G20 Presidency: Global Power Dynamics Makes India’s Chairmanship more Challenging


G20 Presidency: Global Power Dynamics Makes India’s Chairmanship more Challenging

Although the G20 summit will consume India’s diplomatic energies in 2023, significant shifts in great power equations are taking place triggered by Russia’s war against Ukraine.  On both the economic and political fronts, writes C Raja Mohan “the conflict among the major powers has sharpened. That makes India’s chairmanship of G20 more challenging.

“For Indian diplomacy, then, the year 2023 is as much about multilateral diplomacy as it is about adapting to a potentially historic shift in great power relations. The endgame of the  Ukraine war — or the nature of the peace settlement in Ukraine — remains the decisive variable in 2023.”


China challenge

For India, “if Xi’s initial backing for Putin on Ukraine was a mistake, the Chinese leader has some room to undo parts of the error. Unlike Putin, who is finding it hard to walk back from the terrible misadventure in Ukraine, Xi has minimised his risks by avoiding armed support to Putin’s war. China is also well placed to benefit from Russia’s Ukraine mistakes by expanding Beijing’s influence in Central Asia.”

And “while Xi may want to put the US ties back on track, there is no evidence that he is ready yet to make nice to his neighbours like Japan and India.”

Thus, “India that long relied on Russia to provide a regional balance of power will have to rework its great power sums. This should not be too hard, given India’s improving relations with the US and Europe and its focus on diversifying its defence partnerships. Delhi, however, will have to move much faster in developing the national capabilities and international partnerships to deter China’s aggressive actions on the border and balance Beijing’s power in the Indo-Pacific. Delhi certainly can’t take for granted that its current economic and political advantages will endure.”

Finally, argues Mohan “it is unlikely the world will return to the kind of multilateralism we got used to since the 1990s. India’s G20 leadership would be a success if it can prevent the complete breakdown of the multilateral system and generate major power consensus on a few issues. Meanwhile, new rules for the global order are beginning to emerge from like-minded groupings like the G7 rather than a deeply divided G20.”

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