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Special Content

Issue no 48, 25 February-3 March 2023

B20 India 2023 Aligning Dialogues for Sustainable, Inclusive Business Practices


Rupa Dutta "India is working on a roadmap of 25 years to become a developed nation by 2047 when we celebrate 100 years of Independence. The four 'I's that are driving India's growth are massive investments in infrastructure, our focus on integrity, inclusive development, & international outlook."- Shri Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce & Industry and Textiles, Government of India.

India holds the Presidency of the G20 from 1st December 2022 to 30th November 2023. Drawing inspiration from its G20 Presidency theme of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' - 'One Earth One Family One Future', India is hosting over 200 meetings in over 50 cities across 32 different work-streams, utilising the opportunity to offer G20 delegates and guests a glimpse of India's rich cultural heritage and provide them with a unique Indian experience. 'Business 20' or 'B20' serves as a vital channel of dialogue between the global business community and the G20. Established in 2010, this forum has emerged as one of the most prominent engagement groups within the G20, bringing together an array of companies and business organisations. Each year, the G20 Presidency selects a B20 Chair - a highly prominent business leader from the host country - to lead the B20's efforts in shaping economic and trade governance. With the support of a dedicated B20 Sherpa and secretariat, the B20 sets out to craft concrete, actionable policy recommendations aimed at driving economic growth and development. These recommendations are thereafter developed through the efforts of Task Forces and Action Councils, which are also responsible for building consensus on priorities and submit policy recommendations to the G20 and relevant international organisations. In this context, the Inception Meeting of B20 was held in Gandhinagar, Gujarat, from 22nd to 24th January 2023. The meeting was attended by 190 foreign delegates from over 30 countries and 450 Indian delegates. The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has been designated as B20 Secretariat by the Indian Government. The meeting officially launched the work of the task forces and action councils and provided a platform for the global business community to engage with representatives from all G20 countries. The theme of "R.A.I.S.E" (Responsible, Accelerated, Innovative, Sustainable, and Equitable Businesses) provided the backdrop against which with Task Forces and Action Councils worked to develop recommendations which aligned with the overall vision of both the B20 and G20. "India has taken four approaches in the recent past to maintain its relatively high growth rate in difficult times including economic management, digital economy, regulation in digital economy and new technology" - Shri Ashwini Vaishnaw, Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, Communications and Railways, Government of India. The Inception Meeting signalled the formal initiation of discussions on crucial global concerns, including the stability of global supply chains, equitable access to digital infrastructure, and sustainable and responsible business practices. The public sessions of the meeting took place in the presence of Ministers, Senior government officials, business executives, and influential policy makers. The meeting brought together policymakers, thought leaders, business executives, and representatives from multilateral organisations to discuss and deliberate on the critical global issues. In addition, over 99 events across the country have been planned which will include meetings centred on the recommendations of the taskforces, with special focus on India's North-East region to showcase investment opportunities and highlight the potential for business partnerships in industries where the North-Eastern States have a strong presence. The culmination meeting would be the B20 Summit slated for August 2023. India has been promoting a business-friendly environment with a focus on the digital economy as a key area for government-business collaboration. B20 India presidency also focusses on promoting trade and investment and enhancing economic cooperation among G20 countries. Businesses have a responsibility to address global challenges as they play a significant role in creating jobs, goods, and services, and paying taxes. To achieve net-zero emissions, responsible consumption practices and lifestyles must be promoted globally. Some important goals for which B20 India has to strive towards include financing inclusive global recovery, especially for Least Developed Countries affected by the pandemic. Corporate leaders of all G20 countries would need to collaborate to achieve shared goals of prosperity for all. B20 India would also look towards a digital economy that promotes innovation and public service delivery through a digitally skilled workforce. Key pillars would include digital public goods, cyber resilience, bridging the digital divide, and digital skills. Besides, integration of MSMEs into local and global supply chains, digitisation of trade with enhanced access to Industry 4.0 technologies and Blockchain, IoT (Internet of Things), Analytics and Cloud Computing would be other areas requiring deep discussions and necessitate critical follow up actions.

The recommendations thus emerging will be presented to G20 leaders and provide a roadmap for businesses to work towards a responsible, accelerated, innovative, sustainable, and equitable future.

Given this entire perspective, some of the key objectives assuming centrestage are:

·         Digitalisation and industry 4.0 are the backbone of the new age GVCs (Global Value Chains) and to successfully integrate into the value chains, there needs to be adoption of technology at a faster pace. Importantly, these technologies should be able to communicate, analyse and act upon information, allowing organisations, consumers and society to be more flexible and responsive and make more intelligent, data driven decisions.

·         Ways to create employment at scale aligned to the jobs of the future and action plan for re-skilling and up-skilling of the workforce to operate in a technological world.

·         Accelerating financing for economic recovery, particularly encouraging support towards MSMEs.

·         Boosting efforts towards debt-servicing and facilitating funding support for most vulnerable economies.

·         Encouraging financing for development of sustainable and resilient infrastructure.

·         Promoting financial inclusion amongst the G20 countries, particularly through digital financial services.

·         Sharing best practices from strategies focused on the digitalisation of financial services. In particular, India has implemented the world's largest financial inclusion program using India Stack.

All the above mentioned initiatives/ objectives require collective and coordinated efforts amongst all G20 nations, to take concrete steps in the postCOVID world. While all countries are focusing on taking optimal steps for post-pandemic recovery of their economies, the necessity of looking at collaborative and combined efforts for working towards synchronised and synergised economic development across nations, imbibing the principles of collaboration and cooperation assume critical importance.

With India's emphasis on world as 'One Family', as a cornerstone of its presidency, it is time to look forward to adoption of sustainable and positive steps enabling economic development across all countries and all income groups within a country.

(The author is former Principal Economic Adviser, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade, Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India).

Views expressed are personal