India, the host of this year’s G20 summit, has faced criticism from some of its fellow members and civil society groups over its human rights record and its alleged slide into fascism. The criticism comes as India seeks to project itself as a global leader and a bridge between the Global South and the West.
The G20 summit, held in New Delhi on September 9-10, brought together the leaders of the world’s largest economies to discuss issues related to the global economy, health, climate change, and development. India, as the president of the G20 this year, has set the theme of “One Earth, One Family, One Future” and has highlighted its achievements in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, promoting renewable energy, and fostering digital innovation.
However, India’s image as a democratic and pluralistic nation has been tarnished by its recent actions and policies that have been widely seen as violating human rights and undermining democratic norms. These include the crackdown on dissent and civil liberties, the repression of minorities and marginalized groups, the erosion of judicial independence and media freedom, and the promotion of Hindu nationalism.
Some of the G20 members have expressed their concerns over India’s human rights situation and have urged India to respect its international obligations and commitments. For instance, the United States, the European Union, Canada, and Australia have raised the issue of India’s controversial citizenship law that excludes Muslims from a fast-track naturalization process. They have also called for the release of political prisoners, activists, journalists, and protesters who have been detained or arrested under draconian laws.
Civil society groups have also staged protests and campaigns to draw attention to India’s human rights violations and to demand accountability from the Indian government. They have accused India of using the G20 presidency to whitewash its image and to divert attention from its domestic problems. They have also challenged India’s claim to represent the Global South and to champion inclusive development.
The clash between India and its critics has cast a shadow over the G20 summit and has exposed the deep divisions and tensions within the grouping. It has also raised questions about India’s role and credibility as a global actor and a regional power. While India has achieved some success in advancing its economic interests and diplomatic agenda at the G20 summit, it has also faced challenges in balancing its geopolitical ambitions with its democratic values.