Urban areas in India look like colossal construction sites. New roads and highways, rapid-transit, rail and other projects in India’s cities reflect a national push to transform a country where economic growth has long been curtailed by crumbling and inefficient infrastructure. The government has poured money into the problem, an effort that has accelerated as the West has grown uneasy over relying on China for manufactured goods.
Last week, India hosted the G20 Summit. While the absence of Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin might have taken away some of the meeting’s significance, the summit still served to highlight India’s achievements.
Ever since independence in 1947, India’s foreign policy has prioritised relations with the poor world, chiefly through its leadership of the Non-Aligned Movement. Under Narendra Modi, India has renewed this focus through a promise to represent and lead what has come to be called the “global south”. The G20 presidency has helped boost India’s image in the world in a year when it outgrew China to become the world’s most populous nation and its GDP is among the fastest growing of any major economy.
In 2008, China used the Beijing Olympic games as a “coming-out party” to show itself off to the world. For India and for Modi himself, the G20 has served much the same purpose. Australia is indeed fortunate to have the two great Asian giants on our doorstep. If China slows as expected over coming years, India’s growth will incrementally pick up the slack and provide a destination for many of our export products and services.
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