Select Page

The G20 (Group of 20), is an international forum comprising 19 of the world’s largest economies and the European Union. It serves as a platform for discussions and cooperation on global economic issues and policies.

Founded in 1999 in response to the financial crises of the late 1990s, the G20 has become a crucial forum for addressing economic challenges, fostering international financial stability, and promoting sustainable development. India is the G20’s current president.

The member countries include major economies like the United States, China, Japan, Germany, India, Australia and others (New Zealand is not in the list). It brings together both developed and emerging economies, making it a diverse and influential group.

Former Indian High Commissioner to NZ, Muktesh Pardeshi is Special Secretary heading the operations and logistics of India’s G20 Presidency Secretariat. The Indian Weekender’s Editor-at-Large interviewed him recently at the G20 headquarters in New Delhi.

Muktesh Pardeshi with Dev Nadkarni

Can you give us an overview of India’s role in the G20 presidency, and how the presidency is structured?
The G20 presidency follows a rotational pattern, and India assumed the presidency from Indonesia on December 1. Our presidency will continue until November 30, when Brazil takes over.

Notably, this is the first time that four consecutive presidencies—Indonesia, India, Brazil and South Africa—represent emerging economies. This presents a unique opportunity for these nations to address concerns relevant to their economies within the G20 framework.

What are some of the steps India has taken during its G20 presidency, particularly in terms of outreach and collaboration?
Early in our presidency, we organised a virtual meeting called the ‘Voice of the Global South Summit’, convening representatives from 125 countries in the global South. This consultative process allowed us to collectively raise the voice and concerns of developing countries.

Moreover, we extended invitations to select African countries, creating a group of 20 member countries, including one from the European Union, and nine special invitees.

What has been India’s approach to hosting the G20 presidency and involving different levels of governance?
For the G20 presidency, we’ve worked collaboratively with state governments and union territories. While we manage the meetings, the local governments provide infrastructural support. This process has enhanced local capacities to handle international events. By involving regional administrations, we’ve transformed diplomacy into a part of everyday life.

What do you consider to be the legacy of India’s G20 presidency, particularly in terms of its impact on global issues?
India’s G20 presidency leaves behind a two-fold legacy. Firstly, we’ve steered discussions towards matters pertinent to emerging economies and the developing world. We’ve emphasised crucial topics like leveraging data for development, promoting women’s leadership in development, climate financing, and accelerating progress on sustainable development goals post-Covid-19. Prime Minister Modi also has made a strong case of inclusion of African nations [currently South Africa is the only nation in the G20] with an African Union, on the lines of how the EU is included.

What has been the impact of hosting G20 meetings in lesser-known regions of India?
Hosting G20 meetings in less prominent regions has brought international attention to these areas. For instance, when we held meetings in the northeastern states, there was heightened focus on these regions. This spotlight has not only highlighted their tourism potential but also created economic opportunities.

How does your experience in this endeavour resonate with your career and sense of fulfilment?
Working on the G20 presidency has been incredibly fulfilling. It underscores how diplomacy can contribute directly to national development. Collaborating on projects that enhance the relevance of the Ministry of External Affairs and connect diplomacy with national progress has been an exciting and meaningful phase of my career.

First appeared in the Indian Weekender 11 August 2023