India’s G20 presidency is one of a kind event to display Indian-ness that underpins peace, harmony, and development for all as the cornerstone of its state behaviour on the global stage. India’s worldview rests on the bedrock of its unique civilisational ethos and values, placing a premium on the social and spiritual life of its ordinary citizens. India’s struggle for freedom was itself civilisational and spiritual, with thinkers like Swami Vivekananda, Maharishi Aurobindo, and Gurudeva Rabindranath Tagore as its proponents. As an aspirational nation, India accepts all religions as true and commits itself to the cultural dialogues enshrined in its Constitution and social life. In the words of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, “India’s diversity, which others once thought was a burden to India, is proving to be a priceless power of India. A strong testimony of its power.’’[i]
Globalisation: A Historic Overview
Globalization is commonly thought of as a new phenomenon, but contact between diverse individuals is not new. It began when prehistoric tribes from different parts of the world settled down into food production. According to most scholars and researchers, it is the modern age which led to the origin of globalization. In this age, wide spread development took place in the field of infrastructure and connectivity. This led to more interaction between the nations and sharing of ideas, culture and tradition took place. All these put a direct impact on the process of globalization. In the economic scenario, more trade links started taking place between countries on a global scale which influenced global as well as domestic economies to a great extent. However, there are some scholars who point out that the origins of the history of globalization can be traced back to the ancient civilizations. Scholars who advocate this theory say that the example of the earliest forms of globalization is the trade links between the Sumerian civilization and the Indus Valley Civilization in third millennium B.C. In fact, after this age, there are numerous instances where trade links were established between various countries like India, Egypt, Greece, and Roman Empire and so on.[ii]
The medieval period was the age of discovery. It was in this period that Africa and Eurasia engaged in cultural and economic exchange between them. Gradually, this led to the growth of colonies in various parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America. As a result, there was a constant blend of the ideas, languages, rituals and customs between the natives and the foreign inhabitants.
The premodern period saw technological advances that allowed trade and communication to flourish. The early modern period saw the birth of capitalism and interregional markets. The industrial revolution in the 19th century was one of the major periods in the history of globalization. Due to the industrial revolution, there was a significant increase in the quantity and quality of the products. This led to higher exports and better trade and business relations.
Globalization, in the modern sense of the term, came into existence after the Second World War. One of the main factors for this was the plan by the world leaders to break down the borders for fostering trade relations between nations. It was also in this period that major countries like India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and some countries in South America gained independence. As a result, these countries too started having their own economic systems and established trade relations with the rest of the world. The establishment of the United Nations Organization (UNO) was also a major step in this regard.[iii]
Globalisation in the Modern Context
Globalization has been defined as the process of rapid integration of countries and happenings through greater foreign trade and foreign investment. It describes a process by which regional economies, societies, and cultures have become integrated through a global network of communication, transportation, and trade. The term is sometimes used to refer specifically to economic globalization: the integration of national economies into the international economy through trade, foreign direct investment, capital flows, migration, and the spread of technology. Globalization encompasses the causes, courses, and consequences of transnational and transcultural integration of human and non-human activities. India had the distinction of being the world’s largest economy till the end of the 17th century, as it accounted for about 32.9% share of world GDP and about 17% of the world population. The goods produced in India had long been exported to far off destinations across the world; thus the concept of globalization is hardly new to India.[iv]
Globalisation and interconnectedness are interchangeable terms. Due to globalisation, the world has become one global village. India is one of the oldest civilisations with one of the youngest populations and perhaps the most diverse and vibrant democracy. More than 50% of India’s current population is below the age of 25 years and over 65% is below the age of 35. Even as global populations continue to age, our younger demographic profile can be an asset not just domestically but in the larger global context and India’s G20 Presidency offers India’s youth the coveted opportunity to become ambassadors of global causes.
G20 provides an ideal platform
One of the engagement groups of the G20 is the Y20 or Youth 20 where the power of the youth will be harnessed to script a global consensus on issues that confronts humanity. The themes of the Y20 India include Future of Work: Industry 4.0, Climate Change & making sustainability a way of life; Peacebuilding and Reconciliation: Ushering in an era of No War and Shared Future: Youth in Democracy, Governance and Health, Wellbeing & Sports.
Until 2014 India had a mere 720 start-ups but under Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s leadership, India has now emerged as the third-largest ecosystem of start-ups with more than 84,400 start-ups spread across 656 districts. In 2014 India had merely 4 unicorns & by 2021 this rose to a whopping 53. Estimates and reports suggest this number will rise to 250 by 2025. Apart from the conducive, pro-ease of doing business ecosystem and policy environment that is being created by the Modi government. it is also the push towards innovation, digitalisation and use of automation & technology that is fuelling this. Young entrepreneurs in India who have delivered creative solutions for global problems & have created a successful business model out of it can play a vital role shaping the fourth Industrial Revolution & also replicate, customise their successful business models not just from the perspective of gaining market share but also to share the fruits of prosperity and growth, especially with developing nations. Both G20 & Y20 will be ideal platforms to showcase their business models and expand into new territories.[v]
The Y20 Summit is a unique opportunity to allow the youth to provide constructive policy inputs and to utilize the platform to voice their opinions for the world audience. It brings together the trustees of our future generations from across the G20 countries to deliberate, discuss and deduce innovative, sustainable, and actionable solutions, especially in the realm of social development. It is an opportune moment for us to showcase our tradition of ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ (a guest is akin to God).
