Hiroshima’s glitz, Kazan’s substance: A tale of two summits

In midst of media frenzy surrounding Hiroshima, geopolitical implications discussed at low-key KazanForum paints a contrasting picture of global engagement

| Updated: 24 May, 2023 7:36 pm IST
KazanForum boasted businessmen and interests from around 80 countries

Indian media throbbed with the G7 at Hiroshima throughout last week. Some of it continues even now. PM Modi – never the one to dishearten those that long for optics – provided the much-anticipated buzz that the press needed. From Joe Biden wanting an autograph to the hangover meet in Sydney Australia, the domestic base that is still smarting after the disastrous Karnataka results must have found a few reasons to feel proud once again.

For the more discerning audience looking beyond the razzle-dazzle, PM Modi hit a six out of the park during his chat with (Ukraine President Volodymyr) Zelenskyy (the most important sixer perhaps) when he bluntly eliminated the latter trying to pull him into a game that he wasn’t keen on playing. He made it clear that the concern that faced India with respect to the Ukraine conflict predicated itself on humanity – it had no political or economic dimensions. That did not leave much space for Zelenskyy to prolong the conversation.

Nonetheless, Hiroshima was a flashy display – an archaic, racism-smeared colonial proxy show from a leader that continues clinging on to its status solely because of its currency. This is the place that the US bombed in 1945, an act of nuclear genocide that left close to 1.5 lakh, dead men and women – mostly civilians. Some vaporised instantaneously, some died owing to nuclear burns and radiation. Not content with that, they dropped another one a couple of days later, in Nagasaki. Number of dead: around 50 thousand.

The USA demonstrated as early as the mid-20th century through massacring approximately two lakh people that civilian lives did not matter, especially if they were not Americans, and this form of racism has remained an inherent part of US engagement with the rest of the world – whether in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan or Yugoslavia.

Add to this American evangelist delusion of ‘bombing you to liberate you’, the choice of a once-nuked city for a so-called “conference for a better future”, where the plan was to essentially sanction and contain countries that did not toe the US line, and you get the picture.

The G7 communique, released by the White House, reads: “We, the Leaders of the Group of Seven (G7), met in Hiroshima for our annual Summit on May 19-21, 2023, more united than ever in our determination to meet the global challenges of this moment and set the course for a better future”. Anyone wondering how one might go about setting the course for a better future needs to read the very first point: “We are taking concrete steps to support Ukraine for as long as it takes in the face of Russia’s illegal war of aggression”.

In effect, as a Strategic Culture piece notes: “The US-led G7 camarilla also made their hate fest a forum… held a de facto war summit in Hiroshima, a place that is synonymous with the horror and evil of war”. Quoting further, from the same piece: “The proceedings began with a cynical and disingenuous “dedication” at the Hiroshima Peace Park, whose centrepiece is the Genbaku Dome, the iconic spectral ruin caused by the US atomic bombing in 1945. The very gathering of leaders at this sacred place is the same people who are criminally pushing the world towards another conflagration”.

If one considered that the UK, which just supplied depleted uranium to Ukraine (which was blown up by a Russian strike, and the radioactive cloud of which slowly appears to be moving towards West Europe), was also a part of this dedication at Genbaku, one would be at a loss to comprehend the shallowness of the farce known as the G7.

What did the domestic media miss? Two summits took place at roughly the same period: the Russia-Islamic World KazanForum at Kazan, Russia, and the China-Central Asia Summit in Xian. The latter did find a fleeting mention in a couple of mainstream dailies, so let us skip that and consider the low-key KazanForum (where India participated).

The KazanForum boasted businessmen and interests from around 80 countries – a status boost for Russia, especially after being an integral part of the Arab League Summit and a re-inclusion of Syria in the Arab fold. Among the key discussions, one that caught my attention was when First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov spoke about the North-South transport corridor. “The project involves the creation of the largest transport highway with a length of 6 to 8 thousand km, which connects the European part of Russia and the exit to the Persian Gulf… the beneficiaries of this project are a wider range of countries. These are the countries of the Persian Gulf, India, China, the countries of Southeast Asia, Pakistan and many others”.

The robustness of KazanForum becomes visible when one compares it with the G7 communiqué. While the latter remains cluttered with ambiguities like ‘undiminished security’, ‘resilient global economy’, ‘sustainable development’ etc, the KazanForum keeps focused on the here and now. There are two areas of interest in particular:
1) There were discussions and deliberations on skill building, international competencies, and joint educational programs, while the “participants of the section from India, Indonesia, and the Republic of Bangladesh voiced promising industries and areas of cooperation (tourism, oil, pharmaceutical industry, science and technology)”.
2) Health-net Digitalization of Healthcare, where there were a host of tangible points, like creating a reliable and secure digital healthcare infrastructure, providing digital services for citizens, including telemedicine, big data analysis, or creating data centres for processing the results of various medical research that were paid special attention to.

PM Modi did the right thing by luring the media behind him and providing the needed weight to Hiroshima at a time when Bakhmut/Artemovsk got run over by Wagner. Besides, there is also the factor of his tour to the USA; Joe Biden might be unpopular back home, but he remains the President, and India is still heavily dependent on the USA for a large number of reasons.

In conclusion, I would leave you with the official links to both Hiroshima and Kazan. Read them to understand why business is quickly slipping from the clutches of what Pepe Escobar calls “the Empire of Chaos”.

Hiroshima:https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2023/05/20/g7-hiroshima-leaders-communique/
Kazan: https://kazanforum.ru/en/program/

Arindam Mukherjee is a geopolitical analyst and the author of JourneyDog Tales, The Puppeteer, and A Matter of Greed
Disclaimer: Views expressed are the author’s own

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