Call it a G20 farewell summit, Prime Minister Modi’s way of underscoring and reminding the world (and his constituents) what was achieved during India’s presidency about two months ago. It may not be the usual practice but don’t be surprised if the hosts of subsequent G20 summits borrow that singular leaf from his book. Not all the leaders from the September summit were present, in fact it was virtual with Russia’s President Putin, the EU’s Ursula van der Leyen, Brazil’s Lula da Silva, Bangladesh’s Sheikh Hasina and Canada’s Trudeau. In the case of the last, was he offering the olive branch? India has lifted its ban on e-visas for Canadian nationals.
Modi focused on the Gaza war. “We welcome the news of the release of hostages today and hope for the swift release of all hostages. Ensuring the timely and continuous delivery of humanitarian aid is imperative. It is also crucial to ensure that the conflict between Israel and Hamas, does not take on any kind of regional form.”
His words indicated a more balanced India view of the war, but Modi also warned, “We believe that terrorism is unacceptable to all of us. The death of civilians, wherever they may be, is condemnable.”
That done, he turned to the gains of the September summit. It was a “matter of pride for India that Africa has got a voice during its Presidency,” pointing out that it was part of India’s bid to make the global body “inclusive, ambitious, action-oriented and decisive.” In his view, the success of India’s G20 presidency has put back faith in multilateralism. However, key areas, such as increasing the ambit of multilateral development banks were needed to ensure better global governance.
“The countries of the Global South are going through many difficulties for which they are not responsible. In this context, the need of the hour is to give our full support to the development agenda. It is important that reforms are brought in the global economic and governance structures to make them bigger, better, effective, representative and future ready. We need to ensure timely and affordable assistance to countries in need and implement the action plan adopted to accelerate the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.”
Modi also sounded a warning note on the use of AI and deepfake videos. “AI is a fast-growing technology that needs to reach everyone. In the era of Artificial Intelligence, there is a need to use technology in a responsible manner. There is growing concern about the negative use of AI all over the world. India firmly believes we should work together on global regulation of AI. We have to move forward, understanding the seriousness of how dangerous deepfake is, for society, for the individual. We desire that AI should reach the people, and it must be safe for society. With this approach, the Global AI Partnership Summit is being hosted in India next month. And I believe all of you will cooperate in this as well.”
Modi has handed over to the host of next year’s G20, President Lula da Silva of Brazil. How much of what was achieved at the Delhi summit will be carried forward remains to be seen.