The Indian Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi is invited to the G-7 meeting scheduled from June 26 to June 28, 2022, at Elmau, Germany. The agenda for the G-7 meeting includes climate change, economic stability, healthy lives, and democracy. In the context of the Russian-Ukraine conflict, the German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is keen to send a signal that democracies can share global responsibilities. Against this backdrop, it is interesting to watch what message Modi, the PM of the largest democracy on the planet, has to share with members of the G-7 forum and the international community.
On the Ukraine issue, the Modi administration stands polls apart from its G-7 member counterparts. Modi has asked for an immediate cessation of violence but desisted from overtly criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions. The other irritant is the Modi administration’s decision to increase oil imports from Russia to support the domestic economy. The western world is not happy with the growth in the Russian-Indian oil trade. They have tried to convince the Modi administration to reduce imports. Conspicuously, the Indian quantity of imported oil is much lesser in comparison to the European States.
Notably, United Nations General Assembly witnessed three resolutions regarding the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Governments that represent almost half of the world’s population have not supported the resolutions. India has also abstained during the voting process. The non-approval of these governments put a question mark on the Western thought process around the conflict. Moreover, it also raises questions about the Western model of democracy.
Interestingly, concerning democracy, the Modi administration is under the scanner. West-based scholars have alleged the deterioration of democratic values under the Modi administration. The administration has tried to counter the narrative. It is working to come up with an indigenous democracy index. Moreover, the Modi administration is trying to reach out to Western scholars to understand the methodology regarding existing democracy indices. Modi has explicitly linked the growth of democracy in India with the country’s ancient civilizational values like pluralism and debate. Here it is relevant to quote a Sanskrit verse, ‘Ekam sat vipra bahudha vadanti’ (truth is one; wise men express it differently). Modi and his predecessors have praised the equal validity of different paths of democratic governance. Under the Modi administration, the rhetoric about home-grown roots made the democracy more Indian. Dialogue and pluralism are a few shared values between West–led liberal democracy and the Indian democracy. The Vajpayee administration brought democracy into the Indian foreign policy calculus. From Vajpayee to the Modi administration have shown reticence in promoting democracy. They believe in sharing the democratic example of the country. Delhi distances itself from proselytizer tendencies. Therefore, it is different from Western liberal democracy.
Modi stressed that democracy has delivered for India. The Modi administration believes that open source-based tools help in securing financial inclusion and the democratization of technology-based services. The administration also linked it with defending democracy and freedom of thought. The UN has also praised the Modi administration’s digital efforts for financial inclusion. The Modi administration is helping Nepal to replicate the Indian model with suitable adjustments. It may boost the financial inclusion of the Himalayan State. Thus, with rhetoric and practice of democracy, the Modi administration is proposing an alternative model.
After Arab Spring and the rise of China, the Western liberal democratic model is under duress. With an impeccable record on digital democratization, Modi may like to ask for collaboration between Western liberal democracy and Indian democracy to establish rule-based international order. He may stress integrating local experience in propagating democratic values.
Besides, climate change is a cause of concern. On behalf of the G-7, Germany and the United States have proposed to financially support India. The proposal supports the Indian transition from a fossil fuel-based economy to a carbon-neutral economy. The funding for green technology will ameliorate the Indian energy situation and enhances trust between India and the Western world. India is keen to be resolve the climate issue. India may join hands with G-7 and accept the German-US proposal. Thus, the message from Modi will be about collaboration and shouldering global
Author: Aniket Bhavthankar is a Doctoral Researcher at University of Duisburg-Essen.
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