India assumes G20 presidency; PM calls for “mindset shift”

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NEW DELHI: India assumed the presidency of the G20 grouping on Thursday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi making a strong pitch for “fundamental mindset shift” to shape a new paradigm of human-centric globalisation.

In an article penned for newspapers across the globe, Modi underscored the theme of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (One World, One Family, One Future), and listed terror, climate change, pandemic as the greatest challenges that can be best fought together.

Gone is the time to remain trapped in the same old zero-sum mindset, which has led to both scarcity and conflict, the prime minister said.

“It is time to get inspired by our spiritual traditions which advocate oneness and work together to solve global challenges,” he added.

Modi said India’s G20 priorities will be shaped in consultation with not just our G20 partners, but also the fellow-travellers in the Global South – Asia, Africa and Latin America – whose voice often goes unheard.

“Let us join together to make India’s G20 Presidency a Presidency of healing, harmony and hope. Let us work together to shape a new paradigm — of human-centric globalisation,” he said.

The country looks forward to working on encouraging sustainable lifestyles, depoliticising the global supply of food, fertilizers and medical products among other subjects, the prime minister said.

“Unfortunately, we remain trapped in the same zero-sum mindset even today. We see it when countries fight over territory or resources. We see it when supplies of essential goods are weaponised. We see it when vaccines are hoarded by a few, even as billions remain vulnerable,” he said.

If humans were inherently selfish, what would explain the lasting appeal of so many spiritual traditions that advocate the fundamental one-ness of us all, he asked.

Modi said, “One such tradition, popular in India, sees all living beings, and even inanimate things, as composed of the same five basic elements – the panch tatva of earth, water, fire, air and space. Harmony among these elements – within us and between us – is essential for our physical, social and environmental well-being.”

He added, “India’s G20 Presidency will work to promote this universal sense of one-ness. Hence our theme – ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future”.

India’s G20 presidency got off to a start with G20 University Connect with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar and top government officials reaching out to students of 75 universities in an interactive session to create awareness about the “watershed moment” in the country’s journey.

Nagaland’s famous Hornbill Festival in Kohima, which also began on Thursday, had a special focus on G20, while 100 monuments across the country, including some UNESCO heritage sites, were illuminated with the G20 logo with an invitation to citizens to post selfies on the MyGov website. Sand artist Sudarshan Pattnaik created sand art of India’s G20 logo on Puri beach in Odisha.

Jaishankar said it would be India’s endeavour to make consensus on key global issues more relevant through a wider process of consultation.

“As the mother of democracy, India’s G20 presidency will be consultative, it will be collaborative and it will be decisive,” he said addressing the G-20 University Connect initiative at the Sushma Swaraj Bhawan here.

He said India had assumed the G20 presidency at a “very challenging time in world politics” and at an inflection point in its own history.

Jaishankar said India was well-placed to manage contradictions and divergent agendas because of its independent foreign policy and ability to find common ground with different players.

He said harmonising various interests was something that has been deeply ingrained in India’s history and culture.

“We have long been a pluralistic and consultative society which have debated issues openly before we arrive at a decision. Since this is deeply ingrained in our DNA, we have never been insecure with diversity. Our essential unity is not only the basis for pluralism, but also a source of confidence for engaging the world,” he said.

Addressing the G20 University Connect, P K Mishra, the principal secretary to the Prime Minister, said holding the G20 meetings at 56 different locations in the country will ensure that the pan-India nature of event is truly showcased and every state government, Union territory and citizen can be a stakeholder in the process of India’s presidency.

“G20 presidency is an opportunity to present the diversity that is India to the outside world. Universities can train students about local history and important landmarks, art-forms and other cultural traditions of their area,” Mishra said.

The G 20 University Connect event was also attended by UGC Chairman M Jagadesh Kumar, Amitabh Kant, the Sherpa for the G-20 and Harsh Vardhan Shringla, India’s chief coordinator for G20.

On Thursday, India also assumed the presidency of the UN Security Council for the month of December during which it will host signature events on countering terrorism and reformed multilateralism.

India was also handed over the chairmanship of the Wassenaar Arrangement, a multilateral export control regime, at the 26th annual plenary in Vienna in Austria.

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