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Make in India, Operation Ganga, Yoga: India using G20 presidency for brand building

By IMPRI Team 

A three-day online certificate training course on India’s G20 Presidency and Contours of Indian Foreign Policy was organized by #IMPRI Centre for International Relation and Strategic Studies (CIRSS), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi on 14th, 15th, and 16th March 2023. Inaugurating the session Mr Aashwash Mahanta, a researcher at IMPRI, welcomed the speakers and participants to the program with an introduction to the eminent panellists. 
Dr Simi Mehta, CEO and Editorial Director, IMPRI, commenced the program by stating that the country is passing through tough times. However, India always has had an autonomous foreign policy and aims to develop friendly relations with other counties and nurture them. Dr Mehta then set the stage for the sessions to unfold.

Day 1

The first day started with a brief introduction of the panellists, which included Dr Parama Sinhapalit, Adjunct Senior Fellow, Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore; Prof Annpurna Nautiyal, Vice-Chancellor, Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal University, Srinagar, Uttaranchal; and Mr Don McLain Gill, Geopolitical Analyst and Author, The Philippines.
Dr Parama Sinhapalit gave a presentation on India’s Digital Public Diplomacy and Global Brand-Building, which covered topics of public diplomacy and two videos to highlight India’s communication with world audiences on social media platforms. It primarily focuses on brand-building activities on how India uses the G20 presidency to build its brand. Talking about public diplomacy she defines it as government engagement with the foreign public to influence them in India’s national interest. She also makes us aware of how social media is used by the government to build brands and communicate with the people as it becomes a two-way interaction during political processes and campaigns. It also provides a large platform for everyone who wants to join any ongoing debates and discussions.
On the other hand brand building by a country helps them to attract foreign investments, expand exports and bind with the diaspora by providing an emotional dimension to it. So nation branding has become a national platform and managing relationships has gradually emerged as a central paradigm. Dr Sinhapalit also demonstrated how India is communicating its brand through the Make in India campaign, Operation Ganga, promoting cultural practices like Yoga in the world and digital delivery of public services and marketing millets in Barbados helps India to build its brand.
Prof Annpurna Nautiyal based her talk on the core of the G20 Summit which is defined by Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam i.e. one earth, one family, one future. Heal earth, create harmony among families and hope for the future. In the contours of India’s G20 s presidency along with political, military and economic security, she also added health security which has made the globe a global village to a google village. She believes that the power of innovation and invention will define us in this era of conflict. Prof Nautiyal says that the power will also rest with the ability of a country’s innovation which is faster and better and will define the character of the great power competition. She said that India can achieve all this through democracy, diplomacy and dialogue and these can be used without using power.
Mr Don McLain Gill presented a presentation on understanding the evolution of India’s foreign policy towards Southeast Asia. He divided the era into 5 stages: the Cold War Era (1947-1991), the Down of the Look East Policy (1991-2001), the Post 9/11 Era (2001-2014), the Establishment of Act East (2014-2018), the Rise of Indo-Pacific Construct (2018) and explained these accordingly. He said that the manner in which India built its relations with the East member countries is a perfect example of how the North should build up ties with the southern countries. Mr Don also suggested some measures to improve the relationship which include resolving issues in regional economic cooperation and by improving its political will to lead the region considering its preoccupation towards its immediate neighbourhood.

