NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday called upon G20 leaders to keep human interests rather than economic targets at the center of the vision for global prosperity.
Modi spoke in a virtual G20 Leaders’ Summit on Thursday, which was convened by Saudi Arabia to discuss the challenges posed by the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and to forge a global coordinated response.
“In this grim situation, not just our own citizens, but the whole world is looking up to us. Our decisions and actions will shape the world’s response not just to this but also to future pandemics,” Modi said at the conference, which was attended by all the heads of the state of the world’s major industrialized nations.
He added: “We need to put human beings at the center of the vision for global prosperity and cooperation, freely and openly share the benefits of medical research and development, develop adaptive, responsive and humane health care systems.”
Modi also called for “strengthening and reforming intergovernmental organizations like World Health Organization (WHO) and working together to reduce economic hardships resulting from COVID-19 particularly, for the economically weak.”
The Indian prime minister also held a telephone conversation with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, in which he thanked King Salman for convening the extraordinary session of the G20.
Modi added that 90 percent of the COVID-19 cases and 88 percent of deaths were in G20 countries, despite only having 60 percent of the world’s population.
“The G20 represents 85 percent of the global gross domestic product, and today the whole world is facing this pandemic which has affected a large number of people, industries and global economies,” former Indian Ambassador to Jordan Anil Trigunayat told Arab News.
“Therefore, it is significant that the meeting has taken place at a time when a joint strategy could be found to counter this grave pandemic and salvage the economy especially the smaller economies and work together in the area of medical research.
“Setting up a united front and creating a corpus to fight the global menace is important. This pandemic can be defeated with the full economic and medical cooperation of the leading economies of the world, who are the main victims.”
Delhi-based foreign policy expert Zakir Hussain appreciated the “initiative” taken by Saudi Arabia in organizing the summit at this stage.
“Saudi Arabia’s economy is greatly linked to the world outside. It has a leadership role to play not only in the Gulf countries but also in the larger world where it can exert its influence in finding a joint solution to a problem which is destabilizing the leading economies of the world,” Hussain told Arab News.
He added: “By calling the virtual summit, Riyadh has demonstrated a new openness which reflects the Kingdom’s urge for stability not only in the Gulf region but also in the world outside.”