The Group of Twenty (G-20) nations is the new club in town. After the recent Pittsburgh summit, it is being argued that G-20 has “taken over”, and G-8 is receding in importance. There has been exultation in India over the country being accepted finally at the high table.
Much of this is rather misplaced. In reality, developing nations such as India, Mexico, Brazil and Turkey, among others, have been co-opted in an effort to solve an American problem. If that is not all, a Western agenda that is detrimental to the interests of India and other countries is being sought to be imposed by drafting such countries as “partners” to “solve” these problems. Climate change, energy security and chasing millennium development goals have been highlighted in the communiqué from the Pittsburgh summit. In solving these problems, the developed countries were to take a lead. They did not. In those instances where the agenda favours India, such as expansion and redistribution of International Monetary Fund quotas, its implementation leaves many questions unanswered.
Illustration: Jayachandran / Mint
This might seem like an India-is-being-hoodwinked argument, for the fashionable line these days is that global problems require all nations to come together. This is a rose-tinted way of looking at G-20.
The truth is that the US is aware of the dangers of the debt-fuelled consumption which powers its growth. It was the engine that drove the world economy for a long time. A large share of this growth went to China. Now, both the US and China are aware that they need to drastically change their consumption-saving ratios. This is bound to be painful.
The US and Chinese expectation is that with the cooperation of members of G-20, this pain will be much more bearable. What has been left unclear is the burden to be borne by these countries. For example, will they be asked to curb exports in the name of smooth running of the global economy? Of course, such “requests” are couched in sugar-coated terms, but they remain what they are.
This is where the challenges lie for India. Are we prepared in terms of negotiating skills and strategies to ensure that we get what is in our interest? In fact, the first problem is that of articulating our needs and our stand. In the face of our fluctuating economic policymaking stand, coordination and cooperation at the international level have the potential to turn into a trial-and-error situation.
India at the high table: cause for cheer or a time to strategize? Tell us at email@example.com