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India & G20: “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” or “One Earth One Family One Future”

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Pooja Paswan
November 21, 2022

The G20 was founded in 1999 after the Asian financial crisis as a forum for the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors to discuss global economic and financial issues. The G20 was later upgraded to the level of Heads of State/Government and was designated the “premier forum for international economic cooperation”. Since 2011, the G20 Summit has been held annually, under the leadership of a rotating Presidency. The G20 initially focused largely on broad macroeconomic policy, but it has since expanded its ambit to include trade, climate change, sustainable development, energy, environment, climate change, anti-corruption, etc.

Organisational Structure

The G20 does not have a charter or a secretariat. The Presidency, aided by the countries holding the Presidency before and after it (Troika), is responsible for setting the agenda of each year’s Summit. The G20 process is led by the Sherpas of member countries, who are personal emissaries of the Leaders. The Sherpas, oversee negotiations over the course of the year, discussing agenda items for the Summit and coordinating the substantive work of the G20.

The G20’s work is divided into two tracks: the Finance Track and the Sherpa Track. Within the two tracks, there are thematically oriented working groups in which representatives from the relevant ministries of the members as well as from invited/guest countries and various international organizations participate. The working groups meet regularly throughout the term of each Presidency. The agenda is also influenced by current economic developments as well as by the tasks and goals agreed upon in previous years. The G20 holds a multi-year mandate to ensure institutional continuity.

G20 Bali Summit

The 17th Group of 20 (G20) Heads of State and Government Summit is taking place in October 2022 in Bali, Indonesia. Under the Indonesian Presidency, the G20 in 2022 will focus on the theme, ‘Recover Together, Recover Stronger’. The Leaders’ Summit is the climax of the G20 process and the intense work carried out over the year through Ministerial Meetings, Working Groups and Engagement Groups. Recognizing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on every aspect of society and many countries’ lack of capacity to address the crisis, the Indonesian Presidency will focus on three main pillars for its G20 2022 Presidency:

  • global health architecture;
  • sustainable energy transition; and
  • digital transformation.

Through these pillars, Indonesia aims to continue leading on ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, promoting sustainable and inclusive economic development through participation of micro-, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and digital economy.

The G20 is made up of 19 countries and the European Union. The 19 countries are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan,  the Republic of Korea, Mexico, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States.

India’s G20 Presidency

India is all set to take over the G20 Presidency from Indonesia at the end of the upcoming G20 Summit on November 15-16. India will officially assume the presidency of the intergovernmental forum on December 1, 2022. Prime Minister Modi also noted that India’s G20 Presidency will be based on “Vasudhaiva Kutumbhakam” or “One Earth One Family One Future”, underlining the message of equitable growth and a shared future for all. 

“Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” or “One Earth One Family One Future”

The G20 Logo draws inspiration from the vibrant colours of India’s national flag—saffron, white and green and blue. It juxtaposes planet Earth with the lotus, India’s national flower that reflects growth amid challenges. The Earth reflects India’s pro-planet approach to life, one in perfect harmony with nature. Below the G20 logo is “Bharat”, written in the Devanagari script.

The theme of India’s G20 Presidency—“Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” or “One Earth One Family One Future”—is drawn from the ancient Sanskrit text of the Maha Upanishad. Essentially, the theme affirms the value of all life—human, animal, plant and microorganisms—and their interconnectedness on the planet Earth and in the wider universe.

The theme also spotlights LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment), with its associated, environmentally sustainable and responsible choices, both at the level of individual lifestyles as well as national development, leading to globally transformative actions resulting in a cleaner, greener and bluer future.

The logo and the theme together convey a powerful message of India’s G20 Presidency, symbolizing striving for just and equitable growth for all in the world, as we navigate through these turbulent times, in a sustainable, holistic, responsible and inclusive manner. They represent a uniquely Indian approach to our G20 Presidency, of living in harmony with the surrounding ecosystem.

For India, the G20 Presidency also marks the beginning of “Amritkaal”, the 25-year period beginning from the 75th anniversary of its independence on August 15th, 2022, leading up to the centenary of its independence, towards a futuristic, prosperous, inclusive and developed society, distinguished by a human-centric approach at its core.

India’s G20 Agenda

During the G20 summit this year, India will raise the issue of renewable energy and digital revolution. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to put forward the agenda of India addressing key global challenges in the areas of health, post pandemic economic recovery and energy and food security at the summit. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi will participate in three key sessions: food and energy security, digital transformation and health. He will also deliberate on key issues of contemporary relevance, including the state of global economy, issues relating to energy, environment, agriculture, health and digital transformation.

The road ahead

The G20 countries are facing several challenges related to climate, energy security, food security and the problem of global health. As the theme “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” means “One Earth One Family One Future”, we must remember, we are in this together.

Author: Pooja Paswan is currently enrolled at the John.F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi, India. She has Ph. D in Public Administration and specializes in Public Policy. She was recipient of the ASPA 2019 Founders Fellow. She has worked extensively in the area of development administration and policy. She can be reached at https://jmi.academia.edu/PoojaPaswan and [email protected]. Twitter @poojapaswan

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