India’s G20 presidency, where photo-ops are mistaken for outcomes and a stage for a summit

New Delhi is desperate for a seat at the global high table that would validate Narendra Modi’s domestic image of a powerful global leader. But inflated opinions are often a trap.

For India, the presidency of the G20 is nothing if not a big party. The government has turned it into a tourism festival, with mid-level functionaries from member countries being garlanded, made to sport turbans and watch dancers welcome them to dull and drab preparatory meetings for a summit that will only be held in September. As a spectacle, the New Delhi summit will dwarf the Non-Aligned Movement summit and Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting that the national capital hosted in 1983, though it will host a smaller number of heads of state/government.

With the Indian government directing all its …


Sushant Singh

Sushant Singh is a senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi. He has taught at Yale University (Fall 2019 and Fall 2021) and was deputy editor of The Indian Express. A winner of the prestigious Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards in 2017 and 2018, he had earlier served in the Indian Army for two decades. He is also the author of Mission Overseas and co-author of Note by Note: The India Story.