New York is over: Can India lead Third World in Antalya, Paris, and Nairobi?
by Ashok B Sharma on 09 Oct 2015 2 Comments

The world leaders have just concluded adopting 17 Sustainable Development Goals with 169 targets with an ambitious intention of alleviating global poverty by 2030. But there are miles to go before actual implementations are seen on the ground. Statisticians from different countries are expected to meet in April 2016 to fix the indicators for the targets. It is laudable that unlike the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which was rather imposed by the developed world keeping in view their strategy for disbursing aid at their own whims and designs, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were worked out with the participation of all and the views of civil society solicited in the Open Working Group of the UN General Assembly (UNGA).


Mixed progress was noted in all the 8 MDGs across the world. Many in the developing world had put in place a policy structure and tried to mobilize resources to meet their targets. But the developed world which imposed the MDGs failed to live up to their commitments of rendering financial assistance. The commitment rendering assistance to the tune 0.7% Gross National Income (GNI) proved to be elusive. Though the ODA from developed countries increased by 66% in real terms in 2000-14, it only represented 0.29% of GNI in 2014.


Transfer of technology, innovation and finance holds the key to alleviating poverty. The recipient developing country should create an enabling environment to absorb these three essential requirements, while the developed world should ensure that any such aid does not come with tags and conditions to suit their political intentions.


It is also an encouraging development in a multi-polar world that the developing countries are asserting for a greater say in global politics. In today’s situation of a conflict-torn world and emergence of new economic powers, the structure of the UN Security Council does not represent contemporary realities. It is a happy development that after over two decades of long standing demand, the 69th Session of UNGA succumbed to the voices of the developing world and took a significant step forward to commence text-based negotiations on reforms of UNSC.


This was possible due to the efforts of Sam Kutesa of Uganda who was the president of 69th UNGA and Courtney Rattary (Jamaica member of CARICOM group) who is the chair of UN Intergovernmental Negotiations of Security Council Reforms. The President of the 70th UNGA, Morgen Lykketoft of Denmark assured to facilitate the conclusion of the negotiation during this term.


Can India as an emerging power lead the developing world in getting political and economic justice?  


Prime Minister Narendra Modi took the initiative of convening of the heads of G4 countries (Brazil, Germany, India, Japan) at the sidelines of UNGA to press for reforms in the UNSC. All the G4 countries are aspirants for permanent membership of UNSC and support each other’s candidature. The G4 leaders welcomed the efforts undertaken by member states of African Group, CARICOM and L-69 group. They supported Africa’s representation in both the permanent and non-permanent membership in UNSC and also noted the adequate and continuing representation of small and medium sized member states including the small island developing states in an expanded and reformed UNSC. This was the first such meeting of G4 since 2004.


China is a bone of contention in India’s path to becoming a permanent member of UNSC. However, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj joined the meeting of BRICS (Brazil-Russia-India-China-South Africa) at the sidelines of UNGA where the need for comprehensive reforms of UNSC and unlocking IMF reforms were emphasised. She also hosted the Second India-CARICOM Ministerial and reiterated India’s engaged with the group.


One part of the UN reforms that Prime Minister Modi insisted on is the right of the contributor country to UN Peace Keeping Mission to be consulted. India is among the largest contributors to UN peacekeeping operations with a contribution of over 180,000 troops in 48 out of 69 UN peacekeeping missions so far. India has pitched for passing of the long pending Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism and that the world leaders need to agree to define terrorism instead of distinguishing “good terrorism” and “bad terrorism”.  At India’s instance, Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday, October 2 was observed as International Day of Non-Violence at UN headquarters.


India is an emerging economic power and has emerged as the top destination for FDI inflows in January-June 2015 with $31 billion, leaving China behind with $28 billion and US with $27 billion, according to Financial Times. The country needs more of long-term investment to rise to the level of $17.4 trillion economy like US and $10.3 trillion economy of China. However, India with $2 trillion economy is close to other permanent members of UNSC like UK at $2.9 trillion, France at $2.8 trillion. Russian economy at $1.8 trillion is less than that of India.


Mr Modi has marketed India well during his visit to the UN and the US in his effort to mobilise investment and transfer of technology and innovation so that development can boost poverty alleviation. He has pleaded that for successful implementation of SDGs the developed countries need to transfer finances, technology and innovation to developing countries. He coined the word "personal sector” as opposed to private and public sectors so that development of the individual would mean development of “personal sector”.


The UN General Assembly is over. Ahead is the G-20 Summit in Antalya in Turkey, UNFCCC CoP in Paris and WTO Ministerial in Nairobi. India has a role to lead the developing world in getting justice. G-20 Summit will be contentious with the developing and emerging economies asking for greater say and drawing rights in IMF and World Bank.


Like UNSC reforms, the global financial architecture needs urgent changes. Consistent with the concept of “common but differentiated responsibilities” in climate talks, India believes the developing world should have unhindered right to development for which the developed world should transfer finances, innovations and technology at cheaper cost. This would thus lead to the path of sustainable and green development.


This is real “climate justice,” as Prime Minister Modi said. The small island states should be adequately helped in developing sustainable blue economy. Similarly on the path to Nairobi, India should insist on the right of national governments to hold stocks to ensure food security and a level playing field for developing countries in multilateral trade. As New York fades into the background, the moot question is – Can India lead the developing world through Antalya, Paris and Nairobi?   

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