The expansion of the G8 to the G14 is taking place with new structures being put together with hairpins and chewing gum. Anticipated initially by John Kirton,Director of the G8 Institute,the Canadians,beginning with Paul Martin,pushed the fact that China and India were in the category of the fourth largest economies of the world.
The initial architecture and engineering of Leadership from the Top (L20) was by policy think-tanks,particularly Blackberry Chief Jim Basilie-sponsored CIGI.The academics who at Martin’s pushing wrote L20,the book which contained the architecture,were cautiously optimistic.
At the G8 meeting in the Bahamas,the British Prime Minister and the Russian President announced that India and China would be permanent invitees,so we had G10. Meanwhile,after the WTO fiascos in the London meeting,for the first time the Group 5 was invited. This was the US,EEC,India,Brazil and China. South Africa was to follow and we had G12. Given the volatility and importance of Africa to the emerging world,it was just time before Egypt would be included and to balance two in Africa,Mexico (G14).Angel Gurria,Secretary of the OECD was factually correct in saying that,what is happening here (L Aquila) is simply an acknowledgement of reality.
Gurria had a piece in the L20 book listing the global agenda for the high table. The book was also on the uneasy nature of the structure being created. First,there was first the differing nature of global interests. Invited to write for India,I argued that water and food security,energy and global trade and the financial architecture would be the menu we would bring to the high table and the question of the quantum jumps for the large countries as they look ahead rather than the incrementalism of the Developed G8.
India would also pursue,as we argued more recently in the G8 at the 10 volume,Rajiv Gandhi’s concept of concentric circles of influence. China was clearly uneasy. Having made it to Security Council,it looks at this quasi-democratisation of the global architecture with unease. It,therefore,followed a strategy of supping with the Big 4 and pursuing the rhetoric of the developing countries.
CIGI’s Andy Cooper,in a recent book on emerging powers in global governance,has again underlined the transitional nature of the structures being worked out. At La Aquila,India was,for the first time,comfortable. The Prime Minister’s offer to accelerate the pace of WTO talks and to host the Trade Ministers in Delhi shows the kind of initiatives which India can articulate.
Kamal Nath did superbly in resisting pressures and making India’s agenda clear. By the end of last year,it was quite clear that the country’s interest would be served more by establishing the new trade architecture rather than barracking it. Its interlocutor praise for the G8 for putting in more money for climate change and food security is good. What is not so good is India’s inability to lead the global debates on energy,food and water. It is caught in the G77 positions thirty years ago relevant and archaic now and the Bush position that large countries will resist pressures. That we can intervene in the debate at the margin where we make a big difference and apart from being the problem can also be the solution cannot be configured by South Block.