Date :18-Nov-2022

OBVIOUSLY, the only message that should emanate from a conclave such as G-20 should be of peace and not of war. Months ago, Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi had given this straight-word message of ‘era of peace and not of war’ to Russian President Mr. Vladimir Putin. His frankness and courage were hailed by the world then, and is being hailed now even at the G-20 summit in Bali, Indonesia. To that extent, Mr. Modi’s leadership role also got endorsed at the summit. The problem, however, is that the collective world leadership does not seem to move ahead of the ‘no-war’ rhetoric and keeps plotting ideas that may eventually lead to conflict. If this mindset is overcome, then the world will certainly travel to peace -- which, in other words, means a rules-based world order.
We have often said, in different words and different ways, that most world leaders do not seem to believe in peace as a process and condition and destination. They are loyal to their respective agendas in which rules-based world order is never a bullet-point. Their agendas differ in contents, all right, but most of the points on their work-sheets seem to occupy opposite ends of the spectrum. Hence the world is full of tension -- almost without reason.
But how can one really say that there are no reasons for the simmering conflict? For, when agendas are real, how can conflict -- or its shadow -- be unreal? Yet, those who think calmly and try to travel beyond smaller goals do come to the conclusion that international conflict can be actually avoidable. But stakes are too high to do that, the world leaders seem to say. At the ongoing G-20 summit, however, Mr. Modi’s message held ground as no leader had any alternative to suggest. So, the official resolution reflected those powerful and almost algorithmic words -- in effect, that today’s era is not of war.
By its own standard, the world did move ahead with the resolution. Yet, disturbing questions still hover over its applicability, its actual utility, and also the world’s ability to stick to the spirit of the resolution and have it implemented in lesser or greater measure. And, frankly, that is so because the world stage is full of people with dishonest -- or even sly -- agendas. That has been the bane of the United Nations as well, or any other similar forum in whatever domain that even includes climate conclaves. If the collective global leadership is dominated by such personages, then a rules-based world order in which every nation -- small or big, advanced or backward -- gets respect it deserves, will never come about. The G-20 summit highlights this all the more pronouncedly.
The Russia-Ukraine conflict has bared most of these faultlines in the global order. India played a major role in exposing those faultlines in the most candid manner by standing firm on its agenda of self-interest and cleverly exposing almost every other country that followed complex patterns of paradoxical interests. It was in that process that Minister of External Affairs Dr. S. Jaishankar happened to say clearly to the whole of Europe that the quantity of Russian oil India consumes in a month is polished off by Europe in one afternoon.
The Russia-Ukraine conflict also exposed the futility of a war without end. In other words, the conflict now almost sounds and look purposeless, so to say. For, Russia appears to be involved in the conflict which it does not know how and when and where to end. Ukraine, for its part, is certainly fighting to keep its independence from Russian hegemony. But the overall impression about the conflict is that it could be described as one of the most directionless frictions in recent times.
All these issues seemed to weigh heavy on the minds of the world leaders at G-20 summit. It was only natural, therefore, that Mr. Narendra Modi’s assertion of the current era as ‘not of war’ dominated discourse. It showed two things: One, Prime Minister Mr. Modi’s dominance in global diplomacy because of his thoughtful leadership; and two, absence of a clear idea of what they want in the case of most other leaders. The Indian dominance will certainly invite some international ire -- as countries like China would hate to give India any importance. Nonetheless, Mr. Modi has shown the world that he is a man with ‘the’ message.