Bharat, Not India is the G20 President: What’s The Difference?

Pravin Kumar (Name Changed) is an aspiring politician in India’s Western Uttar Pradesh. Presently, he is a third year graduation student. In this young man’s opinion India isn’t India anymore. It is now ‘Bharat.’ So, I ask him how are the two different. The young man says that today’s India is a transformed India. It is ‘Bharat’ and has emerged as a VishwaGuru – meaning a mentor of the world. He can’t understand why a certain section of people who comprise of a lobby oppose everything the Government does. The old Parliament building is crumbling, so we certainly need a new one. The truth is that we did not become independent after the British left. The people for whom we got independence were conveniently forgotten. “Do you think anyone will gift you an entire country just by folding hands!” According to Kumar, the wrong ideology has been planted in the minds of people since very long now. The British didn’t just leave like that. And even after they left, nothing much changed. Their flag, the British jack was brought down and the tricolour was hoisted. But most of everything remained the same. We had the same rules, the same collectors, the same sepoys and same government run organizations. Everyone was still suffering.

He asserts that this was against the idea of ‘Bharat’. “I think Narendra Modi is a brilliant leader,” Kumar says aloud. He understands the difference between ‘India’ and ‘Bharat.’ Today our whole society is talking about this new idea. We shouldn’t blindly criticize the present dispensation. Nothing was wrong with demonetization! What was all the hue and cry about? Why did people need currency notes in their hands, when today most purchasing is done online? Even vegetable sellers and rickshaw pullers accept UPI payments, but no! Some people were just complaining about not having enough notes on them.

So, it is ‘Bharat’ and not the old ‘India’ which is the G20 president, so what new is Bharat bringing to the table? Inclusiveness, ambition, decisiveness, and action-oriented goals & execution are the four major themes under which the country has prepared its proposals. Mainly, the consideration for choosing these things is important. First consideration is the progress and sustainability of all human beings. How can the country work with others to make economic progress, social progress, progress in health and all other spheres of life? The progress has to be in such a way that the natural system isn’t damaged, which is being used to make progress. “We have been hearing of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbhakam’ since our childhood but no concerted efforts were made to take it to the international arena,” said Ramesh Chand, Senior Union Minister of State, who is also a NITI Aayog member.

Today, there is too much of division in the world. With so much of hostility all around, unless there is international fraternity, the world will head towards a disastrous path. What is being practiced is part of the country’s heritage and is mentioned in the classics, so the world is taking it seriously when ‘Bharat’ talks about world harmony. The G20 Sherpa is guiding other nations well in the mountain climbing. He has been taking representatives all around the country and exchange of views are happening; this itself shows a unique approach. The Government is approaching things differently, and has made it mandatory that every Indian state will organize at least one event of G20. So, the work is just not just restricted to working in Delhi, the states can choose whatever venue they wish and do the needful. The Central Government wants all states to showcase their diversity and what is there at the state level to offer the G20 nations. The Prime Minister is motivating everyone with his ideas and showing everyone how to move ahead.  So, the world may see something very exclusive come out from the G20 President.

Owing to COVID-19 and then the Russia-Ukraine war many countries of the European Union have faced a huge shock, unprecedented economic setbacks, in the form of inflation and also stagflation in many economies, with a sudden stop of energy and commodities to them. The G20 President is trying to find equitable solutions to problems of the Global South as well. The two factors responsible for the economic downfall of many countries is the war, and prior to that the virus. Problems are trying to be dealt with a wise and inclusive approach. There are certain long term factors that get built-up for which individual action may not be very helpful and to deal with such issues there has to be concerted, coordinated and joint action. In the western world, in many countries there is a problem with many of the demographic situations, like their aging population and the not-so-good immigration policies. So, both in terms of working out effective global mechanisms and also individually contributing through skilled manpower, an innovative ecosystem, digital technologies, soft power is something the entire world is looking at India for and using these, the G20 president may be able to address a host of issues.

India has been criticized for its ties with Russia, but the war will not stop if India stops buying oil from Russia. There are major purchases of the many European countries still happening from Russia. India’s Government is clear that commodities like energy and food must never be used as a tool of power. Mr. Chand further said that our country has a robust banking system and will not do anything like putting restrictions on energy and food, which is now affecting food supply in many countries because many fertilizers come from Russia and Ukraine.  India will not make energy and food instruments of war, and would rather let the normal flow and trade continue, without disruption. “India is treading its path very carefully and is being appreciated for its actions,” concluded the senior minister.

China can create problems but border issues are not in the G20 mandate nor should there be talk about bilateral issues, but a situation may arise.  In such a situation, one must respect each other’s sovereignty and the historical agreements that have happened in the past.  With this kind of a long pending issue, patience pays so nothing should be done in haste. India will gradually deal with it and is properly guarding its borders. Adversaries will not turn into good friends, but mature diplomacy will help overcome many obstacles. At the same time, India is assuring that any kind of international forum, any kind of treaty and understanding have their own affect and work for the betterment of all involved. 

India, now emerging as ‘Bharat’ assures a promising era for the world as G20 president – but it will not be smooth sailing, knowing that there are numerous critically affecting factors at play, one of them being the consistent social unrest in Iran. Many things about the country have definitely changed, like the Prime Minister going to the border every Deepawali (The Festival of Lights) to celebrate with the army and boost their morale. No other Prime Minister has done this in the past. So, ‘Bharat’ wants to encompass the entire globe in its philosophy of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” meaning the whole world is my family. How will ‘Bharat’ fare as G20 President? The coming times will define that.

Shaumik Ghosh
Shaumik Ghosh
Author of “A Reverie in Death”, “Bit More than Enough” and “Those Same Demon Eyes.” Columnist and Journalist currently based in India. Have lived and worked in UK, Scotland and India. Follow me on Twitter: @shaumikghosh