Effects of Globalization on Indian Society
Globalization encompasses many domains, including the political, cultural, social, and economic spheres; however, economic integration is one of the most typical manifestations of globalisation. India’s economy is currently one of the most rapidly expanding in the world, and analysts believe that it will break into the top three in the next ten years.
Globalization, which didn’t really take off until the 1990s but brought about a sea change in economic dynamics, is largely responsible for India’s massive economic growth in recent decades. Since that time, the level of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) has increased at a rate that is exponential. The elimination of trade barriers and subsidies for exports made it possible for free trade, which increased the allure of the Indian market to members of the international community. The unrealized potential of the emerging Indian market was opened up to the international market, and the country’s industrial, financial, and agricultural sectors underwent significant transformations as a result. Because of India’s increasing integration into the global economy, foreign businesses that want to invest and do business within the enormous Indian market now have access to India’s domestic markets. The number of employment opportunities has increased. In the beginning, globalisation provided foreigners with access to a robust labour force that was also relatively inexpensive. But as time has gone on, there has been an increase in both the level of education and level of expertise among the working population. Currently, India has the largest diaspora population that is located in other countries.
India provides a well-diversified export basket, which is attractive to international investors who are thinking about the economy as a whole. This point was also brought up in India’s Economic Survey, which was published recently. The rate of literacy in India has increased as a direct result of globalisation, one of the many profound effects that have been observed in the educational sector as a direct result of globalisation. Now more than ever, international universities are working together with various Indian universities to broaden the opportunities available to Indian students.
The educational system in India has embraced globalisation through the use of information technology, which provides opportunities for the development of new paradigm shifts in educational development. The transition from a society that is largely uneducated to one that is industrial to one that is an information society has been taking shape gradually.
The future of the world economy and humanity rests in the hands of Gen Z, today’s youth are born into a digital, globalized and constantly evolving world filled with uncertainty, immense pace, potential, and limitless possibilities! Young people are stakeholders in the present and builders of tomorrow. We have progressed across sectors with the spirit of Atma Nirbhar Bharat and Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat. There is a start-up revolution in the country. It is important to remember that the Youth will inherit the future they build”.
Being the torch-bearers of our rich heritage, students and young people are indeed India’s cultural ambassadors. As people from different parts of the world visit Indian states, the youth must spearhead initiatives to showcase the rich cultural mosaic and various developments of their respective states. These exchanges and interactions with international delegates will lay the foundation of a long-term and symbiotic interconnectedness among the young people of all G20 countries.[vi]
India’s worldview is deeply embedded in its ancient dharmic tradition and reflects the re-emergence of spiritual nationalism lying dormant, as a result of multiple foreign invasions. In contemporary times, India’s civilisational heritage is a matter of pride and national belongingness for its people across the spectrum of generational, cultural, religious, and linguistic diversity. A deep understanding of India’s worldview requires an unprejudiced appraisal of its historical memory and civilisational ethos.[vii]
At the Y20 Summit, India will not only speak; but also provide an audience to youth from across the world, to be heard in the world’s largest democracy amongst those young leaders geared up with the baton to the future.” In the words of Union Minister Shri Anurag Singh Thakur-
“This summit provides an excellent opportunity for the youth and the world alike to shape the way we evolve. I hope you will use the Y20 opportunity to also educate us and own the responsibility of ensuring that the declaration you finally present to the G20 Leaders is one that fulfills the hopes and dreams of all the youth – rural and urban, in the developed and developing world. The Youth 20 is a brilliant way to amplify the voices of young people. The world will be listening to you very carefully.’’[viii]
Under India’s G20 Presidency, Y20 shall provide a platform to the youth for discussion and debate on global challenges.
The G20 Presidency has come to India during the ‘Amritkal’ or 75 years of our Independence. It is also a year where we remember and celebrate our freedom fighters – from Mahatma Gandhi to Sardar Patel, from Bhagwan Birsa Munda to Bhagat Singh. Their crusade for justice and their fight against oppression against imperialist, colonial mindset can inspire the entire world provided we become the vectors and agents of their message and proudly repeat them with clarity. The G-20 shall open up a plethora of avenues for every state and especially its youth to participate and amplify the diverse but inclusive and unifying message of Bharat to the world- Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (The whole world is one family). There shall also be a host of cultural programs and exchanges, opportunities of tourism, discussion forums. With the tools of social media and creativity the youth can also, in real time, document and amplify the message and learnings that come out from such exchanges.
The Y20 India Summit in 2023 would exemplify India’s youth-centric efforts and provide an opportunity to showcase its values and policy measures so that India’s leadership of this summit can stand out among the youth cohort. The themes selected for the summit will showcase Indian leadership on these issues to both global and domestic audiences and help fulfil India’s vision of making the G20 summit truly participative in nature.[x]
India’s G20 presidency is a celebration of its culture and social philosophy. The Indian worldview is relevant in an increasingly tense global environment where outdated practices fail to respond to the challenges of a fragmented world order. From advocating for peace to being the voice of the Global South, India is a natural leading superpower in a world crippled with US-China rivalry and power blocs.
[ii] Andre Gunder Frank, “Reorient: Global economy in the Asian age” U.C. Berkeley Press, 1998
[iv] Joshi, Rakesh Mohan, (2009) International Business, Oxford University Press, New Delhi and New York
Biresh Chaudhuri is a Research Associate with Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation. Views expressed are personal.