G7 Summit Presents a Template for Indian Engagement With the West

Synopsis:

The recent meeting of G7 countries was attended by India as a guest country. The meeting provided a template for Indian engagement with the West based on shared democratic values and mutual cooperation.

Background:
  • The recent summit of G7 countries took place in Cornwall, England from 11-13th June 2021. India, Australia, South Korea, and South Africa were invited as guest countries for the Summit.
  • A joint statement on Open Societies was adopted. The statement reaffirms and encourages the values of freedom of expression, both online and offline. 
    • It recognizes freedom as a virtue for safeguarding democracy and allowing people to live free from fear and oppression. 
Significance of the summit:
  • Indian Participation shows it is a natural ally of the G-7 and its partners. Further, laying emphasis on shared democratic values that bind India with the West shows a greater willingness to cooperate with India.
  • The summit can be seen as the beginning of institutionalization of India’s cooperation with the West.
  • The joint statement on open societies shows a willingness to construct an alliance of democratic countries. This can be leveraged as a common platform to counter China’s assertiveness over India and the western countries.
  • It also shows the revived importance of the grouping in comparison to the G20. The revival has been on account of China’s rise in the global economic order and rising U.S-China and U.S-Russia rivalry.

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Relations between India and West:
  • India and U.S: The relations were not very conducive during the Cold War. The 1998 nuclear test saw the imposition of sanctions by the U.S over India.
    • However, prudent efforts have been made since 1998 to improve the relations based on the shared commitment to democratic values.
    • The Indian government supported the U.S’s initiative on building a global community of democracies. It later joined the Bush Administration in promoting a Global Democracy Fund at the UN.
    • The recent deterioration of US-China and Indo-China relations induced both countries to further improve their bilateral relations.
  • India and Europe: The improvement in Indo-U.S relations didn’t automatically compute into broader warmth towards the West. 
    • However, this position began to change in the last few years, as Delhi embarked on an expansive engagement with Europe.

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Way Forward:
  • The grouping can be used to reorient global supply chains and reduce dependency on Chinese products. It can be used to initiate a fresh inquiry into the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic in China.
  • India should participate in the grouping for ensuring a peaceful Indo-Pacific, mitigating climate change and prudently managing the Covid pandemic
  • Further, there is a need for sustained consultations based on democratic values between India and the West over new challenges posed by digital technologies. This includes radicalization, disinformation, electoral interference, cyberattacks, and the role of large social media companies.

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