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HomeWorld NewsWhere does India stand with respect to the G-7? | Explained

Where does India stand with respect to the G-7? | Explained

The story so far: Leaders of the Group of Seven, the U.S., Canada, Germany, France, Japan, the U.K. and Italy, met in Italy’s Apulia region from June 13-15, along with the European Union leadership, for a summit to discuss a host of issues. India has been invited to the outreach 11 times, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi attending it for the fifth time.

What was the G-7 summit hoping to achieve?

Bridging differences between the “West and the Rest”, finding new ways to fund support for the Ukraine war, investing in Africa and grappling with migration, climate change and artificial intelligence challenges, were all on the agenda for G-7 leaders. They agreed to make $50 billion more available for Ukraine, carving it out from frozen sovereign wealth funds of Russia, held a special “Energy for Growth in Africa” summit to spur investments in clean energy, attacked China for coercive trade practices, and met with leaders of 10 countries, including India, and multilateral organisations, as part of the “G-7 Outreach”, to discuss the concerns of the Global South. Apart from substantive issues, the G-7 grouping has also been trying to battle its own image, as a tired set of countries representing the old world of the ‘western elite’.

Editorial | New dynamics: On the G-7, its identity, its purpose

It was also widely commented upon that apart from Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, whose party did well in this month’s European Parliament elections, all other G-7 leaders are battling tough election campaigns with sagging approval ratings.

How important is India to the G-7 process?

India has been an important part of the G-7 process for several years now, coming to the grouping’s attention in the 2000s for its steady growth figures during the global financial collapse. India is not only a key member of the Global South, and has hosted the “Voice of Global South” conference since 2023, it is also a member of the G-20 troika, along with Brazil and South Africa. Besides, Prime Minister Modi is a central figure at such outreaches, though India is not a member of the G-7.

Other countries whose leaders attended the outreach were Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, Jordan, Kenya, Mauritania, Tunisia, Türkiye and the United Arab Emirates, along with heads of the African Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations and the World Bank.

Is it an important platform for India?

For India, the outreach session of the G-7 meeting, that follows a day after the main G-7 deliberations, has always been an important platform to showcase its achievements and outlook to the world. The importance of the event and India’s participation can be gauged from the fact that Ms. Meloni called Mr. Modi during the election campaign to ensure his participation, and he travelled to Italy just four days after his swearing-in and even before he had proven his majority in Parliament. During the outreach session, Mr. Modi spoke about the importance of the Indian elections, which he called the “victory of the democratic world”, and the importance of harnessing technology and artificial intelligence to bridge global inequality, as well as a roadmap to fight climate change. He said it was important to pay heed to the Global South’s concerns, as it bears “the brunt of global uncertainties and tension”, a reference to how the developing world looks at unilateral sanctions as well as food, fertilizer and energy security. Mr. Modi spent most of his time in bilateral meetings and held talks with U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Ms. Meloni. He also met with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who was a special invitee, and after the photo-op with all the leaders, he spent a few minutes with U.S. President Biden.

He released a less cordial photo of his exchange with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, reflecting the poor state of bilateral ties, but the G-7 outreach gave him the opportunity to meet global leaders and set priorities for his new term in office.

What is the future of G-7?

The G-7 is increasingly under attack for being an elitist, non-inclusive group, that doesn’t include three of the world’s top 10 economies, China, India and Brazil, or representation from the rest of the world, like the G-20 does, for example. In addition, the G-7, which has not increased its membership (in fact, it decreased it, by dropping Russia in 2014), is increasingly being challenged by a grouping like BRICS, that has now doubled its size from the original Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa grouping to include other countries and energy majors like the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iran, as well as Egypt and Ethiopia. That the G-7 has been unable to change the course of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, or stop Israel’s devastating bombardment of Gaza, or deterred China from its inroads into global connectivity and infrastructure and economic influence, is raising more questions about its relevance.

Watch: G-7 Summit 2024 | Highlights of PM Modi’s meetings with world leaders

It remains to be seen how the G-7, which may have a different composition of leaders, given impending elections in the U.K. and the U.S., stands up to the challenge to re-invent itself as an effective grouping. It will next convene for the annual summit in Canada’s Alberta region in 2025; the question is whether India will continue to accept a spot on its margins.

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