Print This Post
16 March 2023, The Hindu

G20 @ 2023: The Roadmap to Indian Presidency

V. Srinivas’ survey of the G20 and India’s road to its presidency is a reader-friendly and informative work that bridges the information gap and offers an insightful scholarly analysis of the multilateral.

Distinguished Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies Programme

post image

Until mid-2022, interest in the Group of 20 (G20) was confined to experts in international economy and diplomacy. Now, thanks to its presidency coming to India and New Delhi’s resolve to leave an indelible imprint on this influential multilateral grouping, G20 has almost become a household word. As knowledge about it remains limited, G20 @ 2023: The Roadmap to Indian Presidency is a welcome endeavour to bridge the information gap. Reader-friendly and packed with facts, it offers a scholarly analysis of G20’s evolution, achievements and challenges.

Author V. Srinivas, a secretary in the Union government, has had extensive experience as an international civil servant specialising in financial subjects. Fascinated by G20’s journey since 2002 when, as private secretary, he assisted the Indian finance minister to chair G20 meetings, he has studied its trajectory continuously. In 2008, the grouping was elevated to the heads of government level. A survey of its annual summits is a good tool to assess the widening scope of work of G20 in international affairs.

Composed of 11 short and crisp chapters, the volume offers a panoramic view of G20’s journey that led to the Indian presidency. The host country not only organises the summit and other meetings but also sets agendas and shapes outcomes. It enjoys considerable leverage as long as it ensures continuity in deliberations and decision-making with reference to previous summits. In the book’s foreword, Harsh Vardhan Shringla, India’s G20 chief coordinator, observes that the presidency gives India an opportunity “to place its priorities and narratives on the global agenda” and also “to showcase India’s progress… rich cultural heritage and diversity and tourism potential.” Analysing the record of India’s participation in past summits, the author maintains that today when the world suffers from “a crisis of multilateralism”, India is likely to bring stability to a deeply divided multipolar world. Eventually, the performance of the Indian presidency will be judged by these complex criteria.

The book lists several achievements of G20 such as the IMF quota reform, the establishment of the Financial Stability Board, the Debt Service Suspension Initiative, and success in handling past financial and pandemic crises. The author could have factored in the criticism that several summits had only limited impact. A clear implication is that, with its inclusive, determined and action-oriented approach, India is in a sound position to make its presidency truly consequential.

In a book of 290 pages, 154 pages are devoted to the reproduction of texts of the communiqués issued by the G20 summits from 2014–2022. This may be useful to scholars in their future research pursuits. But it is to be hoped that, with his impressive domain knowledge, the author will offer a comprehensive assessment of India’s G20 presidency after it concludes on November 30, 2023. India ardently hopes for “some tangible outcomes” and more from the Delhi summit. This volume helps us to understand why.

G20 @ 2023: The Roadmap to Indian Presidency; V. Srinivas, ICWA and Pentagon Press, ₹995.

Rajiv Bhatia is Distinguished Fellow for Foreign Policy Studies, Gateway House, and a former ambassador.

This review was first published in The Hindu.