India backs inclusion of the African Union as a full member of the Group of 20 largest economies as no plan for the future of the planet can be successful without the representation and recognition of all voices, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said, days ahead of the annual summit of the influential bloc.
In an exclusive interview to PTI late last week, Modi said Africa is "top priority" for India and that it works for the inclusion of those in global affairs who feel their voices are not being heard.
In the last few years, India has been positioning itself as a leading voice, flagging concerns, challenges and aspirations of the Global South or the developing nations, especially the African continent.
"I would like to draw your attention to the theme of our G20 presidency -- 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam -- One Earth, One Family, One Future'. It is not just a slogan but a comprehensive philosophy that is derived from our cultural ethos," Modi said during the wide-ranging interview at his Lok Kalyan Marg residence.
"This guides our outlook within India and towards the world too," he said, responding to a question on India's proposal for African Union's G20 membership.
The prime minister has been leading from the front on the issue of the African Union's membership of the G20. In June, Modi wrote to the G20 leaders pitching for according the African Union the full membership of the grouping at its New Delhi summit.
Weeks later, the proposal was formally included in the draft communique for the summit during the third G20 Sherpas meeting that took place in Karnataka's Hampi in July.
A final decision on the proposal would be taken at the G20 summit to be held in New Delhi on September 9 and 10. The African Union (AU) is an influential organisation comprising 55 member states that make up the countries of the African continent.
The prime minister also referred to India's hosting of the Voice of the Global South summit in January that was aimed at bringing to international stage the challenges facing the developing countries.
"Africa is a top priority for us even within the G20. One of the first things we did during our G20 Presidency was to hold the Voice of the Global South summit, which had enthusiastic participation from Africa," Modi said.
"We believe that no plan for the future of the planet can be successful without the representation and recognition of all voices," he said.
"There is a need to come out of a purely utilitarian world view and embrace a 'Sarva Jana Hitaaya, Sarva Jana Sukhaaya’ (for the welfare of all, for the happiness of all) model," he added.
The prime minister noted that India's affinity to Africa is natural as it has had millennia-old cultural and commerce ties with the region.
"When we say we see the world as a family, we truly mean it. Every country's voice matters, no matter the size, economy or region.
“In this, we are also inspired by the humane vision and ideals of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, and Kwame Nkrumah," he said The prime minister said the effort towards "greater inclusion" of the Global South, particularly Africa in global affairs has gained momentum and that India's G20 presidency has sowed the "seeds of confidence" in the countries of the so-called 'Third World'.
"They are gaining greater confidence to shape the direction of the world in the coming years on many issues such as climate change and global institutional reforms. We will move faster towards a more representative and inclusive order where every voice is heard," he said.
"Further, all this will happen with the cooperation of the developed countries, because today, they are acknowledging the potential of the Global South more than ever before and recognising the aspirations of these countries as a force for the global good," he said.
The G20 includes the world's 19 wealthiest countries and the European Union.
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