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  • Kristin Roots

G20: Reality vs Facade

Kristin Roots

The recently-concluded G20 Summit in New Delhi, presided over by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, marked a pivotal moment in global diplomacy, offering the host nation a platform to voice the interests of countries in the Global South. This gathering of leaders from across the world provided a forum to address pressing global issues. Yet, as with any significant international event, the summit had great achievements and controversies.

Successes included an agreement on the Ukraine conflict, although Russia’s invasion went unmentioned. The final statement referenced the United Nations, stressing the avoidance of force in territorial matters. The Summit also elevated the African Union to full G20 membership, highlighting India’s role as a global platform and Africa's significance in global affairs. Common concerns covered public health, climate change, economic stability and debt challenges. American President Joe Biden explored plans for an India-Middle East-Europe bridge for economic and political cooperation.

Despite these achievements, tensions arose due to the absence of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping. A Russian official cited Putin's “busy schedule” as the reason but speculation links it to scrutiny over Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Xi’s first-time absence led to speculation about China’s internal issues and his evolving role. Attending the Summit could have offered valuable insights.

Another concerning issue is the ongoing religious tensions in India and the rise of Hindu nationalism and Islamophobia under Modi’s regime since 2014. These issues encompass hate speech, communal violence and the production of Islamophobic films. While Modi emphasizes democracy and freedom in India, his apparent lack of concern for addressing these serious issues raises questions about his credibility.

Additionally, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has accused India of involvement in the murder of a Sikh Canadian citizen and Khalistan ideologist, causing tension between Canada and India. India has refuted accusations, further challenging Modi’s government's credibility. With all this turmoil before and after the G20 summit, it raises doubts about the Summit’s true effectiveness. Is it a facade? Some of these leaders seem reluctant to address the skeletons in their closet.

The G20 is a significant annual meeting in which the world’s greatest leaders come together to discuss issues and how to improve them. However, two leaders were absent, and the hosting prime minister seemed like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Is it possible that Xi’s absence was a diss to India due to ongoing border issues or perhaps a maneuver to move away from western-led groups like the G20? It’s interesting to note that Xi attended the BRICS Summit in South Africa but not the G20.

Although all the nations in attendance indirectly condemned forcing territories, there was no direct mention of Russia. Is it possible that if Putin had attended, all the leaders could have discussed the matter at hand and at least offered ways to end the atrocities in Ukraine? The world may never know now.

Does Modi truly care about democracy, or does he want to put on the face that he cares? These are all grown men, and they should be able to have the discussion about the worst atrocities no matter who committed them. The theme for the summit this year was “One Earth, One Family, One Future.” How can the peaceful future of the earth family be fully achievable with no-shows and possible facades?

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