G-7 to FIPIC and Quad summits: World will closely watch PM Modi
In the 3rd -4th week of May, the world would witness high profile multilateral diplomatic engagements, across the continents, where PM Narendra Modi would be the star attraction as in the changed geo-political environment, post Covid and ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, the West needs India much more than ever
India is being wooed by big and powerful nations, hence the invitation to the Indian Prime Minister as President of G-20, by host country, this time Japan, to join Heads of States of the world’s seven powerful economies.
The G-7 summit to be held on May 19-21 in Hiroshima would be followed by the 3rd summit of the Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC) in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on May22 and four-nation QUAD summit in Sydney on May 24, where India and it is three partner countries USA, Japan and Australia, would be silently working out strategies to counter China, in strategic and economic domain and find an alternative supply chain system.
India has huge opportunities to emerge as an alternative source country for the West. India’s rising economic heft and deft diplomacy has enabled the most populous country of the world to sit on various high tables belonging to rival camps, from G-7 to G-20, QUAD, I2U2 (India, Israel, USA, UAE), SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organisation), BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) etc.
With the newly gained status of world’s fifth largest economy and fourth largest military power besides being dubbed as a leader of the Global South, and as an important voice in the rich country’s groupings, India has shown credible management of its economy, on which depends the wellbeing of most of the industrial economies, as India provides a middle-class high consumption populace and investment regime.
From Indian Ocean to Pacific Ocean, India’s stabilising role and benign partnerships with coastal states has been well recognised. Hence, it was appropriate for managers of Indian diplomacy and strategy to schedule a two-day rendezvous with 14 of the Pacific Island states in Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, the largest island nation in the Pacific.
PM Modi had addressed the first summit of India-Pacific countries, from the platform of Forum for India-Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC), held in 2014 in Suva, the capital of Fiji. In the backdrop of China and US competition to woo the Pacific Islands nations, PM Modi’s visit to Port Moresby would be worth watching for strategic observers.
As is well known, China has signed a security pact with the Pacific nation Solomon Islands, and during President Joe Biden's visit to Port Moresby, the US would be signing a wide ranging security cooperation agreement with Papua New Guinea. Considering these strategic moves, India's summit with 14 FIPIC members in Papua New Guinea would be a landmark event, which would focus not only on development matters but security issues also.
While India plays an important role in managing the affairs of the world, with its significant presence in opposing national groupings, Indian diplomatic moves are being watched closely. Managing or containing China is the buzzword in diplomatic circles these days and India is being described as an alternative bet. India is rising to the occasion and making efforts to prepare the ground for meeting the expectations of the industrialised economies.
In fact, when PM Modi will travel to Sydney for the Quad Leadership summit after holding the meeting of the FIPIC in Port Moresby, the world would be watching closely how Indian leader galvanises the Pacific Islands nations towards playing a role in establishing a peaceful order in the Pacific maritime area, and give a new direction to QUAD, without appearing to be excessively focussing on China. China’s rise, both in economic and political arena, and its open challenge to present world order is a cause of worry not only for Indian strategists but the Western countries also.
On May 24, PM Anthony Albanese of Australia will welcome Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of Japan, Kishida Fumio and President of the United States, Joseph R Biden, to Sydney for the 2023 Quad Leaders’ Summit. The four big powers share a vision for an open, stable, and prosperous Indo-Pacific that is governed by accepted rules and norms, where all can cooperate, trade, and thrive.
Every year, the four Quad Leaders meet to discuss the region’s most pressing challenges and advance the Quad’s positive and practical agenda. The QUAD summit in Sydney will showcase the Quad’s enduring contribution to the region and the tangible benefits being delivered for Indo-Pacific partners.
India’s contribution towards these aims would be keenly watched. Sydney would be the final leg of PM Modi’s three nation tour during which Indian foreign policy would be articulated, both in pushing multilateral agenda and bilateral engagements with world’s leading powers.
***The author is a senior journalist and strategic affairs analyst; views expressed here are his own