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Making a reality of the G-20 theme

India has selected the theme of ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’ (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam) as the theme for the G-20 for next year, the year of India’s presidency of this important group of nations which accounts for 85 per cent of the world’s GDP, 75 per cent of trade and 66 per cent of its population. Without any doubt, this is a very noble theme, particularly when seen in the context of the most serious problems the world faces today.

BHARAT DOGRA | New Delhi |

India has selected the theme of ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’ (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam) as the theme for the G-20 for next year, the year of India’s presidency of this important group of nations which accounts for 85 per cent of the world’s GDP, 75 per cent of trade and 66 per cent of its population. Without any doubt, this is a very noble theme, particularly when seen in the context of the most serious problems the world faces today.

The concept of one earth has been most often discussed in the context of the very serious environmental crisis. While climate change has become the most debated issue, more so now due to COP 27, the reality is that there are about a dozen or so closely interrelated environmental problems that have the potential to endanger the life-nurturing conditions of our planet.

These come with tipping points in the sense that if unchecked, some of these can spiral out of control. This is a question of only a very a few decades now, so time is really running out. In this context the concept of one earth informs and reminds us that there is only one planet that is inhabited by people of all nations, ethnicities, and faiths; we all will be endangered badly if its life-nurturing capacity begins to be disrupted. It is thus the common responsibility of all people to take urgent steps to avert such a catastrophic situation.

However, those who are most responsible for creating this dangerous situation, and who co-incidentally is the richest today in terms of resources, must share the most responsibility and must contribute the most for this. This would be a justice-based approach to resolving the most urgent problems. This brings us to another important aspect of the noble theme of ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’ – that of justice and equality. Integral to this theme is the idea that all people of this planet are equal and must be treated as equals.

They all must be able to meet their basic needs in conditions of dignity and there must be no discrimination on the basis of faith, race, class, caste, colour, nation, region, gender, etc. Unfortunately, the real world is very far from this reality and in some contexts, the situation is even worsening. Economic inequality is very high at various levels, internationally and nationally.

Discrimination on the basis of various social identities still remains high and sometimes takes new, more subtle but nevertheless serious forms. About one-third of the world’s people are unable to meet their basic needs, and this number is much higher in places where the environmental crisis and conflicts are more acute, with millions on the verge of starvation. Conflict and war are in fact the biggest threat to the concept of One Earth.

The worst and most dangerous aspect of this threat relates to the accumulation of highly dangerous weapons, including weapons of mass destruction (nuclear weapons and others) whose existing stocks can destroy most life forms several times over.

This year the threat of the use of these WMDs has increased compared to previous years due to the rapid escalation of tensions between the USA and Russia over the Ukraine conflict, creating a very dangerous situation for the safety of humankind and other life forms on earth as these two powers have 90 per cent of all existing atomic weapons in the world.

In addition, there is the possibility of a nuclear conflict between other countries as well. There are many ongoing conflicts in the world that have caused enormous destruction and have led to the aggravation of mass hunger already being caused by disasters like prolonged droughts and highly destructive floods.

Clearly, these conflicts as well as the most serious threat of nuclear weapons conflict constitute the biggest challenge to any noble efforts which seek to guide the world on the theme of ‘one earth, one family, one future.’ This theme should above all emphasise the urgency of world peace with its most crucial manifestation being the search for a future without wars and without the most dangerous weapons (elimination of WMDs).

It is in the context of these serious problems that the selection of this theme for the year of India’s presidency of G-20 should be welcomed. At the very least, this theme will continue to remind the eminent representatives of G-20 countries and regions of the most important real challenges and responsibilities our deeply troubled world faces at this critical juncture of its history.

However, it is important to go beyond such a minimal role of this theme. In fact, this theme can be the focal point around which several important initiatives relating to environment protection, equality, and justice, peace, and disarmament can be initiated by G-20 in the near future. This more active pursuit of the noble theme of ‘one earth, one family, one future’ is what will be looked forward to with more hope in the coming days.