India assumed the G-20 presidency for the first time on December 1, 2022, and will be hosting the leaders’ summit in September 2023. This G-20 summit is important since none of the prior summits brought together the world’s largest economies, nor did they include the complete P-5 (permanent members of the UN Security Council). In addition to that, India’s G-20 presidency is significant for several other reasons, including global geopolitical turmoil, economic crises, rising food and energy prices, security concerns, climate change, and pandemics, amongst others.
India’s G-20 presidency, scheduled for the year 2023, presents an ambitious opportunity for India to enhance its global influence and showcase its soft power capabilities. India’s presidency of the G-20 is aimed at advancing three main pillars: “People, Planet, and Prosperity.”
Background of the G-20
The G-20 grouping is the premier forum for international economic cooperation. It was formed in 1999, with 19 countries and the European Union as permanent members. Apart from member countries, the annual event of the G-20 countries is attended by invitee countries, which changes every year. The exception is Spain, which is a permanent guest of the G-20.
The G-20 brings together the world’s largest and most influential economies, representing around 80% of global GDP and two-thirds of the world’s population, making it an important platform for shaping global economic policies and addressing pressing global challenges.
Each presidency of the G-20 steers the agenda and hosts the meetings for one year leading up to the final leaders’ summit. The group does not have a permanent secretariat; it works on rotating the presidency supported by the Troika, which is the past, current, and upcoming presidency. For 2023, the Troika comprises Indonesia, India, and Brazil, respectively.
Members: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union.
Invited Countries: Bangladesh, Egypt, Mauritius, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Singapore, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates.
Invited International Organisations: In addition to the regular International organisations (UN, IMF, WB, WHO, WTO, ILO, FSB, and OECD) and Chairs of Regional organisations (AU, AUDA-NEPAD, and ASEAN), India, as the G-20 Presidency, will be inviting ISA, CDRI, and ADB as Guest IOs.
India’s Tourism Track and Soft Power Diplomacy
With the G-20 Presidency, India aspires to showcase “Incredible India” and position itself globally. The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, described India’s agenda at the G-20 as “inclusive, ambitious, and action-oriented.” The theme of its presidency is “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” or “One Earth, One Family, One Future”.
India has so far hosted over 200 meetings in about 60 cities. The meetings have been held under the Sherpa Track, Finance Track, and various Engagement Groups. In the G-20 Tourism Track meetings, four Tourism Working Group Meetings were held, followed by the Ministerial Meeting, held in Goa. Hosting the G-20 meetings has also generated economic opportunities in various sectors, including tourism, hospitality, information technology, and civil aviation, among others.
India has successfully conducted these meetings stretching from the North to South and East to West corners of the country, including Rann of Kutch in Gujarat; Siliguri and Darjeeling in West Bengal; Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir; and Goa. The Tourism Working Group meetings were remarkable and exceptionally organised, primarily because of meticulous preparations by the Ministry of Tourism. The successful meetings in such diverse locations have raised India’s stature and paved a promising path for its future. The thematic discussions during these four meetings included Archaeological tourism, Rural tourism, Adventure tourism, Film tourism, and Cruise Tourism.
The G-20 Delegates have been stunned by the Rann of Kutch, the valleys of Jammu and Kashmir, the architecture of Khajuraho, the backwaters of Kerala, the Ghats of Varanasi, Dholavira, Sanchi Stupa, Shore Temple, and the monuments of Hampi. These delegates also dined and tried Indian cuisine.
In record time, India has developed world-class conference facilities and MICE destinations, demonstrating India’s potential as a tourist destination.
GOA Roadmap for Tourism
The Ministry of Tourism has introduced a key deliverable of the G-20 Tourism Working Group (TWG) Meetings, which is the GOA Roadmap for Tourism as a vehicle for achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The document was endorsed at the 4th TWG Meeting and Ministerial Meeting held in Goa from June 19–22, 2023. It is jointly developed by the Ministry of Tourism and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) in consultation with the G-20 member and invitee countries and international organisations. The five overarching priorities of the Goa Roadmap to achieve Sustainable Tourism are Green Tourism, Digitalization, Skills, Tourism MSMEs, and Destination Management.
Advancing the Sustainable Development Goals and Addressing Climate Change
One of the major objectives of India’s G-20 presidency is to advance actions to achieve the SDGs. As a global leader in renewable energy, India placed emphasis on climate change mitigation and sustainable development during its G-20 presidency.
India has also launched the Travel for LiFE campaign, a programme under Mission Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE) for tourism. The focus of this mission is to shift from a use-and-dispose economy to a circular economy through conscious actions and collaborative efforts. Introduced by the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, in 2021 during the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, LiFE Movement is a global mass movement urging individuals to act to protect the environment against the effects of climate change.
Working group meetings this year have focused on global priority areas such as green development, climate finance, inclusive growth, the digital economy, public infrastructure, technology transformation, and reforms for women’s empowerment for socio-economic progress.
All these efforts are taken to accelerate advancement towards the SDGs and ensure a better future. This shows India’s commitment to tackling one of the biggest challenges of our century. India strives to establish a rules-based order, peace, and progress for all through a defined plan and a development-oriented approach.
On the Diplomatic front
India plays a significant role in shaping the international environment. The economic growth-oriented alignment of India’s foreign policy is strengthening its economy. India’s diplomacy has a global reach and is guided by an active policy. The country has become more assertive in pursuit of its objectives. There is a major shift in global power architecture, and India’s G-20 presidency in these times is pivotal for the country.
India’s independent foreign policy has gathered attention in recent times, especially its projection of national interests on global platforms. Tourism is also considered an important soft power instrument for global diplomacy, and the initiatives taken by the G-20 India Tourism Track will give India an edge. At a time when all eyes were on the valley of Kashmir, the third Tourism Working Group Meeting was a pivotal event. The valley had not hosted any international event since the abrogation of Article 370, making this meeting a momentous one. G-20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant stated that “it has been a brilliant experience with fabulous hospitality, warmth, and affection” and that the delegates were delighted by Kashmir’s tourism potential.
India’s G-20 presidency provides an opportunity to project its soft power and position itself as a responsible global player. By focusing on people-centric development, sustainable practises, economic diplomacy, and global governance, India aims to enhance its influence and contribute to shaping the global agenda. The utilisation of soft power instruments including cultural heritage, tourism, renewable energy leadership, democratic values, and vaccine diplomacy has further bolstered India’s engagement and impact during its G-20 presidency.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article/commentary are solely those of the author and do not reflect the official position or views of the organization.