G20 : Economic Cooperation ahead

A template for Indian engagement with the West


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : G-7

Mains level : Paper 2- Opportunity for India to institutionalise its relations with the West

The article highlights the significance of the recent G-7 summit for India.

India’s engagement with the West

  • Two important messages emerge from India’s participation in G-7 with the members of the G-7 and three other invited guests — Australia, South Africa and South Korea.
  • First is that India is a “natural ally” of the G-7 and its partners.
  • The other is the emphasis on shared democratic values that bind India with the West.
  • The two ideas are certainly not new to India’s foreign policy, but they acquire special importance at the current juncture.
  • In the last few years, India embarked on an expansive engagement with Europe.
  • This G-7 summit can be seen as the beginning of an institutionalisation of India’s cooperation with the West.

What makes this G-7 Summit different from the past Summits?

  • China factor: After the 2008 financial crisis, the more representative G-20, which includes China, Russia, India and many others, seemed to supersede the G-7.
  • But amidst the growing sense that China has gamed the global economic order to America’s disadvantage, there has been renewed interest in like-minded coalitions like the G-7.
  • Widening the base of G-7: There is also the recognition of the case for widening the base of institutions like the G-7 beyond the geographic West to include large democracies like India.
  • Coalition of democracies: The case for a “coalition of democracies” was certainly gaining ground over the last two decades within American academia and the political class.
  • But economic globalisation and the absence of great power rivalry meant there was no compelling policy urgency to construct an “alliance of democracies”.
  • That condition has altered radically in the last few years amidst the growing US tensions with China and Russia. 

Dealing with the challenges presented by China

  • U.S. President Biden declared his main objective as rallying democracies to meet the great challenges of our time, especially those presented by China.
  • G-7 summit has responded to Biden’s call in the following forms:
  • 1) By offering the outline of a potential alternative to China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative.
  • 2)By calling for a reorientation of global supply chains away from China.
  • 3) By demanding a fresh inquiry into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic in China.
  • 4) By reprimanding Beijing policies in Xinjiang and Hong Kong.
  • 5) By raising concerns about the conflict across the Taiwan Strait.
  • However, there is a strong view that the door must be kept open for engagement with China on issues like climate change while calling out its unacceptable policies.

India’s relations with China: New context for engagement with West

  • The rupture in the US engagement with China coincides with the rapid deterioration in India’s relations with China.
  • This also sets up a new context for India’s partnership with the West.
  • If the Indo-Pacific provides a regional basis for India’s engagement with the US and Europe, mitigating climate change and the management of the Covid-19 pandemic provides a global template for India’s engagement with the West.

Way forward

  • The case for renewal and reform of democratic institutions is urgent in both the US and India.
  • So is the need for sustained consultations between India and its Western partners on a range of new challenges presented by digital technologies, including radicalisation, disinformation, electoral interference, cyber-attacks and the role of large social media companies. 
  • The statement on open societies provides a sound basis for such an engagement.


India must begin institutionalisation of its relationship with the West and increase its engagement on various common issues including the China challenge.

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