India has said that it will study the US President Joe Biden’s ‘Build Back Better’ global infrastructure initiative proposal announced at the G7 summit as an alternative to China’s Belt and Road (BRI).
This plan, which is proposed to be led by major democracies, will provide financial and technological help to narrow the over $40 trillion infrastructure need, mainly in the developing world which has been worsened by Covid-19.
It is also expected to create local employment. This initiative at G7 is seen as a potential jolt to Chinese President Xi Jinping’s pet project BRI.
India said relevant agencies will be studying the plan and will probably engage with the project later. Briefing reporters, senior ministry of external affairs (MEA) official P Harish said, “On the specific question of joining ‘Build back better for the world’, I can confirm that relevant agencies of the government of India would study them and would engage with them probably at the later stage.
China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is already facing criticism even by subscribing countries. Whether it is mounting debt, a lack of local employment or transparency, a lot of questions and red flags have been raised. While India refused to join the Chinese initiative and sees it as an infringement of its territorial integrity, neighbours Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka are part of the BRI.
At G7, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has urged the democratic countries to demonstrate to the world that they can implement projects in a more effective and transparent manner.
According to a senior MEA official, “The PM has emphasised that democracies should demonstrate that in project implementation sphere we can deliver not only within the country but in other countries also. On this issue, the PM referred to India’s experience that is in neighbouring countries, African countries and that in development framework partnership.
The PM also indicated that India stands ready to do more in this regard keeping in view the ethos of transparency and inclusion.”
At G7, Prime Minister Modi also emphasised on the need for open and democratic societies to work together and strengthen each other’s hands to defend the values that they hold and to respond to challenges.
When asked whether there was any discussion on the origin of Covid, the MEA official said “I can say that leaders of the G7 and guest countries had a very detailed and intense discussion on the need for reforming global health governance, I would like to emphasise in this regard that India has been actively engaged with the international community at the levels of G20, G7 and the World Health Assembly on various aspects related to dealing with the current pandemic, learning lessons and preparing for future pandemics.”
The India-South Africa TRIPS waiver proposal also found widespread support at the G7 and the need to diversify technology transfer and financing for equitable vaccine distribution.
MEA secretary P Harish said, “There was widespread support in the deliberation for text-based negotiations for India-South Africa proposal for TRIPS waiver at WTO. On the need to provide financial assistance to various manufacturers in the world was general agreement to increase its capacity, regional production hubs, providing financing, technology transfer and skill development in these regions.”
“I can say without hesitation that India s engagement with the G7 and guest countries stands on its own. This is the second G7 summit that the PM attended. He attended in France in 2019. This is also the first time India has been engaged and ministerial and working-level tracks as a guest country. This is a significant engagement,” the senior MEA official added.
“UK Prime Minister Johnson referred to the four guest countries and working-level tracks as forming a democratic level and many countries appreciated India’s G7 engagement and PM Modi’s interventions during sessions which found a great resonance in the gathering. So I can say that our engagement was fruitful, was productive and we hope to take forward our engagement in various initiatives including in the run-up to COP26,” MEA Secretary P Harish added. (Courtesy Times of India)