Day 2

The second session of the event included eminent panellists like Ambassador Shashank (IFS, Retd.), Former Foreign Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, India; Ms Nandita Baruah Country Representative-India, The Asia Foundation; and Captain Alok Bansal-Director, Centre for Security & Strategy, India Foundation. Ambassador Shashank (IFS, Retd.) told us about the diplomatic experiences which can be useful for a G20 perspective analysis. He explained how diplomatic relations have evolved over a period of time in the world and how India took hold of its interests while considering other nations’ interests.
He said that the G20 summit is taking place in the context of European crises and the Ukrain-Russian war. The G20 summit will also look into the dimension of economic crises in different parts of the world as this will play a huge role in it and India will have to come up with measures to tackle it. He said that India will have an opportunity on both sides ie., to show its acceptability to the wider world as a leader of the world in the future as well as the leader of the developing world of the southern nations at present. On the other hand, presenting an example within India as well. He then tells us about the challenges that India will face during hosting the summit and how they can be overcome.
Ms Nandita Baruah spoke on the role of Feminist Foreign Policy in India’s G20 presidency. She also laid emphasis on how the world has gained from the women’s movement and said that equitable growth and a shared future on the globe should be a driving force in India’s G20 presidency summit. She also enlightened the participants about the issues that need to be considered, discussed and pondered upon during the summit hosting. This majorly includes health issues in the world and within India itself. She highlighted the need for a common vision of issues, on access rights inquiry, on issues of marginalised communities and people on issues relating to equitable sharing between the development. Ms Baruah also laid stress on the issue of marginalisation, its causes and how we can deal with it.
Captain Alok Bansal discussed India’s Security Challenges in Changing World Order. Broadly he highlighted three points which are the recent developments in the world which will impact India’s security challenges: first, the People’s Republic of China managed to negotiate a deal between Saudi Arabia and Iran. On the other hand, Xi Jinping is also planning to visit Russia and have a virtual meeting with the Ukraine president and will try to make peace between these nations by ending an ongoing war between them; second, the Russian-Ukrain conflict.; and third, India’s neighbourhood especially in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He talked in detail about how these issues currently need India’s attention and how they will change the security policies in the near future.

Day 3

The third day of the session includes Ambassador Anil Trigunayat, Former Indian Ambassador to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, Libya and Malta; Prof Sanjukta Bhattacharya, Retired Professor, International Relations, Jadavpur University, Kolkata; and Prof Sanjay Chaturvedi, Professor & Chairperson (IR), Department of International Relations, South Asian University. Starting with the session, Mr Aashwash Mahanta welcomed the speakers and participants to the programme with an introduction to eminent panellists.
Ambassador Anil Trigunayat told us how the world has emerged from its geopolitics from the cold war era to today’s new era. He briefed us on how the Russia-Ukraine conflict is impacting the world order. According to Trigunayat, the whole world is always impacted by 3-F crises i.e Fertilisers, Fuel and Food but in the 21st Century after the pandemic occurred we really need to focus on 4-H i.e Hunger, Habitat, High technology and Health. He said that India’s foreign policy is driven by its own national interests and addressed the importance of incorporating the concept of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam in its policymaking. He also highlighted the importance of India’s policies in the world and how they can have a direct and indirect impact on all foreign countries.
Prof Sanjukta Bhattacharya started her presentation by giving a brief outline of how and why the G20 idea was conceived, what was the idea behind its conception and how it was implemented. She also provided some data on some of the steps that were taken during various G20 summits. She also added the importance of the G20 presidency in the upcoming general elections of 2024 which will help India to connect with international audiences as well. In the presentation, it also mentioned what will be India’s priorities during the G20 presidency so that it can again become a voice for the global south. Lastly, she presented her views on the G20 presidency and what will be its major outcomes.
Prof Sanjay Chaturvedi threw some light on the new frontier of Indian foreign policy. He referred to the Oxford Handbook of Indian Foreign Policy by Oxford and FIIA Report- Great Power Competition And The Rising Indo- China Rivalry by Bart Gaens and Ville Sinkkonen and chalked out some crucial points in it. He presented his views that the G20 presidency should have a major focus on ecological sustainability, the growing frequency and intensity of natural disasters and the complexity of climate change.
Many other books were also referred to during this insightful session which includes The Indian Way- Strategies For An Uncertain World by S. Jaishankar; How Shyam Saran India Sees Kautilya to the World 21st Century. He then shared various climate reports which are affecting the world on a deadly basis and tries to convey that major attention is needed by world leaders to overcome them for future generations. The talk mainly centred around Anthropocene Security by pluralisation and politicising knowledge of anthropocene and its insecurity on the agenda of South Asian international relations by broadening and deepening the meaning of climate change.
Every lecture was followed by an interactive question and answer session which facilitated a more nuanced understanding of the topics covered and cultivated a critical understanding among the participants about the huge role that India will play by hosting the G20 summit this year. Closing the third-day session, Simi Mehta thanked the panel members for their insightful sessions and the program ended with a vote of thanks given by Aashwas Mahanta, IMPRI.
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Acknowledgement: Disha Sirohi, a researcher at IMPRI

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