BORGO EGNAZIA (ITALY): The Prime Minister basks in spotlight, bats for Global South amid Gaza, Ukraine crises.

With the world hailing the triumph of Indian democracy in the recently-held elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi basked in the global spotlight and batted vigorously for the Global South at the G7 summit dominated by poly-crisis, including the seething conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza.

In his first diplomatic outing after winning a consecutive third term, the 73-year-old Modi stood out at the G7 summit in Italy as a strong and much-admired world leader amid several lame-duck prime ministers and presidents.

AI & Africa

In less than twenty-four hours he spent in the ultra-luxe resort fringed by olive trees, Modi showed his trademark energy and diplomatic finesse as he met and networked with the leaders of nearly a dozen countries with his message of working in the spirit of global solidarity in a world polarized by crises and conflict. His credentials bolstered by a successful G20 presidency, Modi placed the interests of the Global South front and centre as he spoke eloquently about Artificial Intelligence, Africa, and the Mediterranean and green energy transition in the outreach session on June 14. Modi’s comments making AI human-centric echoed those of Pope Francis, who spoke at the summit on ethical and spiritual dimensions of AI. Modi argued that for “technology to be successful it had to be underpinned by a human-centric approach” and shared India’s success in leveraging digital technology for public service delivery. Underlining the focus of India’s Mission premised on “AI for All,” PM Modi stressed that this technology should be “aimed at fostering progress and well-being of all.” He emphasized that with this broader objective in mind, India was fostering international collaboration as a founding member of Global Partnership for AI.

Alluding to India’s 4A approach on energy transition, underpinned by “availability, accessibility, affordability and acceptability,” PM Modi assured that India was working towards achieving the target of NET ZERO by 2070. Referring to India’s Mission LiFE [Lifestyle for Environment], impressed upon the global community to join the tree plantation campaign launched by him on World Environment Day – “Plant4Mother” and make it a mass movement with personal touch and global responsibility.

The centrepiece of Modi’s remarks at the Outreach Session was focused on advancing the aspirations of the Global South and Africa at a forum dominated by the twin wars and crises which are ravaging the world.

$10 trillion Dream

With the overarching objective of making India a great power and 10-trillion-dollar economy by 2030, PM Modi held separate bilateral meetings with the leaders of G7 economies, including Italy, France, Britain and Japan. Boosting economic ties and attracting greater investment were cross-cutting themes at PM Modi’s interactions with the leaders of these countries. The meeting with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Maloni, the host of the G7 summit, underscored growing strategic and economic connect between India and Italy. Ms Meloni charmed Modi by greeting him with “Namaste,” followed by substantive discussions. Enhancing defence industrial collaboration and deepening strategic cooperation were key takeaways from this meeting.

PM Modi’s meeting with Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida focused on fast-tracking the targeted 5 trillion-yen worth of Japanese investment in India in 2022-2027 period, and India-Japan Industrial Competitiveness Partnership, aimed at making India a global manufacturing hub. Economic diplomacy also dominated PM Modi’s bilateral talks with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron. In his meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, the primary focus was on intensifying negotiations for concluding the Free Trade Agreement, which will pave the way for accelerating India-UK economic relations. The primary focus of the Modi-Macron talks was on the next steps in the India-France defence partnership under the template of ‘Make in India’ model of co-production and co-development.

The much-anticipated bilateral meeting between PM Modi and US President Joe Biden did not happen due to time constraints, but the two leaders had a meaningful pull-aside meeting in which they decided to fast-track key initiatives taken during PM Modi’s historic visit to Washington nearly a year ago. The pull-aside meeting was marked by personal warmth and mutual regard, said official sources.

PM Modi, according to sources, has returned to India with a lot of satisfaction and a sense of achievement after projecting India as a rising global power and a bridge-builder between the Global North and Global South. PM Modi has made India indispensable to G7 and the summit in Puglia showed that global problems and crises can’t be resolved without India. India has a big global role to play in addressing these crises, said John Kirton, Director, G7 Research Group.

The G7 summit in Italy culminated in a joint declaration that focused on financial support for Ukraine migration, artificial intelligence, economic security and the Indo-Pacific region. The highlight of the summit was a “deal” to “use profits from frozen Russian Central Bank assets” to shore up $46 billion support for Ukraine. “With a view to supporting Ukraine’s current and future needs in the face of a prolonged defence against Russia, the G7 will launch ‘Extraordinary Revenue Acceleration (ERA) Loans for Ukraine’ in order to make available approximately $ 50bn in additional funding to Ukraine by the end of the year”, said a joint statement.

(With reporting by Sunday Guardian Live)