The Platform

Photo illustration by John Lyman

Aside from the fact that September in New Delhi can be uncomfortably hot and its air quality is terrible, rewarding India for bad behavior is a bad look for the G20.

The G20 summit is an exclusive forum that convenes the most influential leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies. This high-level meeting serves as a vital platform for international economic cooperation and development discussions. The annual gathering provides a unique opportunity for the leaders of these nations to engage in dialogue, exchange ideas, and deliberate on pressing global challenges. The summit remains a critical forum to foster international relations, promote global economic growth and stability, and pave the way for a more prosperous and sustainable future. However, the upcoming hosting of the G20 summit in New Delhi in September has been met with controversy and criticism.

One of the primary concerns about India hosting the summit is the country’s COVID situation. India has been severely affected by the pandemic, with over 44 million cases and 530,000 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Experts fear that hosting such a large-scale event could exacerbate the spread of the virus and put attendees at risk. India is still dealing with thousands of new COVID infections daily and it has been reported that many Indians have stopped taking COVID tests altogether. This also doesn’t account for the fact that infections and deaths are underreported.

The summit is expected to attract thousands of participants, including heads of state, ministers, diplomats, and journalists. It is a massive event that requires significant planning, preparation, and resources. The Indian government has already started preparations for the event, but concerns have been raised about the feasibility of hosting such a large gathering amidst the still ongoing pandemic. While the Indian government has taken measures to control the spread of the virus, like a vaccination campaign, there is no guarantee that the situation will be under control by September.

Another concern about India hosting the summit is the country’s human rights record. India has faced criticism for its treatment of minorities, including Muslims and Dalits. The government has been accused of suppressing dissent and cracking down on free speech. Human rights groups have raised concerns that hosting the summit could legitimize these actions and send the wrong message.

Another issue is the freedom of the press. The Indian government has also been accused of targeting journalists and activists who speak out against the government. In 2020, India was ranked 142 out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index, indicating a significant decline in press freedom. Hosting the summit could be seen as a validation of these actions and undermine efforts to promote human rights and democracy globally.

Another issue that has been raised about India hosting the summit is its environmental record. India is one of the largest greenhouse gas emitters in the world and has been criticized for not doing enough to address climate change. Hosting the summit could be seen as a tacit endorsement of India’s environmental policies, which could undermine efforts to address global climate change. The government has taken some steps to address environmental issues, such as launching the National Clean Air Programme and setting renewable energy targets. However, the country still relies heavily on coal, and there are concerns about the government’s commitment to addressing climate change.

Finally, India’s economic policies have also come under scrutiny. The country has been criticized for its protectionist trade policies, which some experts argue are detrimental to the global economy. Hosting the summit could be seen as a validation of these policies, which could further exacerbate trade tensions between countries. The government has defended its economic policies, arguing that they are necessary to protect domestic industries and promote economic growth. However, critics argue that protectionist policies harm consumers and limit the potential for international cooperation and development.

There are several reasons why some experts believe that the summit should not take place in India. These include concerns about India’s COVID situation, human rights record, and environmental and economic policies. While the government has taken some steps to address these issues, there are still significant concerns that need to be addressed before hosting a large-scale event like the summit. Human rights groups are urging world leaders to boycott the G20 summit.

It is important for the Indian government to consider these concerns and take steps to address them before the summit. This could include increasing vaccination rates, strengthening human rights protections, and implementing more ambitious environmental policies. It could also involve engaging with other G20 countries to address trade tensions and promote greater economic cooperation and development.

Muhammad Imran is a journalist based in Karachi. He has a Master's degree in Journalism from the University of Karachi, Pakistan.