Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday took part in an almost two-hour long virtual G20 summit. It was perhaps the first time that the leaders were video-conferencing on a global humanitarian crisis.
Stating that the World Health Organisation (WHO) is operating on a 19th century model, Prime Minister Modi called for major reforms in the organisation. He said WHO needs to be empowered with new tools and mandates that could have allowed it to intervene more effectively in the aftermath of the outbreak of COVID-19.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the first to suggest the idea of the virtual summit of G20 leaders to Saudi Crown Prince Salman.
Prime Minister Modi told the G20 leaders that the concept of globalisation needs to be changed. Calling for a human-centric and not trade and finance based approach, Modi proposed that human, health and societal issues as well as terrorism and climate change issues should take prominence in the new global order.
Other G20 leaders suggested a common strategy to fight the pandemic. They sought an action plan to mitigate the challenge posed by the novel Coronavirus besides cooperation among member states in making a vaccine against the virus and steps to create confidence in the global economy.
The G20 leaders also committed to infusing $5 trillion in the global market to keep world trade running. The leaders also committed to voluntarily fund the WHO led COVID-19 solidarity fund. This is on lines with the SAARC fund created to fight the menace that was proposed by Prime minister Narendra Modi.
In his remarks, Prime Minister Modi also said that instead of engaging in a blame game, G20 leaders should concentrate on freely sharing the technology, research and vaccines to fight out the pandemic.
All leaders agreed to strengthen the WHO’s mandate and make it the nodal body on deciding treatment, vaccine, testing kits and medicines.
Sources in the government told Rajya Sabha TV that Prime Minister Modi was virtually speaking on behalf of all the developing countries, small island nations, climate sensitive conglomerates and least developed countries. Raising issues of the countries that are dependent on tourism, the Prime Minister specifically named Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Maldives.
The video conference also saw G20 leaders resolve to fight the Corona virus menace to the finish. Specific references were made by Chinese President Xi Jinping, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on sharing medical research and equipment. The Chinese president asked member nations to lower tarrifs and improve trade climate.
There were also words of appreciation for Prime Minister Modi for taking the initiative for the SAARC leaders video conference and presenting a model for discussion among G20 leaders in this time of crisis.
Generally understood as a grouping of big economies meant to discuss econimc and financial issues, the G20 was for the first time video conferencing on a humanitarian crisis.
US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin also addressed the members.
At the conclusion, G20 leaders agreed to work together to protect human lives, safeguard jobs, revive growth and minimise disruption in the global supply chain. They also agreed to coordinate on puboic health and financial measures including affordable health infrastructure.