Prime Minister Boris Johnson has invited his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi for the G7 summit as he confirmed details on Sunday for the high-level meeting to be presided over by Britain in the coastal region of Cornwall between June 11 and 13. Johnson had extended an invitation to Modi during a phone call last year when India was chosen alongside South Korea and Australia as guest countries of the multilateral summit. The invitation was made formal on Sunday. Johnson also reiterated his plan to visit India ahead of the G7 summit, after a scheduled visit for Republic Day this month was called off due to the coronavirus crisis. The Group of Seven or G7 – which is made up of the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the US – is dubbed as an open forum where the world’s most influential and open societies are brought together for close-knit discussions, with the pandemic likely to dominate this year’s talks. In this edition of the Big Picture we will analyse the G7 and India.
Edited Excerpts from the Debate
What is the importance of India to Britain?
India is very important for Britain due to:
Pharmacy of the world (India already supplies more than 50% of the world’s vaccines, and the UK and India have worked closely together throughout the pandemic)
India’s soft power
Tilt towards Indo-Pacific
Major partner for trade and investment
What is the significance of G7?
Adding weightage to the profile: The participation and eventual inclusion of Australia, South Korea, Russia (not favoured by the UK) and India could certainly add more weight to the grouping's profile.
Strategic interests: Diplomatically, a seat at the high table could help New Delhi further its security and foreign policy interests, especially at the nuclear club and UN Security Council reform as well as protecting its interests in the Indian Ocean.
What’s the idea of D-10?
The United Kingdom is seekingto form a new alliance of 10 5G countries, dubbed as ‘D10’, to align against China and reduce its reliance on Beijing.
G7 plus India, Australia and South Korea is seen as a gathering of D-10 — 10 leaders who represent over 60% of people living in democracies around the world.
Increasing concerns over China
Britain's relationship with China has slid to its most confrontational levels in a generation, chiefly because of the national security law Beijing has imposed in Hong Kong and London's decision to ban 5G network services by Huawei Technologies, which it contends is closely linked to the Chinese government.
Increasing concerns over China's assertive moves in the Indo-Pacific have also resulted in greater diplomatic efforts in the region by the US, Britain and the European Union - with India, Australia and the 10-nation Asean group at the forefront of their focus.
The best way forward is to take this forward in a pragmatic way rather than in an ideological or evangelical way. India does not have to go too hard on the D-10 as it might lead to leaving out some other countries that are not formal democracies. India’s interest lies in forming a broad coalition that takes care of the rise of China.
What is the G7?
The G7 (or Group of Seven) is an organisation made up of the world's seven largest so-called advanced economies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Together, the G7 countries represent 40% of global GDP and 10% of the world’s population.
It was for a while, known as the G8 as it also included Russia, but after their 2014 annexation of Crimea, they were booted out of the summit, reducing it to the G7.
The group regards itself as "a community of values", with freedom and human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and prosperity and sustainable development as its key principles.
The concept of a yearly forum for the world’s major industrialised countries emerged before 1973.
However, its progress accelerated after the 1973 oil crisis, where the US convened an informal gathering of finance ministers from West Germany, France and the United Kingdom ahead of a proper gathering.
G5: It later expanded to involve Japan to become the G5.
G6: Two years later in 1975, it included Italy, becoming the G6
G7: Canada joined in 1976 to create the G7.
G8: In 1998, years after the end of the Cold War, Russia was invited for the first time, marking a major turning point in world relations.
This ended in 2014 after Russia annexed Crimea with the group returning to its previous G7 lineup.
G-7 and G-20
The G-20 is a larger group of countries, which also includes G7 members.
The G-20 was formed in 1999, in response to a felt need to bring more countries on board to address global economic concerns.
Apart from the G-7 countries, the G-20 comprises Argentina, Australia, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, and
Together, the G-20 countries make up around 80% of the world’s economy.
As opposed to the G-7, which discusses a broad range of issues, deliberations at the G-20 are confined to those concerning the global economy and financial markets. India is slated to host a G-20 summit in 2022.
How the G-7 summit works?
Annual Summits: The G-7 nations meet at annual summits that are presided over by leaders of member countries on a rotational basis.
Discussion on global issues: The summit is an informal gathering that lasts two days, in which leaders of member countries discuss a wide range of global issues.
Invited dignitaries outside the group: The host country typically gets to invite dignitaries from outside the G-7 to attend the Summit.
The groundwork for the summit, including matters to be discussed and follow-up meetings, is done by the “sherpas”, who are generally personal representatives or members of diplomatic staff such as ambassadors.
The sherpa for Prime Minister Modi at last year’s summit was former Union Minister Suresh Prabhu.
Successive presence at the Summit
As for India, this could be its second successive presence at the Summit as a special invitee.
Modi had attended the Summit hosted by France as President Emmanuel Macron's special guest.
PM Modi’s predecessor Manmohan Singh had attendedthe G7 Summits (then G8) five times — in 2005 (UK), 2006 (Russia), 2007 (Germany), 2008 (Japan) and 2009 (Italy).