Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been invited by Boris Johnson, his British counterpart, to attend the G-7 annual summit to be held in the United Kingdom as his guest.
This is, however, not the first time that Modi will be attending. In 2019, he was in France for the outreach meeting of the group. Donald Trump, who was to have hosted the summit in 2020, had also invited Modi. Thanks to the pandemic, the event was later cancelled. Trump was keen to invite not just Prime Minister Modi but Russian President Vladimir Putin as well, which would have stirred a major controversy back home for the outgoing President.
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who was on an official trip to India in December last year to finalise details of Prime Minister Johnson’s visit to New Delhi as chief guest for the Republic Day parade, had announced that his leader had invited the Indian PM for the summit to be held in Cornwall in June.
England is hosting the G7 annual meet of the seven highly industrialised nations of the world this year. Members include the UK, US, France, Germany, Canada, Japan, and Italy. Earlier Russia was also part of this high-powered group but was thrown out after the annexation of Crimea in 2014. It was then called the G8.
Like Trump, Boris Johnson is keen to expand the membership of the G7 and has also invited Australia and South Korea PM’s to Cornwall, But unlike Trump, Johnson does not want Russia to rejoin the exclusive group. Britain is hoping that the newly-elected US President Joe Biden will make the G7 summit his first visit abroad. Biden, however, is unlikely to welcome Russia back to the fold.
There have also been talks of expanding the G7 to include countries like India, Australia and South Korea. However, there will have to be a consensus among all seven countries for the group to include newcomers.
An invite to the G7 summit is an acknowledgement that despite the current state of the Indian economy, the world expects India to bounce back. Since the 1991 economic reforms, the international community eyeing India’s potential and its huge market had been paying a lot of attention to the country.
Successive Indian PM’s had pushed India’s case to sit on the world’s high table. Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has attended as many as five G-7 Summits (then called the G8) — in 2005 (UK), 2006 (Russia), 2007 (Germany), 2008 (Japan), and 2009 (Italy). Despite not living up to the hopes of rapid economic growth, India with its huge potential and its democratic credentials cannot be ignored.
Attending the G7 summit in the UK will allow Prime Minister Modi to push India’s concerns and articulate New Delhi’s ideas for a post-covid world before the leaders of the world’s most advanced nations. At home, it will further add to Modi’s stature as an important world leader.