Bharat’s ancient wisdom and Modi’s historic leadership driving the Global South

By Om Prakash Dwivedi

Are we witnessing a new phase of India’s political renaissance? The setting up of the Bharat Mandapam, the Natraj statue installed within its premises, and the placard displaying BHARAT at the G-20 summit, all deriving their vitality from the Maha Upanishad’s verse “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” that stands for “One Earth, One Family, One Future.” The ancient wisdom of Bharat has started permeating the geopolitical establishments in the world, thus making the world realise that the future lies in collectivity. 

At the first session of the G-2- summit, the ideological orientation of Bharat’s wisdom was palpable.

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PM Modi said:

“The 21st century is a time that has the potential to give a new direction to the entire world. It’s a time when years-old challenges demand new solutions from us. Therefore, we must move forward by fulfilling all our responsibilities with a human-centric approach.”

The G-20 summit received all it deserved – a vibrant new convention centre, Bharat Mandapam, standing in the heart of the national capital beckoning the world to look at the rising stature of Bharat. The mandapam that was built at the cost of almost Rs 27bn (£250m) derives its source from “Lord Basaveshwara’s concept of Anubhav Mandapam,” which served as a pedestal for public ceremonies. 

The Bharat Mandapam thus provided a window to the world to look at Bharat’s rich legacy and cultural diversity. Metaphorically, a mandapam is meant for a public gathering. It is also the sacrosanct place under which couples are married. It has a rich place in India’s cultural history, and it is not surprising to see that the faith behind the mandapam has cast its influence on world leaders. And so had the iconic statue of the Natraj that can be seen at the Bharat mandapam as well. Natraj symbolizes the cosmic dance of creation and very astutely sums up the pitch that was laid down for the Global South leadership.  

Against the backdrop of much hue and cry over the absence of China’s and Russia’s President at the ongoing G-20 summit, it was intriguing to see a 100 percent consensus being achieved at the Delhi Declaration. The situation was tense, and critics had already started questioning India’s stature, some even declaring the failure of India’s Presidency. Rand Corporation’s analyst Derek Grossman casts suspicion adding,

“If India does not take a stand in a situation when Russia goes Hitleresque across Europe or threatens nuclear war, then history will be very harsh on India for not making the right decision.”

“Putting national interest first is OK but values-based judgement matters in geopolitics. I feel like New Delhi is playing with fire.” One would have expected such disparaging remarks from the West, but the human-centric issues raised by India have ensured that it has started punching above its weight.

Likewise, The Wire, in its 07th September report, citing an anonymous, senior European Union official questioned the merits of the ‘text drafted by India on the Ukraine war’ by pointing out that it did “not go far enough” to be accepted by G7 and EU members.”

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As the old Urdu shayari puts it, “hum ko maalum hai jannat kii hakiiqat lekin dil ke khush rakhne ko Ghalib ye khayaal achhaa ha”, such aspersions and suspicions were only meant to tarnish India’s growing influence on the world politics. The G-20 Declaration has demonstrated “a good augury that may indicate the possibility of first securing a Ukraine-Russia grain deal and perhaps later, even ending the Russia-Ukraine war,” mentioned the renowned scholar, Madhav Nalpat.

The G-20 summit witnessed the “Historical and Path breaking #G20 Declaration with 100 percent consensus on all developmental and geo-political issues. The new geopolitical paras are a powerful call for Planet, People, Peace and Prosperity in today’s world. Demonstrates PM @narendramodi leadership in today’s world,” Amitabh Kant said in a post shared on X. 

Kant added, “The #NewDelhiLeadersDeclaration focuses on – Strong, Sustainable, Balanced, and Inclusive Growth Accelerating Progress on #SDGs Green Development Pact for a Sustainable Future Multilateral Institutions for the 21st Century Reinvigorating Multilateralism.” Not to forget that the Delhi Declaration also saw 112 outcomes and Presidency documents, that account for more than double the work that was done in previous presidencies. It also included the African union that represents 55 member states, some of them accounting for the world’s fastest-growing economies.  A continent of about 1.4 billion people that may soon represent a quarter of the global population by 2050. 

It is refreshing to see the rise of Bharat’s wisdom once again. If the global economy has to thrive it must take into consideration the idea of the Earth as one family. The influential insights provided by S. Jaishanker, Amitabh Kant, and their team have added much energy to PM Modi’s drive for the global leadership position. It augurs well for the future. The world needs firm leadership to drive the global agenda of peace, economic stability, and climate sustainability. As Modi said, “India’s G20 presidency has become a symbol of inclusion, of ‘sabka saath’ both inside and outside the country. The “vishwaguru” journey seems to have started in the Bharat Mandapam. A beautiful rendition of wisdom and modernity, change and stability, and a turn to ancient India’s civilisational pedagogy. 

Contributing Author: Om Prakash Dwivedi tweets @opdwivedi82. His interests lie in the field of postcolonial theory.

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