Gandhiji was a lifelong advocate of trusteeship of the resources for serving the people. Interestingly, in the closing session of the G-20 Summit, PM Modi’s remarks seem to flag the same idea.

Mahatma Gandhi exhorted everyone to respect nature and show gratitude for her bounty and protect and preserve her as it belonged to all. His famous line: “nature has enough for our needs but not for greed” is often quoted by environmentalists and cited in climate change documents, but regrettably, never acted upon. If world leaders had embraced the spirit of the Mahatma’s message, it won’t be still debating and discussing the principles of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR), first enunciated at United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
He also talked of wiping away tears from the cheek of the poor; a dream which still remains unfulfilled. Unveiling the logo of G-20 on 8 November, Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressed his optimism: “Even if the world is in deep crisis, we can still progress and make the world a better place.” How? With “shared knowledge that helps us overcome our circumstances and shared prosperity that reaches the last person at the last mile.” The last sentence reflects Gandhi’s appeal to serve the poor.
Gandhiji was a lifelong advocate of the trusteeship for the resources for serving the people. Interestingly, in the closing session of the G-20 Summit, PM Modi’s remarks seem to flag the same idea, “The sense of ownership over natural resources is giving rise to conflict today, and has become the main cause of the plight of the environment. For the safe future of the planet, a sense of trusteeship is the solution.”
In pursuit of the next G-20 Summit’s theme: One Earth, One Family, One Future, PM Modi assures that “India’s G-20 presidency will be inclusive, ambitious, decisive and action-oriented.” He adds, “G-20 will act as a global prime mover to envision new ideas and accelerate collective action.” In this regard, he stressed, “Global development is not possible without women’s participation.” A closer look at the PM’s emphasis on inclusiveness, trusteeship, compassion, solidarity, participation of women, collective action and envisioning a campaign for life (lifestyle for environment) seems to converge on his all embracing strategy of sabka sath sabka vikas…chalein saath saath. Contrary to public perception, this approach is not relevant not only for addressing domestic issues; it can be equally effective and productive in addressing global issues and promoting peace and harmony in the world. Unfortunately, not many nations in the world pursue this inspiring thought in letter and spirit while addressing the global commons.
Notwithstanding serious reservations of some members about condemning Russia for invading Ukraine, the G-20 Communiqué did mention the condemnation by most members, if not all. It’s an evolution of their stand; four members of G-20 which form the Quad had refrained from using the word “condemn” in the joint statement of their summit in Tokyo in 22 May. The G-20 Communiqué echoes PM Modi’s widely hailed view: this is not an era of war, conveyed to President Putin on the sidelines of the SCO Summit in Samarkand on 16 September.
It augurs well for India that within days of receiving the baton of the Presidency of the G-20 from Indonesia, at the conclusion of COP-27 at Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, for the first time, the developed nations have grudgingly agreed for the creation of a “Loss and Damage Fund” to help the most vulnerable nations to fight the ravages of climate change. One should remain cautiously optimistic that the funds promised will flow in, though the past record of the developed countries in this regard has been disappointing and procedure for disbursement won’t be too cumbersome. Though China and India have escaped inclusion in the list of the contributors for now, pressure from the developed countries will persist.
India argued forcefully that for limiting global warming phasing down and eventual phasing out of fossil fuel it should include not only coal but all fossil fuels including oil and gas. India received the support of 80 countries including the US and the EU, but there was no mention in the communiqué thanks to strong opposition from Russia and Saudi Arabia. However, this idea might elicit more acceptances in future,
Indian PM stressed a known fact, “Without peace and security, our future generations will not be able to take advantage of economic growth or technological innovation.” Maintaining peace and security is the prime responsibility of the UN; regrettably, it has failed miserably. Can G-20 succeed where the UN has failed? When issues involve major powers, the UN is reduced to a helpless bystander. Neither the US nor Russia bothered about the UN when they invaded respectively Iraq and Ukraine.
“At a time when the world is simultaneously grappling with geopolitical tensions, economic slowdown, rising food and energy prices, and long term ill effects of the pandemic”, PM Modi feels that it “is looking at the G-20 with hope.”
While India could hardly be expected to usher in an era of peace, security, harmony and prosperity and end raging conflicts in various parts of the world by herself, with over 1.3 billion phone subscribers, extensive digitations of services particularly in health and banking sectors and governance, a burgeoning hub of startups, extensive skilling facilities, increasing thrust on R&D and innovation, $3 trillion economy performing better than major economies and willingness to help, as was evident during the Covid pandemic, ambitious youth bursting with aspirations, the G-20 under India’s presidency can deliver on many fronts and make a huge difference, though it’s a divided house pulled in different directions, and many challenges demand global commitment and cooperation.
Remember Steve Jobs’ words, “We are here to put a dent in the universe.”

Surendra Kumar is a former Ambassador of India.