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op-ed – New churn: Editorial on Narendra Modi’s attendance at back-to-back world summits




For India, it highlights New Delhi’s balancing act between its Western friends and its traditional role as a key voice for the global South.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the BRICS summit via video conference in New Delhi.

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The Editorial Board


Posted on 30.06.22, 02:35

Global summits are often as much about symbolism and messages as they are about well-defined outcomes. Last week, Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended, virtually, a meeting with the leaders of Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa – the BRICS grouping. Then on Monday, he joined leaders of the G7 group of major industrialized economies and their counterparts from Indonesia, South Africa, Argentina and Senegal at a physical summit in the Bavarian Alps. Back-to-back conclaves underscored the spinning world, with war in Ukraine, rising inflation around the world, and the threat of looming recession in the United States of America and parts of Europe. For India, they also showed the balance New Delhi is trying to strike between its Western friends and its traditional role as a key voice for the global South. The advantages of such an approach for India are numerous. It can strengthen cooperation with the West against threats posed by China without ceding leadership of the developing world to Beijing. At the same time, New Delhi and Beijing can speak with one voice on certain issues, such as climate change. India can also reap the benefits of warm relations with the United States and Russia.

But recent highs have also highlighted the risks of India’s tightrope walking. New Delhi is believed to have played a role in ensuring that the BRICS statement released at the end of this meeting did not criticize the West. Meanwhile, a “statement on resilient democracies” issued by G7 leaders and their five guests after the summit in Germany was completely silent on the war in Ukraine, with no criticism of Russia. It would be easy to see this as an example of how India’s neutral role in world affairs helps its friends on both sides of the debate. But in a world more polarized than it has been since the end of the Cold War, those who try to prevent large groups from asserting aggressive postures can just as easily be seen as obstacles or liabilities. India must remember the national strengths that have earned it repeated G7 invitations since 2003 and made it a pillar of the BRICS: economic promise and a stable society committed to democracy and pluralism. If he flounders over those at home, he won’t be able to hold his ground abroad.




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