By: Kumar Ramesh
In the era of 1973, when oil crisis arose in the world, America was in the Cold War with its biggest rival Soviet Union and India was preparing for its first nuclear test in 1974 through Smiling Buddha. At the same time, US President Richard Nixon was so intimidated by his policy of ousting Saudi King Faizal-bin-Abdulaziz-al-Saud over the oil crisis, that even the oil problem was solved, the United States took over the security of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and included it in its fraction, and most importantly the use of only dollars in the oil-gas trade made it the world’s strongest currency in 1974. Simultaneously the most developed and industrialized countries i.e. US, UK, France, Germany, Italy and Japan envisioned a group where they could set up a platform to strengthen their economy and discuss global issues. The group was the G6, whose first meeting was in 1975 in the city of Rambouillet, France. Subsequently, in 1976, Canada was also included and made into G7. It has now become a group that includes not only the world’s largest industrialized and developed countries, but also the world’s largest exporters, the largest gold reserves, the largest producers of nuclear energy, the largest donors to the United Nations and countries that contributed 45% to global GDP had become. Finally, there was a turning point when the Cold War ended after the Soviet Union disintegration into 15 countries in 1991, then Russia was included in this group and made it G8 in 1997.
Two decades later, Russia’s objective of weakening the countries involved in the European Union and NATO made it an eyesore for this group, which caused the European countries in the group to distance themselves from it. Ultimately, this opportunity was given by Russia itself, when in 2014 it captured the Crimea province of Ukraine, then it was excluded from the group and made it G7 again. At the moment everything in this group is not going well, or should I say that since Donald Trump became the US President, he has stopped the G7 economic growth from its protectionist America First’s policy. This was reflected in the summit held in Quebec, Canada in June 2018, when Trump returned from the summit amid differences with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau over NAFTA treaty. Subsequently, something similar happened in the summit held in the city of Biarritz in France in 2019, when differences between Germany and the US on NATO’s defense expenditure emerged completely and that photo of German Chancellor Angela Merkel caught the attention of the whole world, when she was convincing to the US President in a chair. Today the situation has become such that when the 46th meeting of G7 is going to be held in David Camp, America in September 2020, then the US President has called it outdated and has questioned its relevance. But some other things Donald Trump have said, which can be emphasized on the plan to revive the G7. That is to expand it by adding India, Australia, South Korea and Russia to this group.
If we talking from the G7 perspective, can a developing country like India get membership in this developed group, and does US President have the right to single-handedly make India or any other member of it? Recently, the EU spokesman said that as host, Donald Trump may of course invite to all four countries including India, but the US President alone does not have the right to grant membership. The most important thing is why Donald Trump wants to include India in this group, even though we are not a fully developed and industrialized country like Australia, South Korea. The main reason for this is the falling popularity of the G7 and the rise of developed but developing countries like China, India and Brazil in the economic world. Today the result is that the share of G7 in global GDP has come down to 40% whereas the share of G20 has increased to 80% due to China, India and Brazil. Therefore, the Trump administration has made such a plan, so that the snake dies and the sticks also become stronger. Due to the coronavirus and trade war, Trump wants to keep China away from the group and punish it while bringing India closer to his allaying and removing it from the list of developing countries, because being in this list; both India and China get many exemptions and subsidies from the WTO. The US President has many times called India the Tariff King; As a result, he first excluded India from the GSP, and then excluded the list of developing countries from the US Trade Representative before coming to India’s state visit. Trump says that India’s trade in global GDP is more than 0.5%, as well as a member of an economic group like the G20, so how is it developing? Although from the behavior of Trump, US’s closest allies like Canada, Japan, South Korea, Mexico and the EU are also unhappy. For now, the G7 has ceased to be a political group, so Trump wants to stop China from taking all the powers of Indo-Pacific closer to him in order to save his political career and show himself a strong leader. The purpose of including Russia in the group is only that the Russian administration should not oppose the US while bringing China under pressure.
In the context of India, its expansion will be finalized in the summit to be held in UK in 2021, and due to the aggression of present-day China, all countries will surely join it, but skepticism persists over Russia rejoining, as UK, Canada, Germany have openly protested. However, joining the G7 is both beneficial and harmful for India. Beneficial because joining the elite club will increase economic credibility with India’s reputation in the world fraternity. Apart from this, India does not have any major forum except the G20 wherein it can meet most of the global leaders. Harmful because after joining it, India will have to express its views on the issues on which it has remained generally neutral. Whether it is Russia’s Crimea, China’s Tibet, Hong Kong or Taiwan, because whatever decision comes out of the joint declaration, it will also be considered as India’s stand. From another perspective, India currently participates with Russia and China in addition to BRICS, SCO, G20 and RIC, so it will not be easy for India to balance the three superpowers together after joining G7. The biggest disadvantage will be that in this, our matters can also be discussed, whether it is the issues of minorities, about Kashmir or human rights. In the end, if India only has to do politics, then the United Nations stage is the best and if it is to work from an economic perspective then the G20 will be the best. But with increasing global credibility, if India can co-ordinate the three global powers, then it will definitely be beneficial for India to join this group. Therefore, we will have to see how India will be able to join the G7 and turn its interests into opportunity by avoiding the trap of Donald Trump. (The writer is a Criminologist, Foreign Affairs Analyst & World Record holder and can be reached at Tweeter: @KumarRamesh0)