India begins its presidency of the G-20 on December 1. The previous 17 presidencies borne significant fruits: they guaranteed macroeconomic stability, streamlined international taxation, and alleviated the countries’ debt burden, among many other results. We will benefit from these achievements and continue to build on them.
However, now that India has taken on this important role, I wonder if the G-20 can go even further. Can we catalyze a fundamental change in mindset that benefits all of humanity? I think so.
Our mentality is shaped by our circumstances. Throughout history, humanity lived in scarcity. We were fighting for limited resources because our survival depended on denying them to others. Confrontation and competition – between ideas, ideologies and identities – became the norm.
Unfortunately, today we are still stuck in the same zero-sum mentality. We see it when countries fight over territory or resources. We see it when the supply of essential goods becomes a weapon. And we see it when vaccines are hoarded by a few while billions of people remain vulnerable.
Some might argue that confrontation and greed are part of human nature. I do not agree. If human beings were selfish by nature, how to explain the enduring appeal of so many spiritual traditions that uphold the fundamental unity of us all?
One of these traditions, popular in India, considers that all human beings, and even inanimate objects, are made up of five basic elements: the panchtatva of earth, water, fire, air and space. Harmony between them – within us and between us – is essential for our physical, social and environmental well-being.
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The Indian presidency of the G-20 will strive to foster this universal feeling of unity. Hence our motto: “One land, one family, one future”. It is not just a slogan, but takes into account recent changes in human circumstances, which we have not collectively appreciated.
Today we have the means to produce enough to cover the basic needs of the entire population of the world. Today we do not need to fight for our survival; our time need not be a time of war. In fact, it shouldn’t be. Today, the greatest challenges we face – climate change, terrorism and pandemics – cannot be solved by fighting each other, but only by acting together. Fortunately, today’s technology also provides us with the means to address problems on the scale of all humanity. The vast virtual worlds we inhabit today demonstrate the adaptability of digital technologies.
Home to one sixth of humanity and an immense diversity of languages, religions, customs and beliefs, India is a microcosm of the world. Possessing the oldest known traditions of collective decision-making, India contributes to the founding DNA of democracy. The national consensus in India, as the mother of democracy, is not forged by decree, but by fusing millions of free voices into a harmonious melody.
India is currently the fastest growing large economy. Our citizen-focused governance model cares for even the most marginalized, while nurturing the creative genius of our talented youth. We have tried to make national development not an exercise of governance from above, but a “popular movement” led by citizens. We have harnessed technology to create open, inclusive and interoperable digital public goods. This has enabled revolutionary advances in fields as diverse as social protection, economic inclusion and electronic payments.
For all these reasons, the experiences of India can provide insights for possible global solutions. During our G-20 presidency we will present our country’s experiences, knowledge and models as possible guidelines for others, particularly the developing world. Our priorities in the G20 will be set in consultation not only with our group partners, but also with our fellow travelers in the Global South, whose voice often goes unheard. Priority themes will focus on healing “our Earth”, creating harmony in “our family” and transmitting hope in “our future”.
To heal our planet we will promote sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyles, based on the Indian tradition of stewardship of nature. To foster harmony in the human family, we will seek to depoliticize the world’s supply of food, fertilizer and medical products so that sociopolitical tensions do not lead to humanitarian crises. Just like in our own family, those most in need should always be our first concern. To instill hope in our future generations, we will encourage an honest dialogue among the most powerful countries on mitigating the risks posed by weapons of mass destruction and increasing global security.
India’s agenda for the G-20 will be inclusive, ambitious, action-oriented and decisive. Let us come together to make the Indian presidency a presidency of healing, harmony and hope. Let’s work together to create a new paradigm of human-centered globalization.
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