New Delhi (Inde)
Delhi shines. From the majestic districts of power to those of the embassies, from illuminated monuments to shaded avenues, the south of the city is cleaned, renovated and embellished. Through the G20 summit, which is being held on September 9 and 10, India’s prestige is at stake. The authorities are spending lavishly to make the capital shine in the eyes of delegations from the world’s richest nations.
Cleared of monkeys and stray dogs, the recently paved arteries are lined with potted plants lined up as far as the eye can see. The homeless were displaced and the slums camouflaged. The security system is extraordinary, supported by thousands of police officers and anti-drone systems.
The master of ceremonies is Prime Minister Narendra Modi. His white-bearded face is displayed at all bus stops, next to the G20 symbol bearing the lotus flower, the emblem of his Hindu nationalist party, the BJP. Two birds with one stone.
The excessive publicity of the G20 coincides with the approach of legislative elections scheduled for the spring. Narendra Modi, almost 73 years old, will seek a third term. “Indian voters are becoming aware of India’s growing stature on the world stage under Narendra Modi,” enthuses Shakti Singh, Indian youth representative for the G20 under the colors of the BJP.
The campaign is already in full swing. Around thirty opposition parties have formed an unprecedented coalition to “save democracy”. “The presidency of the G20 is rotating but this government presents it as a privilege granted to India thanks to Narendra Modi,” denounces Karti Chidambaram, opposition MP. The BJP turned this international event into a political campaign for the prime minister. »
Everything seems to be smiling about an India courted abroad. It has become this year the most populous country and, last year, the fifth largest economy on the planet, ahead of the former colonizer, the United Kingdom. Its space program is crowned with recent exploits. Formerly infrequent by Western chancelleries, Narendra Modi was France’s guest of honor on July 14, following a visit to Washington. The government thus flatters Indian nationalism, masking inflation or unemployment.
As part of the summit, Narendra Modi proclaimed himself the voice of the “global South”. To strengthen the weight of developing countries, he is campaigning for the integration of the African Union, i.e. 55 countries, into the G20. An initiative approved this Thursday by the other members.
The Prime Minister knows how to address his guests: he will quote Mahatma Gandhi, although hated by his party, and will praise India as the “mother of democracy”, despite the repression carried out against the media, civil society and the opponents. But by multiplying his ambitions, will Narendra Modi burn his wings? “India’s silence on the war in Ukraine, Chinese ambitions in Taiwan or the ethnic conflict in Manipur (a state in the northeast of India, editor’s note), raises questions,” notes analyst Mohamed Zeeshan (1).
Mastering the G20 multilateral format will be a challenge for India. If the slogan promises “One Earth, one family, one future”, the participants are more divided than ever. While the Indian presidency gave hope for mediation on the Ukrainian crisis with Russia, Vladimir Putin has withdrawn and will not come. Just like his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, who is irritated by India’s rapprochement with the Western camp, while tensions persist on the common border in the Himalayas.
Navigating between the West, Russia and China, Indian diplomacy has little room for maneuver. On the issues of the war in Ukraine, the climate and the reduction of fossil fuels, the search for a consensus promises to be a daunting challenge. India could thus be the first country to chair a G20 summit which ends without an agreement.