G20 summit: India as a new superpower?

The G20 Summit will be held in India this weekend under the motto One Earth, One Family, One Future. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping have announced they won't be attending and are sending representatives instead. Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has proudly described the host country as the "largest democracy in the world" and emphasised that it has also overtaken China as the most populous nation. Europe's press discusses India's ambitions.

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Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

No voice for the poor

Gazeta Wyborcza views India's efforts to spruce up its image as at odds with the country's ambition to be the voice of the "Global South":

“For months, the capital has been in the process of being spruced up. A clean, flower-strewn and, above all, slum-free city is what the world is supposed to see. Slum inhabitants have been brutally evicted by the police, and their dilapidated houses immediately destroyed by demolition teams. While the government denies that the slum 'clean-up' is related to the summit, Western media have noted that India is ashamed of its glaring social disparities and poverty, and that it is making a huge effort to hide them. And now Modi will address the summit on behalf of the poorer nations of the world while his police brutalise Delhi's urban poor.”

La Stampa (IT) /

Fence-sitting between alliances

India avoids being pinned down in its foreign policy, notes La Stampa:

“Modi's vision is that of a state that asserts its national interests without having to 'choose' sides. ... A non-aligned country that is a member of the Brics but also of the Quad (along with the US, Japan and Australia); a strategic rival of Beijing, but with a pronounced anti-Western stance; a supporter of Ukraine's territorial integrity but unwilling to sanction Moscow. In short, an India that revives the Cold War tradition of non-aligned states while at the same time radically reinterpreting it.”

Die Presse (AT) /

China has vassals, not allies

There is no basis for joint strategies between China and India, Die Presse comments:

“Autocrats Xi and Modi have nothing in common except for their anti-Western resentment. On the contrary, the two Asian nuclear powers are bitter geopolitical rivals whose unresolved border conflict in the Himalayas recently reignited dangerously. ... An alliance of autocrats is unlikely to succeed since it is a contradiction in terms. Ethnic nationalism is exclusionary and exclusive: these chauvinist regimes are driven by paranoia and persecution complexes; they regard foreign or critical powers as an existential threat. ... They pathologically pursue vested interests and are therefore never reliable partners. ... China has vassals, not allies.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

Expand the UN Security Council and the G20

Anne Genetet, a member of the National Assembly for Macron's Renaissance party, makes the following appeal in Le Figaro:

“France and India should launch a series of joint initiatives in the coming days to reform 'global governance' and make it more representative and effective. I support India's proposal to include the African Union in the G20. ... In view of the international situation and the attacks on Western interests and values, this accession must take place as soon as possible. The G20 summit in New Delhi is an ideal opportunity for this. After that, France and India could introduce to the debate their proposal to expand the Security Council to encompass India, as well as representatives from Africa and Latin America.”

jinovsvet.blog (SI) /

Welcome to Bharat!

In official invitations to a G20 state banquet on Saturday, the word India has been replaced with the Sanskrit word Bharat. Commenting in his blog Jinov Svet, Sašo Ornik sees this as a good sign:

“Perhaps the decision to change the country's name is a sign that this is a mature society that wants to stand on its own two feet. ... Of course, the question is whether Bharat is an appropriate name, as there has been criticism. The ruling BJP party is considered nationalist and is quite hostile to the Islamic heritage. ... Although I'm used to the name 'India', I personally would like to see a change of name. It behoves a great power to decide for itself what to call itself and not to remain hostage to the colonial era.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

A farce without China and Russia

This G20 is all about PR for the host, La Repubblica scoffs:

“Xi Jinping will not come to Delhi, nor will Vladimir Putin, lest he be arrested. So it is to be feared that this global 'big family' that Modi is promoting will not present a joint communiqué for the first time since the G20 was founded in 1999. ... Will this be above all an image victory that tells the world of Indian cities without slums, without poor people, without annoying macaques or stray dogs? ... Image counts, after all, and a lot, especially for a government that can derive important electoral benefits from this prestige in 2024. Though perhaps less so for those displaced in the course of this expensive 'beautification' campaign.”

Le Monde (FR) /

Growing rivalry

Le Monde interprets Xi Jinping's absence as a message to India:

“It is the first time that Xi will be absent from a G20 summit. Beijing has not given an explanation for this absence. Is this to avoid a meeting with Joe Biden, whom it is due to meet at the Apec leaders' meeting in November in San Francisco? ... Is Xi focusing on domestic problems instead? Or does he want to show the host, Narendra Modi, who calls the shots in Asia? This latter explanation, which is set against the backdrop of rivalry between the two Asian giants for leadership of the 'Global South', obviously has many supporters. The rivalry between Beijing and Delhi was already palpable at the Brics summit at the end of August, which Xi completely dominated.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Time for a more critical view

The West should not close its eyes to India's undemocratic side, warns The Guardian:

Narendra Modi is an authoritarian figure who, as India's prime minister since 2014, has pushed his country into increasingly becoming a 'de facto ethnic democracy', in which Hindus define the national identity and non-Hindus are seen as second-class citizens. ... Mr Modi's dangerous majoritarianism is too easily overlooked by the West, as the G20 glad-handing will show. ... The West thinks that it must keep stumm because it needs India to contain China. But at what cost to democracy and human rights?”