The African Union (AU) becomes a member of the G20, an international partnership. Indian Prime Minister Modi announced this at the start of the G20 summit in his country.
The AU will be the second union to join the economic partnership. The EU is also part of the group of countries. According to the G20, in the run-up to the summit, the member states together accounted for about 80 percent of the global gross national product.
“I invite the representative of the African Union to take his seat as a permanent member of the G20,” Modi said in his opening remarks. The announcement was received with applause. The G20 host has made many preparations to make the New Delhi summit, which lasts until Sunday, a success.
The Prime Minister had announced in advance that India “will become the voice of the Global South.” He says he stands up for emerging southern economies. Until now, South Africa was the only African member of the G20. Indonesia, Brazil, Argentina and Australia are also southern members.
Not India but Bharat
A striking detail was the nameplate on Modi’s table. Instead of India it said “Bharat” to indicate his country. In the run-up to the summit, there were already more indications that the Indian authorities may want to change the name of the country. The name Bharat is synonymous with ‘India’ in the country itself, but until now the term has hardly been used in an international context.
In ancient Hindu texts, the term Bharat is used to refer to the descendants of King Bharata. One of the most important texts in Hinduism is called the Mahabharata, which can be translated as ‘The great story of the Bharata dynasty’.
This probably explains why India’s current Hindu nationalist government gives more credence to ‘Bharat’. The opposition has criticized the possible name change.
Division over war in Ukraine
The elephant in the room at the top is the war in Ukraine. There is great division among member states about this. Western countries condemn Russia’s invasion and want more sanctions against Moscow, but countries such as South Africa, China, Brazil and India have a more nuanced view of the conflict and want the summit to focus more on economic cooperation.
The agreement that the G20 leaders have made on the war is indicative of the conflicting interests. The only concrete thing in the statement is that the use of nuclear weapons or the threat of such use by the Member States is unacceptable.
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