New Delhi, Nov 14 (PTI) India has made G20 far more inclusive by ensuring the induction of the African Union as a permanent member of the grouping under its presidency, New Delhi's G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant said on Tuesday, days ahead of the second edition of the virtual Voice of Global South summit.
In an address at a conference, Kant also described the G20 New Delhi leaders' declaration as a very hard-fought victory for the Global South as it reflected the aspirations of the developing countries.
The conference themed "G20 Delhi Summit: Inclusive Growth and Rise of the Global South" was organised by India Writes Network, Centre for Global Insights India and School of International Relations, Jawaharlal Nehru University.
"One of the lasting images that will carry on forever in my mind of India's G20 presidency is the image of the prime minister hugging the president of Comoros and welcoming the African Union as a permanent member of the G20," Kant said.
"With that one stroke, India ensured that the G20 became a far more inclusive institution," he said.
In a significant milestone under India's G20 presidency, the African Union in September became the new permanent member of the grouping of the largest economies of the world in the first expansion of the influential bloc since its inception in 1999.
India was consistently batting for inclusion of the African Union as a G20 member so as to ensure representation of the African continent in the top global body.
The African Union (AU) is an influential organisation comprising 55 member states that make up the countries of the African continent.
In his remarks, Kant said many countries wanted ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) to be part of G20 while some others wanted some other regional groupings to be made part of the bloc.
"However, India stood firm (on African Union's membership)," he said, adding "India has made G20 more inclusive by bringing AU into the grouping." The top negotiator said the G20 New Delhi leaders' declaration was a very hard-fought victory for the Global South.
"Every letter in it, every word in it, every sentence in it and every paragraph in it has been hard fought throughout the year for the sake of the Global South," he said.
In the last few years, India has been positioning itself as a leading voice flagging concerns, challenges and aspirations of the Global South or the developing nations, especially the African continent.
As the G20 president, India has been focusing on issues like inclusive growth, digital innovation, climate resilience, and equitable global health access with an aim to benefit the Global South or the developing countries.
Months after taking over the presidency of the G20, India hosted the first edition of the virtual 'Voice of Global South Summit' under the theme 'unity of voice, unity of purpose' on January 12 and 13 with a view to flag concerns of the Global South.
The second edition of the virtual summit is set to take place on Friday.
"When we started our G20 presidency, there were several challenges around the world. If you look at the world, it was the post COVID-19 era. Close to 200 million people had gone below the poverty line, almost 100 million people had lost their jobs," Kant said.
It was an era when the world was going into recession. One third of the world was already into recession. Around 75 countries were facing a debt crisis. There was a challenge of climate finance and climate action and on top of all this we had a raging war in Europe," he said.
"We took these crises as an opportunity as the prime minister then said that our presidency must be inclusive, it should be decisive, it must be ambitious and it must be action-oriented," Kant said.
The G20 Sherpa said the declaration has about 83 paras, 87 outcomes and 112 odd documents attached to it, adding all the decisions were taken with consensus.
"This document is devoid of any reservations, any dissent, any footnote or objections from any country, these all have been arrived at through consensus By doing so India has brought multilateralism to centre stage," he said.
"No G20 declaration has so many outcomes and annexed documents to it. By doing this, India brought multilateralism to the centrestage," he said.
Kant said India has demonstrated that it is possible in today's world for an emerging market like India to bring consensus among other emerging markets in a highly fragmented global order and move towards multilateralism.
Other eminent personalities who spoke at the conference included Ambassador Kanwal Sibal, South Africa's High Commissioner to India Joel Sibusiso Ndebele and Alem Tsesaye Woldemariam, Dean of Diplomatic Corps in India. PTI MPB ZMN