Resetting Imperialist Hegemony through the G20 with India as adjunct

The 30-31 October 2021 G-20 summit closed in Rome with a 20-page communique which claims answers to all the world’s problems from economic stability to social justice.

Bad enough that it was the exclusive ‘club’ of rich and large economies, the Rome summit went ahead despite being reduced to the ‘club’ of imperialists and their adjuncts. This G-20 signalled the beginning of a new phase of imperialist aggression accompanied by an unwillingness to dialogue or listen, much less recognise the rights and aspirations of other countries. In response to this conduct of western countries, the Presidents of China and Russia marked their strong objection by physically keeping away from the summit and addressing it through video link.

For the US and the west European countries, the G-20 has now become a site to reassert their hegemony. On this occasion the two key issues agreed upon for discussion at the summit – healthcare and climate change – were deployed as weapons for imperialist control.

On the climate crisis: the G-20 failed to come to a decision with a clear timetable for net zero emissions. While it committed itself to stopping all new investment in coal it provided no framework for exiting coal, unfairly disadvantaging countries in the global south that remain primarily dependent on coal for their energy. The G-20 also gave no tangible financial commitments from developed countries to assist countries in the global south to meet the costs of a transition and remained entirely silent on the fact that the rich countries have significantly failed to meet both their environmental obligations and their financial promises made over a decade.

On healthcare: the G-20 did not as much as discuss the question of patents for Covid-19 vaccines and it offered no compromise on corporate profits in order to ensure equitable access to vaccines or non-discrimination based on country of origin for vaccine approval.

Of the rest that was all pre-decided there are no shared commitments on economic stability from the imperialist north as the competition between them continues to intensify as they put in place layers of protectionist barriers for their own economies while coercing countries of the global south to liberalise their markets so that global corporations can expand in them. The minimum global corporate tax set at 15 per cent is too little too late with the largest tax havens having reached that level of taxation already. Further the political will of the United States and west European countries to remove all tax breaks and agree on robust global principles for transfer pricing remain unaddressed. Without this any global tax regime remains a theoretical exercise continuing to provide global corporations enough shelter to hide and transfer their profits to their developed home countries.

For its part, India was represented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi who begged for WHO approval for Covaxin with no takers of his offer to produce in his ‘pharmacy of the world’ 5 billion vaccines in 2022. The world is witness to Mr Modi’s promises as our country continues to be ravaged by the effects of pandemic caused largely by the BJP government’s criminal neglect. Mr Modi came through for what he is, a bully at home who employes violent authoritarianism to pursue a divisive and discriminatory agenda and supine when before ‘great powers’.

The G-20 put India on display for what the BJP government has reduced the country to, a supplicant to imperialist countries as it fails to work the global balance of force. This is not a surprising outcome for a party that cravenly binds itself to capitalism and undermines the economy making it easy prey to global capital. This is not a surprising outcome for a party whose parent organisation, the RSS and one of its foremost leaders, and ideologues of majoritarian hindutva V. D. Savarkar cravenly sought protection from the colonial ruler as the entire country fought for self-determination. Being subjects of imperialism is their natural order.

Let the visible lack of mutuality and cooperation at the G-20, let the recalibration of imperialist domination be a reminder to the working class that the world of mutuality, cooperation and respect is a world built on principles of solidarity which is a world for the working class to build.

Let us be reminded here at home that we were respected in the comity of nations because as a people and a working class we won our independence and built our democracy. Independence we may have won seven decades ago but in defending and advancing our democracy we have an arduous task ahead, a task we must complete. And a world we must win.

Gautam Mody
General Secretary
New Trade Union Initiative