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Opinion: G7 Must Stop Being An Old Boys’ Club – And Embrace India, Officially

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English poet Alfred Tennyson, in one of his famous poems, captures the mighty but mortally wounded King Arthur acknowledging in his dying moments the universal truth that “the old order changeth, yielding place to new, and God fulfils Himself in many ways, lest one good custom should corrupt the world”.
 
Tennyson believed that change is the law of nature and that the domination of one power, one culture, and one custom is harmful to the world. This idea is highly relevant in today’s political landscape, dominated by the US and Western powers. As the leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) met in Italy for their annual summit on Thursday and Friday, it underscored the need for global governance to adapt and embrace emerging nations’ voices, ensuring a dynamic and equitable international order.

The G7 Summit And Global Issues

Unsurprisingly, the summit was dominated by the security of Ukraine. The first day was focused on the US proposal to loan Ukraine 50 billion dollars from the frozen assets of Russia, which was against international law. Much of the second day was spent finding ways to curb China’s exports. There was little time devoted to Israel’s brutal war in Gaza.

America’s leadership style and its position as the number one power in the world are often questioned due to its alleged two-faced foreign policy. With the emergence of right-wing forces across the Western hemisphere, one wonders if the liberal, democratic West-dominated world order would crumble from within.

A Changed World Since 1975

Leaders, academics, and political commentators alike tend to overlook the ground reality that we live in an entirely changed world from the time the world’s most industrialized nations formed the G7 in 1975. The founding members – France, West Germany, the US, the UK, Italy, and Japan – were truly global economic powers. Canada joined them a year later, and Russia was inducted in 1998 but excluded in 2014 after its invasion of Crimea. To complete the dominance of the West, the European Union became the unofficial eighth member of this exclusive club.

At that time, India and China, the two ancient civilisations, lived in relative obscurity and had no global voice. But the world has undergone profound transformations since then. The rise of India and China has shifted the global economic balance. Technological advancements, particularly in digital and communication fields, have revolutionised industries and daily lives in these two countries.

India’s Emergence

India today is ahead of Italy, the host of this year’s summit, in terms of economic, political, and military might. The same is perhaps true of Canada. On their own and without the might of the US, these two countries cannot exercise much power on the global stage. Japan, the odd man out in the old boys’ club, is content being a passive partner. The United Kingdom, once a global force, draws its power mainly from being America’s footman now. The world’s second and fifth largest economies, which are home to a third of humanity, have little or no say in the global world order dominated by the Western powers.

With the fall of the Soviet Union, the US acquired the keys to global governance and assumed the role of a solo global leader. The G7 has faced increasing criticism over the years for being an exclusive club that predominantly represents the interests of wealthy Western nations. Critics often label the G7 as an “old boys’ club” or a grouping of the “White Western world”, suggesting it is out of touch with the global realities of the 21st century.

Critics from the Global South, with India as a leading force, argue that the G7 perpetuates a neocolonial economic system that prioritises its members’ interests over those of less developed nations. This is evident in the G7’s trade policies, often seen as protectionist and detrimental to developing countries. Additionally, the G7’s approach to global issues such as climate change and health is sometimes criticised for imposing Western values and solutions without adequately considering local contexts and needs.

India’s Rightful Place

The concerns of the West are not whether the world order should be more inclusive. Its chief worry is that the existing world order faces existential threats. Consider French President Emmanuel Macron’s address at the annual conference of French ambassadors last year, where he lamented that “attempts to change the existing world order threaten to weaken the West and especially Europe”. He also warned against the weakening of Western influence on key global institutions, such as the UN Security Council, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the World Bank.

Reforming the G7 is sorely needed. Indians might ask, why not make India a member and call it the G8? One can understand that the West doesn’t want to include a non-democratic China and an expansionist Russia in this group. But countries like India, Brazil, and South Africa must form part of a new, reformed world order.

India has the right credentials. With a vast population, the fastest-growing major economy, and a strategic geopolitical position, India presents a strong case for inclusion in the G7. Integrating India into the G7 would enhance the group’s legitimacy and representativeness while bolstering global efforts to tackle pressing issues such as climate change, international security, and economic inequality.

As a responsible global actor, India has demonstrated its commitment to multilateralism and international cooperation. India’s active participation in organisations such as the United Nations, BRICS, and the G20 highlights its willingness to engage constructively on global issues. Its inclusion in the G7 would enhance the group’s democratic credentials and strengthen the global coalition of democratic nations working to uphold international norms and human rights.

The US and the West have fought several wars and perpetuated invasions of independent nations. Their track record is replete with wars and violence. India must be given a chance in the new world order because it is capable of fighting for peace. Once again, to quote Alfred Tennyson, “ring out the thousand wars of old, ring in the thousand years of peace”.

(Syed Zubair Ahmed is a London-based senior Indian journalist with three decades of experience with the Western media)

Disclaimer: These are the personal opinions of the author

 With a vast population, the fastest-growing major economy, and a strategic geopolitical position, India presents a strong case for inclusion in the G7.    

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