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Hilal English

India-USA Nexus and G20 Summit: India’s Bluff on Poverty and Humanity

October 2023

India and the United States are forging a strategic alliance in response to the growing influence of China and Russia, raising comparisons to a potential Cold War era. Meanwhile, India's focus during the G20 meetings centers on addressing its domestic poverty concerns as it pursues ambitions of achieving global superpower status.

The G20 summit, a two-day event, took place in New Delhi, India, on September 9 and 10. The G20 comprises a diverse group of member countries, including the United States, Great Britain, Russia, France, China, Germany, Australia, Canada, Turkey, Italy, Japan, India, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, South Africa, Argentina, South Korea, Mexico, and the European Union. However, the 2023 summit faced a notable setback—the absence of the presidents of China and Russia. These two influential nations play pivotal roles on the global stage, and their non-participation had a significant impact on the summit's objectives. Instead of being a fully multilateral gathering, it morphed into a limited group, casting doubts on its ability to effectively tackle pressing issues. The convergence of political and economic interests between India and the United States appears to be forming a significant partnership in response to the growing influence of China and Russia, potentially ushering in a new era reminiscent of the Cold War.
Preparations for this summit have been in progress for several months. In addition to enhancing the cleanliness of the capital city of Delhi, concerted efforts were made to shield foreign visitors from encountering visible signs of poverty in New Delhi during the G20 summit. Various impoverished communities in the city were concealed behind green curtains and lush vegetation, while G20 banners adorned the walls surrounding these green coverings. According to the Indian media, the people living in these poor communities said that they were forcefully confined to their homes, and virtually imprisoned; they couldn’t go out of these settlements and were restricted even from the rooftops of their houses. Violators of these restrictions were severely beaten by the police. It is evident from the G20 meetings that India's primary focus lies in addressing the dire poverty situation within its borders, as the widespread poverty among the majority of its population threatens to undermine India's ambitions of attaining global superpower status.

The prevailing circumstances reveal that significant impediments to India's rise as a global power include concerns related to human rights, allegations of state support for violent actions against minority groups, and the endorsement of Hindu extremist policies. The Modi government appears to show little inclination to shift its ideological focus from promoting Hindu nationalism over Indian nationalism, hindering India's prospects of emerging as a global power.

India, as a host, very smartly, invited the leaders of Bangladesh, Netherlands, Nigeria, Egypt, Mauritius, Oman, Singapore, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates.  The presidency of G20 will be transferred from India to Brazil next year. The declaration announced on the first day of the G20 summit, referring to the UN Charter, states that all states must refrain from the use or threat of force to threaten the sovereignty, political independence, and regional security of any state.  The declaration emphasizes the unacceptable use or threat of use of nuclear weapons and states that the present age must not be an age of war. Russia and Ukraine have called for military action on related infrastructure, stressing the importance of ensuring the prompt and uninterrupted delivery of grain, foodstuffs, and fertilizers, and maintaining food and energy security. 
The G20's overarching theme was framed as "One Earth, One Family, One Future." However, in practice, a new Cold War dynamic has been initiated, thereby exposing the world to fresh risks of conflicts and devastation. Just as America is aligning with India while investing against China, it has formed a military alliance called Quad, providing India with modern war technology and modern weapons. It proves to be a cover-up for one land, one family, one future. Diplomatic sources say that Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin's absence from the G20 summit is a clear message to India as the non-involvement of China and Russia limits India’s aim of achieving global interests. In the wake of India's disappointment over Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision not to participate, the U.S. White House said on its departure from the U.S. to India that the U.S. is committed to ensuring that the G20 summit in India is successful.

A few days prior to the summit, a report by the US state-run media outlet, Voice of America (VoA), highlighted India's perceived inability to project itself as a humanitarian and friendly nation following its assumption of the G20 chairmanship.

The G20 Summit further unveiled the India-Middle East and Europe Mega Economic Corridor agreement, which brings together India, the United Arab Emirates, the European Union, France, Italy, Germany, and the United States. The initial funding for this ambitious project will be provided by the European Union. This comprehensive corridor will encompass two primary modes of transportation, namely rail and maritime, alongside the integration of an oil pipeline and a high-speed data cable infrastructure. The primary aim of this agreement is to present a transformative corridor as a counterpoint to China's Belt and Road Initiative. However, the effectiveness of utilizing multiple modes of transportation may be limited, as trade acceleration could be hindered by logistical complexities. The agreement seeks to encourage India to expand its market presence in the Middle East and Europe, surpassing that in China. Nevertheless, even if this project were to be realized, it would likely take several decades for it to materialize, and Indian products may still need to improve in terms of quality to compete with Chinese goods on the global stage. Hence, the unveiling of a proposal to establish a commercial route connecting India to Saudi Arabia and Europe via both maritime and railway routes appears to be more of a psychological messaging and political gesture rather than an immediate reality. Nripendra Misra, former Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister's office, has emphasized that India's objectives within the G20 are centered around reinforcing multilateral collaborations, addressing pressing global concerns such as counterterrorism and public health, and pursuing its ambition of securing a permanent seat on the UN Security Council through active participation in the G20 forum. Conversely, the prevailing circumstances reveal that significant impediments to India's rise as a global power include concerns related to human rights, allegations of state support for violent actions against minority groups, and the endorsement of Hindu extremist policies. The Modi government appears to show little inclination to shift its ideological focus from promoting Hindu nationalism over Indian nationalism, hindering India's prospects of emerging as a global power.

Notably, there was no mention of the Kashmir issue during the sidelines of the G-20 summit, which raises questions about India's ability to fulfill its international and bilateral commitments to peacefully resolve the Kashmir issue.

Just two days prior to the G20 summit, a collective of nearly 100 Members of Parliament (MPs) representing various political parties in the UK penned a letter addressed to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, urging him to raise the matter of the detention of a Scottish Sikh individual during his discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The individual in question is Jagtar Singh Johal, a British national residing in Dumbarton, Scotland, who was apprehended in Punjab back in 2017 and is presently incarcerated in a prison facility in Delhi, India. Johal, along with his family residing in the UK, has claimed to be facing harassment and alleged instances of torture.
Furthermore, posters have emerged in Srinagar, demanding that the G20 leaders leaders take action to stop what is described as the slow massacre of the people of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) and to work towards resolving the Kashmir dispute in accordance with United Nations resolutions. Additionally, a few days prior to the summit, a report by the US state-run media outlet, Voice of America (VoA), highlighted India's perceived inability to project itself as a humanitarian and friendly nation following its assumption of the G20 chairmanship.
Prime Minister Modi has faced criticism on several fronts. These include amendments to the country's citizenship law, which expedite the citizenship process for certain immigrants while excluding Muslims. Additionally, there has been growing concern over the increase in incidents of Hindu nationalist violence, targeting Muslims and other religious minorities. Furthermore, criticism emerged following the punishment meted out to India's prominent opposition leader, Rahul Gandhi, for his remarks concerning Modi's name. Furthermore, India's ranking at 161 out of 180 countries in this year's Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders highlights concerns about press freedom. 
Notably, there was no mention of the Kashmir issue during the sidelines of the G-20 summit, which raises questions about India's ability to fulfill its international and bilateral commitments to peacefully resolve the Kashmir issue.