Draw inspiration from India’s civilisational ethos: PM Modi at G20 foreign ministers meet


Stressing that “global governance has failed” to prevent wars, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday told the foreign ministers of G20 countries they are meeting at a time of “deep global divisions” and discussions are “affected by the geopolitical tensions of the day”.

Modi told the visiting foreign ministers to draw inspiration from “India’s civilisational ethos” and “to focus not on what divides us, but on what unites us”. He was referring to global challenges of growth, development, economic resilience, transnational crime, corruption, terrorism, and food and energy security.

The prime minister’s opening statement to the visiting G20 foreign ministers moderated the expectations about the outcome of the summit, where negotiators are working hard to put together a statement with consensus. But the Russia-Ukraine war has polarised the discussions, with the meeting testing the diplomatic tightrope walk by New Delhi.

Modi, who began the session, said, “We must all acknowledge that multilateralism is in crisis today. The architecture of global governance, created after the Second World War, was to serve two functions. First, to prevent future wars by balancing competing interests. Second, to foster international cooperation on issues of common interests. The experience of the last few years – financial crisis, climate change, pandemic, terrorism, and wars – clearly shows that global governance has failed in both its mandates.”

He also brought up the issues faced by the developing and the less developed countries, widely referred to as the Global South.

He said, “We must also admit that the tragic consequences of this failure are being faced most of all by the developing countries. After years of progress, we are at risk today of moving back on the Sustainable Development Goals. Many developing countries are struggling with unsustainable debt, while trying to ensure food and energy security for their people. They are also the ones most affected by global warming caused by richer countries. This is why India’s G20 Presidency has tried to give a voice to the Global South. No group can claim global leadership without listening to those most affected by its decisions.”

The prime minister, without mentioning the Russia-Ukraine war, said, “You are meeting at a time of deep global divisions. As foreign ministers, it is but natural that your discussions are affected by the geopolitical tensions of the day. We all have our positions and our perspectives on how these tensions should be resolved.”

And, then he called on the G20 countries to focus on the global challenges confronting the world, that have been exacerbated by the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war.

“However, as the leading economies of the world, we also have a responsibility towards those who are not in this room. The world looks upon the G20 to ease the challenges of growth; development; economic resilience; disaster resilience; financial stability; transnational crime; corruption; terrorism; and food and energy security. In all these areas, the G20 has the capacity to build consensus and deliver concrete results. We should not allow issues that we cannot resolve together to come in the way of those we can. As you meet in the land of Gandhi and the Buddha, I pray that you will draw inspiration from India’s civilisational ethos – to focus not on what divides us, but on what unites us,” he said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov are among the visiting foreign ministers who were listening to Modi’s message, while seated in the conference room at the Rashtrapati Bhavan complex.

“In recent times, we have seen the most disastrous pandemic of a century. We have witnessed thousands of lives lost in natural disasters. We have seen global supply chains break down during times of stress. We have seen stable economies suddenly overwhelmed by debt and financial crises. These experiences clearly show the need for resilience – in our societies, in our economies, in our healthcare systems, and in our infrastructure. The G20 has a critical role to play in finding the right balance between growth and efficiency on one hand, and resilience on the other. We can reach this balance more easily by working together. That is why your meeting is important. I have full trust in your collective wisdom and ability. I am sure that today’s meeting will be ambitious, inclusive, action-oriented, and will rise above differences,” he said.

His call for an “ambitious, inclusive, action-oriented”, and that the countries “will rise above differences” reflect the desire to have a joint communique at the end of the meeting.

He also stressed that India has selected the theme of ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’ for its G20 Presidency, and it signals the need for unity of purpose and unity of action. “I hope that your meeting today will reflect this spirit of coming together, for achieving common and concrete objectives,” he said.

The meeting, chaired by External Affairs minister S Jaishankar, began with a one-minute silence mourning for earthquake victims in Turkey and Syria.

Coming days after G20 finance ministers failed to agree on a joint communique since there was no consensus on the reference to the Russia-Ukraine war, the foreign ministers’ meeting is set to test India’s diplomatic tightrope walk.

This is Blinken’s first visit to India since the war began last year after his July 2021 trip, Lavrov’s second visit in a year after April 2022, and Chinese Foreign minister Qin Gang’s first visit as the newly appointed Chinese Foreign Minister. Qin’s predecessor Wang Yi had come to India in March last year.

After this, the first session in the forenoon will discuss “strengthening multilateralism and need for reforms”, “food and energy security” and “development cooperation”. This will be followed by bilateral meetings and lunch. The afternoon sessions will discuss “counter-terrorism: new and emerging threats”, “global skill mapping and talent pool” and “humanitarian assistance and disaster relief”.

While India, which holds the G20 presidency, would like a consensus on all these topics, the shadow of the Russia-Ukraine war has polarised conversations in the past.

Source : https://indianexpress.com/article/india/narendra-modi-g20-foreign-ministers-meeting-s-jaishankar-8474647/

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