Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation

Deciphering the Essence of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam in a Deeply Divided and Violence- Ridden World

The G20 presidency happens on a rotational basis every year. Each year, one of the member states of G20 is given the presidency to host and organise events in her nation. Yet the G20 events of 2023 are not like that of any other year. In 2023, under the presidency of India, G20 events are taking a whole new dimension in terms of the kind of expectations that not just the developing countries from Global South have from India to create a level playing field for the smaller states, but also among the major economic and military powerhouses of the word who are increasingly looking up to India to emerge as an arbiter and solution provider for many of the complex and profound challenges the world is grappling with. In a world marred by deep ideological divides and military face-offs, where credibility is fast becoming an extremely elusive commodity, India under the Prime Ministership of Narendra Modi has not just emerged as a ‘bright spot in a dark horizon’ for global economy but also as one which is trusted by states on extreme ends of ideological divides.

Why India Under PM Modi’s Leadership is Admired by the World…

From seeking India’s active participation in developing resilient supply chains, to sustaining global economic growth through its own growth momentum amidst tumultuous recessionary phases across Europe and US, from creating a viable and sustainable model to cater to aspirations of populace of developing countries, to taking innovative strides in the realm of renewable energy generation, from becoming voice of innumerable voiceless developing states of the world to ushering an era of inclusivity and peace in a deeply divided world, India under Prime Minister Modi has been like a breath of fresh air for a world mired in one crisis after another.

Ushering an Era of Inclusivity through Spreading the Philosophy of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam

On December 1, 2022 India officially assumed the presidency of G20. In early November, the logo and theme of G20 for 2023 under presidency of India was unveiled.  The theme of G20 has been set as Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam- One Earth. One Family. One Future.  A press release by Government of India on the same states,

The logo and the theme together convey a powerful message of India’s G20 Presidency, which is of striving for just and equitable growth for all in the world, as we navigate through these turbulent times, in a sustainable, holistic, responsible, and inclusive manner. They represent a uniquely Indian approach to our G20 Presidency, of living in harmony with the surrounding ecosystem.

The Critical Importance of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam in today’s era of a deeply divided world

It has to be remembered that Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam as a theme has not been kept just for the heck of it. In today’s context it denotes India’s stride to create a new narrative through which ideally the global multilateral organisations must set rules for the world and deal with pertinent challenges without any bias.

At the core of all the problems that plague the world today is the deep divide that exists between Global North and Global South, or between developing countries and developed countries. That deep divide is also sadly amplified by the sheer lack of empathy that has permeated among global institutions whose job it is to usher a peaceful world and make sure that conflicts do not happen.

Unfortunately, the global multilateral institutions that were created to usher an era of global peace in the aftermath of the Second World War, have failed to prevent conflicts. Since the end of Second World War, when it was hoped that a new era of global peace would prevail for centuries to come, that hope was dashed within a span of a mere few years as the world not just got divided between two extreme ideological blocks but also triggered an unfortunate arms race, followed by a series of wars that mostly were fought in third world countries, which sadly became theatres for major power blocks to settle their scores. Eventually it was the poor, impoverished and under developed countries that suffered the most. This happened because the powers that be considered ideological issues more pertinent than to have empathy for humanity as a whole. It was considered justified to wage wars for ideology’s sake even if it resulted in death of millions.

Even when Cold War ended with disintegration of Soviet Union, peace did not prevail for long and once again global institutions mandated to usher peace remained mute spectators as the world witnessed an unprecedented rise of violent non state actors with extremist ideologies, most of which, if not all, had some or the other kind of covert or overt support from deep states of certain nations. The world was besieged once again into a quagmire of spiralling violence that eventually resulted death of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians, pushed nations into civil war kind of situations and dangerously threatened the sovereignty of many countries. In between the whole of Middle East and North Africa saw one war after another, followed by wars in Iran, Syria, Libya and Yemen.

If all this was not enough, close of the heels of the world standing on its feet once again, after being ravaged by the devastating Covid pandemic, a cataclysmic war between Russia and Ukraine started last year, and which drove the many countries on the brink of financial collapse due to steep rise in prices of many essential commodities. No end of war is in sight and the possibility of the war spiralling out of control and have devastating spill-over effect beyond the boundaries of Ukraine, cannot be ruled out at all.

What India Aspires For: Creating an Era of Mutual Empathy in the World

Once again, at the core of above-mentioned problems have been the lack of mutual empathy. This is exactly what India has been trying to convey to the world that unless the world is looked upon as one family and unless there is empathy for people of all countries, the hope for long lasting peace would always be elusive. Problem starts with the concept of predisposed notions of who is right and who is wrong, and then a narrative is created, unfortunately often by powerful blocks, wherein unless one sides with their view of the world, that state would be considered a ‘rogue’ and ‘pariah’. This classification has to stop.

Also, there is the unfortunate saga of powerful military industrial complexes with deep pockets allegedly manipulating geopolitical situations farther their own agenda and boosting the war economy that benefits a select few at the cost of global peace. It is as if war has become a business of sort and for some, triggering a war has becoming the end objective for which disputes are germinated. This has been exacerbated by the silence and inaction of dysfunctional multilateral organisations whose job it was to prevent wars. Instead, they have been reduced to fence sitters who prefer to toe to the line taken by Global North.

Time for a More Inclusive World

The same is the case with global financial institutions where too Prime Minister Modi has been pitching for reforms and inclusivity with greater say from the developing countries. Unfortunately, global financial institutions have been slow to reforming themselves and have lacked the alacrity that was needed to help smaller and vulnerable economies among the developing world who were ravaged by the twin strikes of pandemic led economic meltdown and Russia-Ukraine war triggered steep rise on price of key commodities. Here too what lacks among the Global North controlled financial institutions have been empathy, something that India wants the whole world and especially the Global North led multilateral institutions to embrace before it is too late.

(Pathikrit Payne is a New Delhi based Geopolitical Analyst and Senior Research Fellow, SPMRF. Views expressed are his own)