India's External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar with Manoj Ladwa, Founder and Chairman, India Global Forum Image Credit: Supplied

At the beginning of 2023, I spent three months in New Delhi for India Global Forum’s Annual Summit. My days were a whirlwind of interactions with various embassies, High Commissions, and international businesses in the national capital. Their overwhelming sentiment, as I discovered firsthand, was an eagerness to align with and contribute to India's unfolding growth trajectory, and an unmistakeable acknowledgement of the pivotal role India plays in the global arena.

For those new to the India Growth Story, the flurry of international interest may appear odd and somewhat out of character, but for those who keep an eye on India, this is hardly a surprise.

Historically, India’s foreign policy has often been guided by the principles of non-alignment. However, the phrase ‘non-alignment’ projects a certain level of passivity, and far from it, there is nothing passive about the Narendra Modi government’s assertive moves in the foreign policy theatre of late. A key component of that has been taking the initiative early on, and steering the course of global dialogue and action towards collaboration and mutual progress. So often at the heart of many recent efforts to pull the world together, we find India.

Having set the G20 Agenda of One Earth, One Family, One Future – India is showing a commitment to these ideals with actions as well as with words.

Consider the Global Biofuels Alliance, spearheaded by India, which has brought together 19 countries and 12 international organizations – including the World Economic Forum, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank – to expand the use of biofuels and take steps to phase out fossil fuels. This initiative not only demonstrated India’s climate leadership, but also its commitment to achieving global net zero goals.

Consider India’s steadfast support for the addition of the African Union to the G20. The inclusion of the 55-nation continent – historically underrepresented and marginalised - into the powerful intergovernmental forum during India’s Presidency showed that India’s pledge to reshape the global landscape in a more inclusive and equitable manner was not mere rhetoric, but something it was willing to walk the walk on.

India's approach to these multilateral initiatives hasn’t been merely about participation—it's about assuming leadership roles, driving discussions, and spearheading transformative changes.

If we are to focus on these specific examples, no recent initiative is as ambitious as the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEEC), which aims to deliver a groundbreaking boost to connectivity and economic integration between Asia, the Persian Gulf and Europe. It is without doubt an innovative initiative with a vision that extends far beyond trade; it represents a paradigm shift in regional cooperation.

In the case of IMEEC, India stands to be the starting point of a dynamic new trade route – a 21st century rendition of the ancient Silk Road - through several countries whose commitment to cooperation would previously have been unthinkable.

Recent developments in the Middle East of course demonstrate that geopolitical complications can always arise. But here again, India can be a vital diplomatic lynchpin, using the carrot of rapid growth in trade and development that the IMEEC corridor offers to calm tensions in the region, and help keep the eyes of its key players on the prize.

And what a prize it is!

The planned transport infrastructure alone would make trade between India and Europe 40 per cent faster. Then there are the benefits in clean energy, food security, the linking of innovative digital ecosystems and a diversification and strengthening of supply chains.

It's in this context that India Global Form emerges as a crucial platform. In essence, India Global Forum isn't just an observer of India's global ascent; it's an active participant, contributing significantly to dialogue for global partnerships, and amplifying India’s global imprint. It is a catalyst to unlocking opportunities and a gateway for businesses and nations to help seize India’s growth story.

The author is a Programme Manager at India Global Forum. India Global Forum’s Middle East and Africa 2023: Unleashing Ambitions will be held from 26-29 Nov in Dubai. To know more, visit www.indiaglobalforum.com