The Year That Was

A quick recap of the events of 2023 which will have resonance in the new year

Mohammad Asif Khan



Quad: The Quad Leaders Summit 2023, held in Hiroshima, Japan on May 20, emphasised cooperation in several key areas for the Indo-Pacific region. Leaders reaffirmed their commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, prioritising maritime security with collaborative efforts on maritime domain awareness and capacity-building.


The summit focused on several key areas of collaboration, with maritime security taking centre stage. The four leaders reaffirmed their commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, emphasising the importance of freedom of navigation and overflight. They also discussed ways to cooperate on maritime domain awareness and capacity-building to ensure a stable and secure maritime environment.

The Quad members engaged in discussions on emerging technologies. Recognising the growing importance of these technologies for national security and economic development, they agreed to work together on research and development, as well as to establish common standards and frameworks.


Shanghai Cooperation Organisation: In July 2023, India took centre stage at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit, reaffirming its commitment to regional security and collaboration. Leaders from member nations, including China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, gathered alongside observer states like Iran, Belarus and Mongolia.

As the rotating SCO president for the first time in 2023, India showcased its growing influence within the organisation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi led discussions on critical issues like regional security, counterterrorism, economic cooperation and cultural exchange.

A landmark achievement of the summit was Iran's official accession as the ninth SCO member state. This expansion signifies the organisation's growing regional importance and potential to strengthen ties between member nations.

India used the platform to advocate for its initiatives and priorities, highlighting the SECURE acronym as the guiding principle for SCO. This stands for:

  • Security: Addressing common security challenges and promoting regional stability.
  • Economic development: Fostering regional economic cooperation and integration.
  • Connectivity: Enhancing regional connectivity through infrastructure development and trade facilitation.
  • Unity: Strengthening cultural and people-to-people ties between member states.


BRICS: The 15th BRICS Summit was held in Johannesburg, South Africa from 22-24 August 2023. At the summit, leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa agreed to welcome six new members: Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. This expansion, the first since 2010, represents a major shift in the group’s dynamics and has the potential to reshape the global power landscape.

While the official theme focused on ‘BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Mutually Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development, and Inclusive Multilateralism,’ the most impactful outcome was the decision to expand the bloc.


G20: In September 2023, India hosted the G20 summit in New Delhi, focusing on global recovery from the pandemic, tackling climate change, and embracing digital transformation. Leaders from the world's twenty major economies gathered to discuss these critical issues and forge a path towards a more sustainable and equitable future.

The summit prioritised global economic recovery, aiming to address the ongoing challenges of pandemic-induced supply chain disruptions and rising inflation. Sustainable and inclusive growth was emphasised, with leaders focusing on areas like green finance and digitalisation. India showcased its initiatives in these areas, such as the self-reliance program and the digitalisation campaign.

Rajnath Singh

Climate change emerged as a crucial concern, prompting leaders to acknowledge the urgency of action. Reaffirming their commitment to the Paris Agreement, they discussed concrete steps to reduce emissions and transition to clean energy sources. India, despite its reliance on fossil fuels, pledged to achieve net-zero emissions and highlighted its efforts in renewable energy development.

Recognising the transformative potential of digital technologies, leaders discussed ways to leverage them for inclusive growth and development. Digital infrastructure development, bridging the digital divide and promoting responsible use of technology were key areas of focus. India, with its rapidly growing digital economy, showcased its achievements in digital inclusion and emphasised the need for global cooperation.

The summit delivered significant outcomes, including the G20 New Delhi Leaders' Declaration outlining key decisions and commitments, a Global Action Plan for Green Finance mobilising green investments and a Declaration on Responsible AI for the Social Good promoting the ethical use of artificial intelligence. Leaders agreed to work together on digital economy issues like infrastructure, e-commerce and taxation.

APEC: The 2023 APEC summit, held in San Francisco, California, from November 11-17, focused on building a resilient and sustainable future for the Asia-Pacific region. 21 member economies participated in discussions aimed at tackling critical challenges and fostering collaboration across key areas.

Open and free trade emerged as a top priority, with the summit emphasising the dismantling of trade barriers and the facilitation of goods and services flow. Leveraging the transformative potential of digital technology was another central theme. Member economies discussed bridging the digital divide and utilising technology for inclusive growth. India, a participant known for its ambitious Digital India program, presented its initiatives as potential models for other economies in the region.

The summit addressed the region's vulnerability to climate change. Collaborative action to mitigate its impacts and build a more sustainable future was emphasised. Member economies, including India with its renewable energy targets and International Solar Alliance initiative, showcased their efforts in this regard.

Prime Minister Modi with Biden

Prime Minister’s Visits: In 2023, Prime Minister Modi undertook two significant international visits, one to the United States in June and another to France in July. Both aimed to strengthen India's strategic partnerships and address key global issues.

The June visit to the US saw Modi meet President Biden and address Congress. Discussions focused on bilateral relations, Indo-Pacific security and global challenges. The Quad Leaders Summit further strengthened ties with the US, Australia and Japan regarding regional security and cooperation. The visit yielded agreements on clean energy, defence cooperation and space exploration, elevating India's global profile as a major international player.

Modi’s visit to France in July deepened bilateral cooperation in defence, maritime security and cybersecurity. Notably, multi-billion dollar deals were signed for Rafale fighter jets and Scorpene submarines. Attending the Bastille Day celebrations as chief guest solidified Franco-Indian relations and showcased India’s growing influence in Europe.


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