By Krishna Jha
The first meeting of Development Working Group under India’s G20 presidency has taken place in Mumbai. Members, guest countries and international organizations attended the conference from December 13 to 16, 2022, held at Jio World Centre in Bandra-Kurla complex.
Eleven municipal wards that were to be visited by G20 guests, had been allotted a huge sum of Rs 24.23 crore to beautify the area. The dwellers here had been many times witness to such gala affairs in Mumbai. But they never had any illusion about the permanence of such measures, though they have been the ones to shoulder the financial liabilities, as tax payers.
As supposed to be security measures, white curtain like barricades were erected at several places between Santacruz and Borivali in Mumbai. Many such shrouds came up to cover the miseries reigning over the famous Mumbai slums. According to activists, there are heaps of garbage and slush covered up behind the curtains. The cars taking the delegates to different places were always running at very high speed, while children kept playing on the road and running across. These risks had no space in the management’s ‘to be attended’ lists. The hawkers had been shut off from the entire area, while encroachers, bulldozed and barred at the gate, were left with nowhere to go.
It is the first meeting after India’s prime minister Narendra Modi was elected as the president of G20 which gathers the governments and central bank governors of 19 of the world’s largest economies plus the European Union (EU). Since its formation, G20 has been a self-appointed group intending to set financial and economic guidelines for the world, except those at the margins of economic power. Multinational corporations play a central role within the G20 in influencing recommendations and decisions, including those around women’s economic empowerment.
Representatives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank are among the regular invitees. Together, they push for free trade regimes and economic growth as the main agenda drivers. Social and economic justice and human rights have no space here. It has been obvious that free trade and investment agreements have been proved to have destructive effect not only on people’s lives but also on the environment. G20 has proved to be helping the process of liberalization globally for the advantage of only few extremely richer sections of the population, at the expense of the majority others.
Formed in 1999, it was originally meant for meeting of the finance ministers and the governors of the Central Banks precisely to formulate and amend the policies that could help resolve the global economic and financial crisis. India holds the presidency of the G20 from December 1, 2022 to November 30, 2023. The presidency is by rotation, and for one year. The member nations face no prohibition about investing in any country among those in G20.
Each of the countries in G20 has its own socio economic system that is not necessarily democratic except few. There are several of them that have either dictatorship or even autocracy. Among them are those countries like Saudi Arabia, ruled by the king who wields absolute power.
The honour that the presidency is supposed to bestow on the country is indicated nowhere except in the heavy expenses spent to keep those taking part in debates happy. One key indicator that G20 has no power is that its presidency is assigned by rotation and changes every year. This means that everyone gets it by turn. Among the merits for which Presidency is bestowed on a country is to host the others at one’s own expenses. The G-20 is meant to discuss trade, but it includes nations which are currently in a trade war (America and China) or might not have a free trade treaty with the others.
It is meant to discuss climate, but includes the countries that were and continue to be the greatest villains in terms of carbon emissions. It includes those that are treaty allies in military terms (Europe and the United States), meaning that an attack on one of them triggers an attack on all of them. It also includes nations against whom specifically these treaties are signed, (Russia) and against whom these nations are currently arming rivals. It includes nations that have no borders and whose citizens can move and work and invest freely in each other’s countries (European Union).
In the context of G20, one must remember that for these counties, Corporate engagement is always good news for development. Business20, or the B20, presents itself as the “private sector’s voice” of the G20 community. It is also a fact that world’s largest corporations are based in G20 countries and has considerable economic power. By the late 1990s, it was becoming clear to policy makers that economic troubles did not stop at western borders, and that traditional meetings like the Group of Seven were ill-suited for new challenges. That point had been painfully underscored by the collapse of the Mexican peso, the Asian financial crisis and the rise of emerging economies.G-20 only exists because of crises that the West cannot handle on its own. (IPA Service)