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‘Diplomatic World Cup’: In G20 summit, India looks for moment in the sun

India is in full swing to host the Group of 20 (G20) summit, the largest gathering of world leaders in the country in four decades. Preparations have included road closures, school and office closures, and the adornment of the capital with decorations and billboards featuring Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The G20 summit, with its agenda spanning climate finance, debt waivers, food security, and public health, presents an opportunity for the host country to showcase its diplomatic influence and global standing. Hosting the summit is seen as akin to hosting the diplomatic “World Cup,” attracting substantial attention and media coverage.

Hari Seshasayee, a visiting fellow at the Observer Research Foundation, describes the hosting privilege as a way to engage with significant nations that wouldn’t typically occur to this extent. India’s importance on the global stage is accentuated as a result, with foreign ministers from numerous countries participating in events like the annual Raisina Dialogue.

However, India’s role as the G20 president also comes with challenges. The G20 is currently a divided group with competing interests among its member nations. Disagreements, exacerbated by Russia’s conflict in Ukraine, have made it difficult to reach consensus on various issues. Consequently, India faces the possibility of not issuing a joint communique at the summit, which would be a first in G20 history.

While the summit presents an opportunity for India to assert its diplomatic influence and engage with major world powers, it also underscores the challenges of navigating a fractured G20 and securing unified agreements on pressing global matters.

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