Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. The world is one family.
Perhaps that’s why the global media is trying to have it all covered in the run-up to G20: from the poor families dispossessed due to Delhi’s beautification, to the event’s “link” with domestic politics and India’s speculated renaming, or Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s marketing glitz as a global leader amid a perceived lack of global consensus.
All this even as a group consensus on a joint communique has so far appeared to be unlikely, amid hardening positions on the Russia-Ukraine war.
Meanwhile, two days before the summit, PM Modi’s oped was circulated across several news outlets in G20 nations, from Nikkei in Japan to Daily Sabah in Turkey, with his remarks that India’s G20 presidency will translate into a call for human-centric progress.
The prime minister is hoping to use the big event to propel the narrative of India as the vishwaguru, but several prominent outlets have been sceptical.
In an editorial headlined “A backsliding democracy gets to play host”, the noted that PM Modi “shares the ideological viewpoint of Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen in France and Hungary’s Viktor Orbán”.
“India’s prime minister says the G20 should let the shape the world’s future. As Human Rights Watch out this week, ‘many proposed summit topics – debt crises, social protection programs, food security, climate change, internet freedom – are at their root about human rights’. Britain has its own share of democratic . But if Mr Modi desires successful outcomes then he, like all autocratic leaders, should understand why his actions at home undermine the arguments he wants to promote abroad.”
“Narendra Modi is an authoritarian figure who, as India’s prime minister since 2014, has pushed his country into increasingly becoming a , in which Hindus define the national identity and non-Hindus are seen as second-class citizens. Yet as the host of the upcoming of the world’s 20 largest economies, Mr Modi will be feted by major global leaders – except his absent fellow strongmen .”
The paper said the west thinks that it “must keep stumm because it needs India to contain China. But at what cost to democracy and human rights?”
Meanwhile, American daily the was scathing in its criticism of India’s “global rebrand”, referring to its speculated renaming as Bharat.
An analysis piece in the paper read, “But more broadly, under Indian leader Narendra Modi, the typically staid diplomatic summit – a long-running meeting of the leaders of the top 19 world economies, plus the European Union – is likely to be a full pomp affair. Ahead of the event, the prime minister’s face has been plastered on billboards around the country. The message is simple: By hosting the world’s top leaders, India has arrived as a world power, with Modi as the person who took the country there. (The truth is a tad less impressive: The G20 has a year-long rotating presidency; Indonesia was last year’s host.)”
It also pointed out the most glaring anomaly. “So far, this year’s G20 has not produced any joint statement. If the disagreements continue, it could mark the first time since 1999 that the G-20 has failed to produce a joint statement.”
It said that more notable than who will be in New Delhi for the event is “who will not be there: Russia’s Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping. Putin has not specified specifically why he will not attend the G-20 summit. Though he faces an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court due to the invasion of Ukraine, and would not be required to arrest the world leader.”
A piece spoke about India’s contradictions, wondering if its global ambitions can survive its deepening chasms. It said India’s hosting of the summit will put its growing power on display, but its leader’s “divisive religious politics” threatens its rise.
“Mr. Modi, India’s most powerful leader in decades, is attempting nothing less than a legacy-defining transformation of this nation of 1.4 billion people. On the one hand, he is trying to turn India into a developed nation and a guiding light for the voiceless in a Western-dominated world…On the other hand, Mr. Modi is with an intensifying campaign to reshape a vastly diverse country, held together delicately by a secular constitution, into a Hindu state.”
Meanwhile, just like the Washington Post piece, German weekly pointed to the challenge emerging from a lack of consensus within the group. Talking about hurdles faced by the Indian government, it said that it is “clear that geopolitical friction has deepened” though the group has found success in coming to a common understanding on several issues.
