India holds a crucial position in the world of geopolitics and diplomacy. As the current president of both the G20 and SCO, India has gained a prominent status in the international community. Every nation is looking towards India with different agendas and hopes, recognising its significance in shaping global affairs.
Recently, India hosted the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting, where the USA and Russia came face to face in the same room. Additionally, the Quad Foreign Ministers Meeting and the Raisina Dialogue, backed by the Ministry of External Affairs, were held. These events have garnered attention from all over the world, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov commenting that he would like his friends to be friends too.1
India’s role in the geopolitical arena is pivotal, as evidenced by its SCO presidency and hosting of The Voice of the Global South a few weeks ago. With its strategic location and growing economic power, India is poised to play a significant role in shaping the future of global politics. The reasons for India’s spotlight are:
- The Balancing Act
- SCO and Quad
- The Voice of the Global South
Balancing the G20 and SCO Presidency
India is currently executing a masterful diplomatic strategy by balancing the Western nation-backed G20 with the China-founded SCO grouping of regional nations. This approach has garnered significant appreciation from the international community, but it also requires India to tread carefully. As the US imposes sanctions on countries that go against its policies, India must find ways to maintain cordial relations while bypassing these restrictions. However, this delicate balancing act may not be sustainable in the long run. India’s deft handling of its dual presidency roles has earned it praise from around the world. By skilfully navigating the competing interests of the G20 and SCO, India has demonstrated its ability to play a leading role in global affairs. However, this success has not come without challenges.
As the US continues to impose sanctions on countries that do not align with its policies, India must be careful not to fall afoul of these restrictions. While India has managed to maintain cordial relations with both the US and China, this may not be possible indefinitely. As tensions between these two superpowers continue to rise, India may find itself forced to choose sides. Despite these challenges, India remains committed to its role as a global leader. By balancing the G20 and SCO presidencies, India has demonstrated its ability to navigate complex geopolitical terrain. As the world continues to evolve, India will undoubtedly face new challenges, but its diplomatic prowess will ensure that it remains a key player on the global stage.2
SCO and Quad
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is a regional intergovernmental organisation led and heavily backed by China. On the other hand, the Quad is a group of like-minded nations, including Australia, Japan, the United States, and India, that aims to counter China’s growing influence. India’s participation in the Quad is based on the principle of multilateralism, which seeks to limit China’s hegemonic tendencies and expansionist policies. India’s role in both the SCO and the Quad is crucial in maintaining global order, defence, and peace. As the chair of the SCO, India has a unique opportunity to promote regional cooperation and stability while also addressing common challenges such as terrorism, extremism, and drug trafficking. At the same time, India’s participation in the Quad reinforces its commitment to a rules-based international order and a free and open Indo-Pacific region. In conclusion, India’s involvement in both the SCO and the Quad reflects its strategic vision and commitment to promoting regional and global peace and stability.
Voice of the Global South
India is stepping into the role of leadership with the G20 presidency and raising the collective voice of the South on the issues of global food chain and security, energy security, climate change, and commodity prices. Due to the decades of excessive carbon emissions of the developed nations, the developing nations suffer the most. And even more when the responsibility to collectively maintain comes crashing down on the barely sustaining nation. The same issue was raised by India at the COP27 meeting in Sharm-al-Sheikh. Until recent times, China was the one nation the global south looked up to because of its money lending and economy. But with nations getting trapped in debt, they are seeking out to India. With the recent war where commodity, fuel, and energy prices are going drastically high and people are being pushed into poverty each day, they are looking to India to have their voice heard on international forums with expecatation.3
Opportunity for India
Global Governance Reforms
With countries going to war and the external aggression of China on Taiwan, it is a matter of global concern that the UNSC is incapable of handling such issues. Where Azerbaijan and Armenia are, they are involved in a tussle that not even America is able to maintain peace with. It is an opportunity for India as a nation, which represents 18% of the global population and is part of multiple groupings that are seeking an urgent reform of the UNSC, along with a representation for the continent of Africa, which is nearly invisible.
For the first time since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war, Russia, the western nations, and the US were in conversation during the Raisina Dialogue and during the G20 FM meet. India provided an exclusive platform for the nations to clear the air. India’s role in facilitating this dialogue was commendable, and it demonstrated the country’s commitment to promoting peace and stability in the region and globally. The platform provided a unique opportunity for the nations to come together and work towards a common goal, and it is hoped that this will pave the way for further constructive engagement in the future.
Global energy and oil prices keep on rising due to the war, and an uneasiness all along Europe and Britain is seen with the constant change in PM. With oil-producing nations cutting production and constantly jacking up the prices due to the war, is feeding the inflation and pushing millions into poverty, This serious issue can be addressed through India as well. To address the issue of energy security, it is essential to focus on renewable energy sources. India has already made significant investments in solar and wind energy, and it has the potential to become a major exporter of renewable energy. By investing in renewable energy, India can help reduce the world’s dependence on fossil fuels and mitigate the effects of climate change.
Leading the Global South
China’s lending policy made them the ringmaster in the initial era, but with their constantly increasing economy and change in needs, and nations becoming aware of its tendency, it is making developing nations wary and making them lookout for other options, and the best fit in the role is India. India can raise the collective voice of the global south in the G20 and make the issue heard. Along with that, it can remind other countries of their promises at COP 26 and 27.
Challenges for India
- This moment shall pass; India’s presidencies are limited to 2023, and after that, it may start to lose the added advantage. So, it’s important that we make the maximum use of this opportunity.
- Limitations to the balancing act are that it has been almost a decade since Delhi began with it as India finds different routes to avoid sanctions and meet its goals. But the world’s patience is running out. GOI advocates for multilateralism, human values, and peace,
- Diplomatic highs might run out, and India in the upcoming years may have to take a side, whether with Russia or the West. Alongside the Indian compulsion and perception of it not being perceived as an antagonist, India constantly abstains from voting on the Ukraine issue in the UNSC, despite Russia being its major defence partner and supplier, where they also maintain a similar stance with the West.
In the current geopolitical scenario, it is not possible to tackle global problems and issues without India being involved in them right now. The much-needed changes in the UNSC and global governance order are urgently needed, and India stands at the centre of it all.
Russia trying to help bring India, China closer: Lavrov – The Hindu. “Russia Trying to Help Bring India, China Closer: Lavrov,” March 3, 2023. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/russia-is-trying-to-be-helpful-to-bring-india-china-closer-lavrov/article66577941.ece.
The Indian Express. “India’s Presidencies in SCO, G20 Will Strengthen World Stability and Security: Putin,” December 31, 2022. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/indias-presidencies-in-sco-g20-will-strengthen-world-stability-and-security-putin-8353916/.
Abhyuday Saraswat. “EAM Jaishankar Leads Virtual Summit on ‘Voice of the Global South’ with Participation from 120 Developing Countries.” The Kootneeti, January 12, 2023. https://thekootneeti.in/2023/01/12/eam-jaishankar-leads-virtual-summit-on-voice-of-the-global-south-with-participation-from-120-developing-countries/.