Rahul Chhabra: We are changing the G20 into a sort of the people’s movement
India’s former Secretary of External Affairs for Economic Relations talked about the significant achievements of India’s presidency in the G20 in an exclusive interview to the TV BRICS
In a special media project BRICS & G20. 2023 ahead of the G20 summit, TV BRICS International Media Network and its partners, major national media outlets of the BRICS countries, interviewed leading experts from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. TV BRICS is an officially accredited media outlet of the G20 summit in New Delhi.
Among the speakers is Rahul Chhabra, India’s former Secretary (Economic Relations), Ministry of External Affairs, who spoke about the significant achievements of India’s presidency in the G20 in 2023.
Rahul Chhabra has an undergraduate degree in Economics from St. Stephens College, Delhi University. While serving in New Delhi, he worked to promote foreign investment flows into India. Later, he served as Director for External Publicity at the Ministry of External Affairs and Director in the Foreign Secretary’s Office. During his stints abroad, he served in China, United States, France, Belgium, Senegal, and the Philippines.
How do you view India’s preparations for the G20 summit this year and its engagement in related events within the G20 agenda?
India is extremely well prepared. We have used the period before the summit to extensively engage with all the different stakeholders. So, we have got our preparations in order in every sector. In some of the groups we are supposed to lead the discussions where we are obviously going to be guiding completely the way the working groups are going to be moving forward in the others where we may not be leading, we are definitely putting across our viewpoints. We are explaining to the G20 members, why we want and what we want, because we are well prepared. And this is across all sectors from multilateral development, bank funding from agriculture head energy, clean energy environment.
What are the significant achievements or positive developments of India’s role in the G20 presidency in 2023?
There are many. In fact, we can start with the most recent one, maybe the culture group meeting that just took place a few days back, which was held in Varanasi, where it was appreciated by most of the countries. <..> If you talk about the G20 achievements, about the role of women, you know how critical it is for any society that’s developing. We may not realise it, but the role of women in the workforce as influencers in society is absolutely critical and that is being brought out in the forefront by us in our discussions. Similarly, the role of values we are just going in for economic growth, or is there some sort of a value system on which it’s all going to be hinged.
Then the role of peoples. We are changing the G20 into a sort of the people’s movement. So, the whole of India at least is now realising what G20 is all about. If you come to the hard subjects, the achievements, the big one is on the multilateral development banks, the funding for that. <…>Then in terms of food security, the role of Millets in enhancing food security. Then we talk about the role of supply chains. And then, of course, the more recent issue was on the disaster risk reduction. It’s a brand new working group being set up. And that is obviously, India’s contribution so like that we can continue enumerating many, many contributions over the last few months.
How is the G20 framework contributed to strengthening the influence of developing nations? And what role has India played in driving this progress during it’s presidency?
India has played a very critical role in bringing out the concerns of the developing countries, for example, by pushing the membership of the EU. So to make it a full-fledged member. So the minute the EU comes in, 54, 55 countries of the African Union come on board. Due South Africa is there, but otherwise Africa is not represented. So automatically their concerns are coming on board. So that’s just one example.
Then Prime Minister Modi organised the ‘Voice of Global South’ summit. Over 120 countries participated due to the virtual summit.
So what are the concerns of the developing countries which are brought on board? Similarly, at the BRICS summit, the Prime Minister and the delegation interacted with many other countries members of the developing South and their concerns are all being brought on to the G20 agenda.