Sporting Rajasthani turbans, G20 sherpas brainstorm on SDG, green growth

UDAIPUR: In the serenity of a lakeside luxe hotel in backdrop of the iconic City Palace, sherpas (senior officials) from G20 countries and international organisations brainstormed to infuse new ideas and initiatives into India’s presidency of the influential multilateral grouping.

It wasn’t just serious talk, but sherpas attending the meeting also got a taste of “Incredible India” as they were serenaded with Rajasthani folk songs, dance, art and colourful turbans.

The 1st Sherpa Meeting of India’s G20 Presidency kicked off on December 4 with colour and pageantry as delegates were treated to an exhibit of Jal Sanjhi art, a Desert Music Symphony, and various cultural performances through the day.  A side event on ‘Sustainable Development Goals: Transforming Lives at the Midpoint of the 2030 Agenda’ was organised which focused on accelerating completing SDG targets, one of major priorities of India’s G20 presidency.

The next day (on December 5) substantive discussions on five key focus areas of India’s G20 Presidency were held. In addition to the first two sessions on ‘Technological Transformation’ and ‘Green Development and Lifestyle for Environment (LIFE)’, a dialogue on ‘Global & Regional Economy: Prospects & Challenges’ and an informal ‘Chai pe Charcha’ among G20 member countries was held.

Addressing the delegates, India’s G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant provided a big-picture overview of India’s G20 priorities across 13 Working Groups. Mr Kant highlighted India’s role in providing a greater voice to the Global South, and harnessing its G20 Chairship to forge win-win collaborations between developing countries and advanced economies. Mr Ajay Seth, Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, outlined key economic challenges facing the world today, and highlighted the need for collective efforts by the G20 to respond to them.

Harnessing the power of technology and accelerating digitisation for global public good featured prominently in discussions. Delegates from G20 countries and guest invitees spoke about leveraging the power of technology through multiple pathways and underlined the importance of cyber security, inclusivity in expanding access to technological services and infrastructure, and digital skilling.

The session on ‘Green Development and Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE),’ focused on forging effective strategies to collectively combat climate change. Fast-tracking just green and energy transitions was discussed, with India’s G20 Sherpa highlighting the necessity of galvanizing collective action towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Cultural Diplomacy

The sherpas’ meeting was suffused with India’s fabled soft power, with Hotel Taj Fateh Praksh exuding elegance and cuisine curated to give a taste of India to the delegates. On Day 2, the show-stealer was a trip to the historic Manek Chowk in Udaipur where G20 Sherpas gathered in exuberant Rajastani attire of jackets, Safas/Turban and stoles. Delegates were delighted to meet the world’s longest turban binder, Pawan Vyas, who tied nearly half a kilometre of cloth in 30 minutes without using a single hairpin in 2020.

Dinner at the magical Jagmandir, the iconic place for banquets and weddings located on an island in Lake Pichola, along with a fusion of Meera bhajans and Sufiana kalams,  topped a day of serious discussions and cultural bonding.

The first meeting of sherpas under India’s G20 presidency in the lake city of Udaipur has provided a window to Indian culture and boost local economy, said Muktesh Pradeshi, Officer on Special Duty in charge of operations for India’s G20 presidency.  “G20 events hosted in different parts of India will contribute to the local economy. This will lead to recovery in the tourism sector,” said Mr Pradeshi.

Author Profile

Manish Chand
Manish Chand
Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network ( and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.