Apparently, the stalemate over the joint declaration by the G20 summit over Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has been resolved. Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself declared that the Leadership Declaration has reached a consensus despite stiff opposition from Russia and China. At the time of writing on Saturday evening, things were looking perfect for the summiteers. Barring a last-minute snag, we think the summit is on course to be a great success. Though the West wanted a stronger condemnation of the Russian aggression, an anodyne construction reflecting the global forum’s unease at the continuing aggression against its much smaller neighbour has been incorporated in the 38-page statement. Of course, it is sheer audacity of Russia and China that they resist any reference to invasion of Ukraine. It is akin to a child being thrashed by the teacher for no fault of his but being most cussedly denied the right to cry as a natural consequence of that beating. Russia wants Ukraine and its Western allies to accept its military assault and devastation of Ukraine as an accomplished fact but put up with it instead of protesting in global forums. This is sheer bullying, something its comrade-in-arms, China, too has taken to doing against its smaller land and maritime neighbours.
Clearly, the old global order is crumbling and there are plenty of hiccups in the rise of the new one. China, the second largest military and economic power, with Russia, the erstwhile Cold War warrior, playing second fiddle is now engaged in reordering the global forums in its own light. In the recent Brics summit in South Africa, China played an assertive role, hoping to turn the organisation into a pro-China bloc, admitting new members such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and a couple of others. In this context, the suggestion by former Economic Adviser to the Finance Minister Arvind Subramanian, that India should quit Brics, needs consideration. For, India cannot be a mere spectator while China and Russia together hijack the forum for their own partisan ends. China is known suborn relatively small African and Latin American countries by generously spending on its Belt and Road heist. And then extracts a huge price in prohibitory interest or simply takes over the assets — as it has done in Sri Lanka and Pakistan, to cite but one example. India, on its part does not have that kind of money, besides its diplomatic actions are informed by altruistic objectives. Meanwhile, the discomfort in the Congress party and other Opposition groups about Modi burnishing his domestic image ahead of the Lok Sabha poll in April-May may be genuine. But it smacks of sheer peevishness. Comparing it to the 1983 Non-Aligned Summit or a few months later the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Delhi was a much smaller affair in ambition and content. Congress spokesperson Jairam Ramesh the other day compared the G20 summit with Indira Gandhi’s 1983 summit, ignoring that fact that it was Indira Gandhi’s effort to try and put behind the stigma of the Emergency during which India was virtually turned into a one-woman autocracy.
Anyway, given that the success of the G-20 summit will redound to the credit of India, that is Bharat, though Modi may see his public profile further enhanced, the Opposition should be graceful and cooperate with the government. Meanwhile, it was churlish of Rahul Gandhi, chaperoned by his foreign sherpa, Sam Pitroda and hold forth on all manners of domestic issues in Brussels. To undertake such a controversial exercise only to berate the Indian government when the latter is holding one of the most significant global summits showed a complete lack of common sense. But then the country has come to expect little from the Congress leader who allows himself to be manipulated by his advisers who have an eye on good times should the Congress return to power. Incidentally, it will be interesting to inquire into the role of the West Europe-based Indian who had allegedly fled the country when V P Singh was prime minister in organising the Brussels meeting of the Gandhi scion. Sonia Gandhi too had been hosted by the controversial individual during the UPA rule, courtesy a large business house. Meanwhile. Gandhi harping on China grabbing chunks of Indian land would suggest that in his desperation to defeat Modi he is willing to stoop so low. Of course, we have no intention of raking up about 40,000 square kilometres forfeited in 1962, but is it Rahul’s inner wish that China should undertake another border adventure ahead of the 2024 poll so that the Congress can get the better of Modi? Opposition to Modi should not turn so bitter that it hurts the larger national interest. It will be in the fitness of things if at the end of a successful G-20 summit the Opposition felicitated the prime minister. We have our doubts, especially when even people like Jairam Ramesh pour undeserved vitriol against the prime minister.