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G7 and India (18 January 2021)

G7 and India (18 January 2021)

Context:

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has invited his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi for the G7 summit as he confirmed details on Sunday for the high-level meeting to be presided over by Britain in the coastal region of Cornwall between June 11 and 13.

Background:

Johnson had extended an invitation to Modi during a phone call last year when India was chosen alongside South Korea and Australia as guest countries of the multilateral summit.

The invitation was made formal on Sunday.

Johnson also reiterated his plan to visit India ahead of the G7 summit, after a scheduled visit for Republic Day this month was called off due to the coronavirus crisis.

The Group of Seven or G7 – which is made up of the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US – is dubbed as an open forum where the world’s most influential and open societies are brought together for close-knit discussions, with the pandemic likely to dominate this year’s talks.

Summary of the Debate

G-7 or ‘Group of Seven’:

  • It is an intergovernmental organisation formed in 1975 by the top economies of the time as an informal forum to discuss pressing world issues.
  • Canada joined the group in 1976, and the European Union began attending in 1977.
  • Members of the G-7- Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and USA.
  • The G-7 was known as the ‘G-8’ for several years after the original seven were joined by Russia in 1997.
  • The Group returned to being called G-7 after Russia was expelled as a member in 2014 following the latter’s annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine.

TRUMP SUGGESTS HOLDING IN-PERSON G7 SUMMIT - Legacy IAS Academy

Britain’s interest in India:

  • Covid crisis: One of the pressing reasons is covid crisis and Britain is reeling from the crisis, it had 88,000 deaths, the highest number in Europe from that crisis. AstraZeneca vaccine and KOVISHIELD vaccine being manufactured by the Serum Institute of India and this is result of friendly cooperation and India will supply this to to Britain and other countries at affordable rates.
  • Britain’s tilt towards the Indo-Pacific: After Britain left the European Union and after the European Union had its own investment agreement with China recently, despite US displeasure. So, Britain does not want to be left out on both counts, it’s neither in the EU nor is it pivoting to the Indo-Pacific.
  • Group of democracy (D10): There was also a report that G7 should become D10. The share of the G7 in the world GDP has precipitously declined to 40 percent with the rise of Asia. So, Britain wants more partners in Asia.
  • Trade: Britain are looking increasingly to the US for the bilateral trade and they will have to come to India because they are looking for big markets and India comes on top for them due to the colonial legacy, the commonwealth linkage, the English language, ease with which, the investor can come in and go out.
  • Rise of China: Britain is worried about the excessive Chinese penetration into the European Union and Britain were warning against it, but the Germans want Chinese market for its automobile industries.

Geopolitical Challenges:

  • Today, the geopolitical problem entering the field which is China. There is no consensus even among the developed world, even the western world as how to respond.
  • Chinese have repeatedly denounced Quad, they have been concerned about formulations of the D10 or the G7 plus the Quad.
  • The USA and Britain within the G7 wants to create and reshape G7 into counters to China. However, there is no consensus within the G7. Germany and Italy were unhappy at the idea of D10, because they feared that China would perceive this as an Anti-China move.
  • A large number of countries in Africa, Middle east, Eastern Europe have made it very clear that they still believe that China is a central economic and political partner.

Way Forward:

  • It is strategically better for India to form a coalition to manage the hegemonic rise of China.
  • India should come up with some concrete proposals for cooperative projects in the Indo-Pacific.
  • The US had announced last year that India could also join the blue dot network that they already have for certification of infrastructure projects but more than certification, India need financing.
  • India has to realize that G7 is basically an organization in decline. So, to some degree while the D10 is a way to help revamp it, India needs to be open to the idea that even within the G7, there are probably only three countries who are actually have a geopolitical interest that is similar to India.
  • India needs to take this forward in a pragmatic way rather than in an ideological or evangelical way that means, India don’t have to go too hard on the D10, because we might be leaving out some other countries who are not formal democracies, for example, middle east countries.

Important points made by the Guests

Jitendra Nath Misra, Former Ambassador

  • It’s a continuous process. President Trump has had invited India, South Korea Australia and Russia also for the summit that was not held last year in 2020.
  • Indian vaccine is result of very friendly cooperation and India will be able to supply this to the rest of the world.
  • After vaccination in India, the next priority will be the India’s neighbour and India’s capability in this ahead of China and that’s why Nepal, which does a policy of equidistance between China and India on most strategic issue has made a choice in favour of Indian vaccine.

Pramit Pal Choudhari, Foreign Editor, Hindustan Times

  • Britain and USA are moving towards the idea that you need to incorporate South Korea, India and Australia and may be Brazil into such form to the G7.
  • President Trump in his abortive attempt to hold a G7 summit put something like that where he wanted G7 plus the three other countries from the Quad brought into the G7.

Sreeram Chaulia, Foreign Affairs Expert

  • G7 was a group of rich industrialized capitalist countries in the 1970. It was meant to be a coordination forum to counter communism and communist ideas in those days.
  • Now, their economic growth has slowed, while emerging powers are BRICS country especially China.
  • There is now basis for rebirth of G7 and involving India, Australia and South Korea shows the Indo-Pacific dimension also.

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