In the Grip of G20: Behind Many Façades

G20 1


When the media and elites are debating what would be the proper name of the country, issues like ‘one country one election’, ISRO chief’s statement, Uday Stalin’s statement and etcetera, New Delhi was gearing up for the grand show of the year: G20 Summit. For the ‘security’ of 25,000 delegates [1] all schools of Delhi will remain closed from September 8 to 10 as Delhi’s AAP ruled state government announced, colleges; offices, banks, all will remain closed and many trains will end their journey before reaching Delhi proper. Whoever coined the term ‘beautification’ and whoever popularized this North American concept of urban makeover cleverly hid the associated cruel and vulgar display of govt wealth. Every beautification comes with bizarre spending of public fund and pushing the poor farther away. This time there were at least 49 demolition drives smashing many slums and displacing thousands, whereas more than 120 million $ (or 1000 crore ₹) was spent for the foreigners and also for Delhi’s elite who despise slums [2] but use slum-dweller’s cheap labour nonetheless. Indian public is used to ‘VIP culture’ where for the sake of smooth journey of dignitaries all other traffic may be kept standstill (or may be diverted) for any length of time. Perhaps this is a royal and colonial hangover, for the same type of ‘security measures’ were seen during the Bali summit in Indonesia last November (according to a newspaper report, “Community activities, classes at schools, office work, and traditional and religious ceremonies will be suspended for five days.” [3])


For the entertainment of those 25,000 delegates there will be 300 programmes, 18,000 artists will perform, a special exhibition at art gallery will feature ‘history and culture’ of India and so on so forth. Neither media nor our political and social elites questioned the zamindari fanfare psyche of the government. In this G20 club of countries India is poorest [see tables at the bottom]: India’s per-capita GDP is lowest in the group; the second from bottom country Indonesia’s per-capita GDP is 75% higher than that of India and South Africa’s figure in 90% higher. Also, by Human Development Index figure India ranks lowest (India 0.633, Indonesia 0.705, South Africa 0.713).

Table: Country Comparison

GDP Per Capita

Sources: [4]

All big parties of opposition who are now united in an electoral alliance named I.N.D.I.A. have their supporter bases in the capital. But not a single of them are actually bothered about these extravaganzas, this VIP culture, this bourgeois ideas of beatification; no one of them thought of protesting theses NDA government’s designs and activities; rather whenever they are in a state government or a partner in central government, they all enjoyed this lavishness.


It may be argued that if India is in such a position why India attracts some awe from the ruling classes of many smaller countries and why even the topmost powers like G7 countries shows some extra ‘flattery’ to India’s present state dignitaries. There are several reasons, the main ones being:

  1. Despite India’s per-capita GDP is smaller, due to population size, total GDP is higher (fifth largest in the world), government’s spending ability is, more or less, high, government’s inheritance of a large armed forces and government’s design to be a regional super-power at least from the early 1970s, all contributed to India becoming a leading military force in the world (fourth largest) and a leading defence spender (fifth largest).
  2. Due to availability of scientific and technical manpower and long-standing governmental nourishment programme India’s scientific ability in nuclear, space and some other fields could become significant and India could become a leading powerhouse in this field besides supplying developed countries with thousands of scientists and engineers regularly.
  3. India is perhaps the most favourite destination of investment by capitalists of the world now. Opportunities for exploiting cheap labour and looting abundant resources by government support (after liberalisation) lure those capitalists.
  4. India is the biggest purchaser of the imperialist military-industrial complex. Moreover, India is a leading buyer in non-military purchases like passenger aeroplanes, fuels (including petroleum), organic chemicals and plastics, electrical machinery, gold and other precious metals and gems, minerals, computers etc. India is a big market for consumer goods produced by many big corporate groups of the world.

These are some reasons for which the Indian government and ruling classes got prominence to different governments and financial powers.


Has the G20 changed the geopolitical scenario, the world’s balance of power and helped ending the US hegemony (or the US-Euro-Japan hegemony)? No. how could it be when it was not at all designed for this end by the G7 power themselves!

After the Asian market meltdown some G7 policymakers thought of creating this G20. Germany’s Hans Eichel, Canada’s Paul Martin and USA’s Larry Summers were behind the creation of this group in 1999. The G20 started meeting annually from 2007-08. Decisions as to which countries will be G20 members were taken by big business executives close to the initial planners of G20.

India government’s pro-USA and pro-Israel role increased much in this century. Govt. bought surveillance equipment and software from Israel. Just after this G20 meeting, the QUAD that is the group of USA, Japan, Australia, and India will start their next naval exercise in the Malabar coast. This QUAD is the US led front in the pacific to counterbalance the forces of China (also Russia and North Africa) in the pacific. The rulers of India happily joined the QUAD group for their uneasiness with China. But when big powers are fighting proxy-war, G20 cannot take any stand. This is very apparent in case of the Russia-vs-Ukraine war for example.


G20 also could not deviate from the path of imperialist led ‘growth’ design not only because G20 is powerless, but also because rulers of non-G7 countries too prefer the same models.

There are ornamental talks, high sounding words as can be seen in the agenda of this Delhi summit.

  • Green Development, Climate Finance & LiFE
  • Accelerated, Inclusive & Resilient Growth
  • Accelerating progress on SDGs
  • Technological Transformation & Digital Public Infrastructure
  • Multilateral Institutions for the 21st century
  • Women-led development

But anyone can guess the results. The first three are somehow or other connected with the SDG or ‘sustainable development goals’ and this ‘sustainable development’ was a whitewash word coined in 1987. We have seen how ‘development’ led by imperialists, capitalists, became unsustainable. There is no attempt whatsoever to diminish use of fossil fuels: India, USA, Australia all are in this lucrative business. While British Petroleum leads Arctic drilling attempts from the Atlantic side, Russia’s Gazprom took India’s ONGC as partner in doing the same from the Pacific end. There is no sign of abating greenhouse gas emission. Discussing ‘Women led development’ in the Delhi summit sounds ridiculous: India has the lowest % of women parliamentarians (12.6%) among G20 countries [5], the govt party is constantly dilly-dallying on the 33% seat reservation issue for women in parliament.

The above expose is only a short discussion on G20 and India’s role. It was heartening to see farmers unions in Panjab staged a big protest during a G20 event in Amritsar. There were protest demonstrations in all districts. Sadly, during this final gala festival no such efforts could be seen till now.


[1] Hindustan Times:

[2] Reuters: ; Livemint:

[3] Arab News:

[4] and Data are of 2022.


Sandeep Banerjee is a political commentator


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