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Digitisation: At G20 only 'good' things get articulated, not privacy, exclusion, fraud

Note on book release event on 'India and the G20: Legacy & Prospects for Multilateralism amidst a Polycrisis' at the India Islamic Cultural Centre, New Delhi:

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India’s G20 Presidency is occurring at a crucial moment in the history of the world economy; as such it is important to ask what India’s role would be sitting on this high table. The book India and the G20: Legacy & Prospects for Multilateralism amidst a Polycrisis (Yoda Press) edited by Sonal Raghuvanshi, was launched by Prof. Prabhat Patnaik (Former Professor of Economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University), Dr. Usha Ramanathan (Senior Lawyer and Activist), and Siddharth Varadrajan (Founding Editor, The Wire) at an event at the India Islamic Cultural Centre, New Delhi.
The book digs in different perspectives on G20 and beyond, including topics such as climate crisis and G20 emissions reductions, G20 and social security in the times of rising inequalities, exploring the migration policies and dependency patterns among G20 nations and many more.
The foreword and afterword in the book are presented by Prabhat Patnaik and Patrick Bond, respectively and bring together a diverse set of voices from various disciplines to provide a much-needed grounded analysis of the G20 framework, its policies and processes.
“This book on G20 is an important intervention, especially when the G20 is being made into a vehicle of propaganda and a particular narrative defined by the government,” said Siddharth Varadrajan. He further said, “We are in a position where the G20 presidencies till date are following and advocating for policies that were advised against in the Pittsburgh Summit advised against. These are typically policies which are benefiting a few corporates, accentuating inequality. And we are to do this, can we call ourselves representatives of the global south?”
“We thought that India’s presidency, and for that matter, the presidency coming to the third world nations will be a time of reckoning, but look at where we are. When we think of G20, it has, for a long time, moved away from its objective embedded in its rhetoric. This book is an attempt to uncover this club governance format, and bring analysis of various themes and ultimately demand for the reform of International Financial Architecture” said Sonal Raghuvanshi.
Prabhat Patnaik explained that among the issues facing several poor countries is the external debt burden. The developed countries have pushed for austerity measures, as well as theoretically misleading claims such as that the advanced countries have 'sacrificed' their income to provide loans to third world countries. He further said, that, “Even if the developing countries default on loans, it is not that advanced countries suffer owing to that. There are ways to accommodate such defaults and India can suggest such measures as the presidency of G20. He further suggested that India can push for setting up a commission to recommend ways to address third world debt, such as converting loans to grants. He said, “If the surplus countries are made to adjust their accounts to liquidate surpluses, then countries in deficits can benefit from it. There won't be a problem of lingering debt”, he said.
Sonal Raghuvanshi further added that “in the short run, it is important to relieve external debt stress in the poor countries and restore a semblance of balance of payment stability, so that these countries can return to growth and the pursuits of SDGs. This should involve not just rescheduling of past debt but also inflows of new capital to these countries. And this agenda should not be made contingent on the adoption of measure emphasizing austerity that deprive these countries of the needed policy and fiscal space.”
Usha Ramanathan said, “Digital public goods and digital infrastructures are being pushed by IMF & World Bank in middle & low income countries. At G20 it is being said that for implementation of SDGs digitization is needed. India is often quoted as a successful experiment in mass coverage through digitization which should be emulated in other countries. However, this is far from the truth. At G20 only the 'good' things get articulated while ignoring the issues of privacy, exclusion and fraud which digitization has engendered as a fallout”.

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