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2023: Year of Defining India’s Geopolitical Space

2023 will be a defining year for India’s geopolitical destiny in the near to medium term. India holds Presidency of the G 20 the premier grouping to address the financial, economic and developmental challenges of the world and there are many in this era of uncertainty following two years of the COVID 19 pandemic and nine months of the War in Ukraine whose impact has been felt far and wide impacting the developing World in multiple spheres. The importance of the G 20 group of countries can be underlined by the size of the representation - 20 major economies, 85% of the global GDP, 75% of international trade and two-thirds of the world’s population - Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States along with the European Union.

Add to the same the next level of large or significant economies in the World to include UAE, Bangladesh, Mauritius, Egypt, Nigeria, Oman, Singapore, the Netherlands, and Spain which have been invited by India to participate as invitees and the representation of the who’s who of the global community is complete. From the international organizations naturally the United Nations, WTO, WHO, World Bank, IMF, ILO, ASEAN, African Union, International Solar Alliance, CDRI and others will be on the high table. By working on the theme of - 'One Earth, One Family, One Future' India hopes to make a mark.

While globally the objective will be to be a voice of the Global South and propel agendas which are needs of the time to include climate action and justice, energy and food security. India will also showcase digital prowess, diversity and unique cultural heritage with G 20 meetings organised in multiple locations at least 11 of which will be in North East and the summit will be in Jammu and Kashmir in September next year.

Given state of geo-polity managing unity in the diverse global forum will remain a challenge as the war in Ukraine is unlikely to come to a satisfactory conclusion even though India may have the unique opportunity of playing a mediator something that was tried by the Indonesian President Joko Widodo as the head of the G 20 this year but did not yield results. Perhaps war fatigue may set the stage for India to take a lead in this sphere.

In the immediate periphery is China’s challenge and tensions over Taiwan as well as India’s own boundary and territorial dispute with Beijing with troops of the two countries continuing in an uneasy standoff over the past 29 months in the hostile weather and terrain environment of Eastern Ladakh. The brief handshake moment at Bali by India’s Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi and the Chinese President Xi Jinping raises some hope but may also be a chimera thus it may be wise to anticipate and prepare for diplomatic contestations especially when India has plans to hold the G 20 Summit in Jammu and Kashmir. This may set off an adverse change of reactions from some other G 20 members as well such as Turkey apart from raising the hackles of Pakistan – a non member but which can raise a diplomatic ruckus.

India will also be member of another important grouping the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) with regional focus on Central and South West Asia. China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are the members with Iran likely to join in 2023, three Observer States - Afghanistan, Belarus, and Mongolia and six “Dialogue Partners” Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Turkey. As head of the SCO there will be multiple engagements to showcase India’s diplomacy in bringing this diverse group to work on key themes of the organisation including terrorism which is likely to be a major focus for New Delhi. Given the presence of Pakistan in this grouping there will be some apparent tensions and striving to keep the block homogeneously will remain a key goal.

Meanwhile India will also be the chair of the Wassenaar Arrangement which can facilitate bolstering India’s efforts to gain access to sensitive goods and technologies from leading players in the West at a time when the focus is on attaining self reliance in defence. Yes 2023 will have many other seminal events and there could be some Black Swan too, but here only those that have a defining impact have been outlined.


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