“After assuming the G20 presidency at the beginning of the year, the Indian government faced the immense challenge of keeping the together as a group capable of making decisions despite the Russian war of aggression. A group that is able to find common positions on the numerous issues on its agenda – from climate change to sustainable development to financial and economic issues. By and large, this has been successful, as the agreements reached since then at the ministerial level show. But it is also clear that geopolitical friction has deepened. the constellation was clear: Russian President Putin did not take part in order to avoid the threat of being snubbed by the international public. joined, was achieved in Bali.”
The city’s poor
A photo-gallery by using AP pictures focussed on what the G20 event means for the poor living in the national capital. “Many of the city’s poor say they have been simply erased, much like the stray dogs and monkeys that have been removed from some neighbourhoods as India’s capital got a makeover ahead of this week’s summit of the Group of 20 nations.”
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government hopes the elaborate effort to make New Delhi sparkle – a “beautification project” with a price tag of $120m – will help showcase the world’s most populous nation’s cultural prowess and strengthen its position on the global stage,” it read. “But for many street vendors and those crammed into New Delhi’s shantytowns, the G20 makeover has meant displacement and loss of livelihoods, raising questions about the government’s policies on dealing with poverty.”
A dispatch, headlined “In India, Narendra Modi rids New Delhi of its poverty during the G20”, was sceptical of this beautification.
“The Indian capital, which is to host the summit of G20 heads of state on September 9 and 10, is unrecognisable. The city, usually so chaotic and congested, is as clean as a Swiss village. Certainly, the beautification work does not concern the entire territory of this megacity of 25 million inhabitants which extends over nearly 50 kilometers.”
Meanwhile, , a Chinese Communist Party outlet, was more concerned about India’s trade protectionism, while referring to the G20 summit and the speculated renaming as Bharat.
The Indian government has maintained that trade between the two countries is largely skewed in China’s favour. It had earlier disagreed to join the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership backed by China, with observers pointing to the trade deficit and boundary tensions as the possible reasons.
“The Indian people have the freedom to call their country whatever they want. However, a name is not the most important thing. What matters is whether India can comprehensively reform its economic system, which can be traced back to before 1947 when the nation became independent. This is the key to India's economic takeoff, and improving India's influence on the international stage. Without revolutionary reform, India cannot achieve revolutionary development.”
“India assumed the G20 Presidency in December 2022 from Indonesia, and will convene the G20 Leaders' Summit for the first time in India in the coming days. Now, India should use the G20 presidency to demonstrate its determination to reform its economy, expand its openness, attract foreign investment, and provide a fair business environment for foreign investors - and also gradually implement these measures. These are all more important than whether to change the country's name.”
A piece in the Australian daily the hinted at what the event could mean for domestic politics in India.
“The G20’s rotational presidency, which means each member country hosts the event once every 20 years, could not have come at a more fortunate time for Modi who is preparing to face an election next year for a parliament in which he already controls 353 of 543 seats. India’s choice of G20 logo, a lotus, looks eerily similar to that of Modi’s own party, the Bharatiya Janata Party. It has been plastered on water tanks, schools and tea stalls across the country, from New Delhi to where I am now, in rural Gauchar, on my way through the Himalayas to India’s border with Tibet.
“Modi has made no secret of his use of the international forum to advance his nationalistic and domestic political interests. Last week he urged followers on X, formerly known as Twitter, to tweet in Sanskrit about the G20.”
Referring to deepening geopolitical tensions, it stated, “When they walk through the arrivals hall, G20 delegates will see another sign next to Modi: ‘Leave no one behind,’ it reads. Except Xi Jinping, a few might be tempted to say.”
, Argentina’s largest daily, republished an AFP piece, to point to PM Modi’s “unsuccessful” efforts.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi has portrayed his country as a leader of the ‘Global South’, a bridge between industrialised and developing countries, and has sought to expand the group into a ‘G21’ with the inclusion of the African Union.”
But, it said, “Modi’s efforts to urge the G20 rulers to overcome their divisions to address critical global issues have been unsuccessful in ministerial appointments leading up to the summit, including debt restructuring attempts and commodity price shocks following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”
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