India is united to make its G20 presidency a great success

By Muktesh Pardeshi

India’s presidency of G20 is a historic event, and Indian citizens of all stripes and persuasions are coming together to ensure that the country succeeds in rallying the world’s most advanced economies to address pressing global challenges,  writes Muktesh Pardeshi

During my travels across India for G20 meetings, spanning from Port Blair in the south to Srinagar in the north, Dimapur in the east to Diu in the west, I have personally witnessed a profound sense of national pride regarding India’s 2023 G20 presidency and its pivotal role in projecting India onto the global stage. The G20 presidency, which has come to India for the first time, is more than just a multilateral diplomatic endeavour; it has evolved into a year-long national undertaking, involving the entire central government, all 36 states and union territories, the parliament, businesses, the hospitality industry, academia, professionals, scientists, cultural groups, media, and, particularly, the youth. In the history of independent India, we have never hosted another year-long event on such a large scale and at the pan-India level. The whole country is unquestionably united in its resolve to rise to this historic opportunity and to ensure the success of India’s G20 leadership.

As the world’s largest democracy and the fifth largest economy, we have significant responsibilities as the head of the current G20 group—an esteemed platform for global economic cooperation. We have already surpassed eight months of our term, which commenced on 1 December 2022. During this time, we have embraced a distinctive approach, pioneered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself in his Mann Ki Baat address, emphasizing the infusion of Jan Bhagidari (people’s participation) into our endeavours. Aligning with this vision, we have taken our presidency to various regions of our country to highlight our regional and cultural strengths. The collaborative efforts of local governments and the wider populace demonstrate our collective commitment to assuming a global leadership role and ensuring its whole-hearted success.

Diplomacy Beyond Delhi

The conduct of diplomacy is generally concentrated in the capital city. In this respect, our approach to the G20 presidency is quite unique and unprecedented.  We have achieved visible success in our mission to engage every Indian citizen as an active participant in India’s G20 process. A notable recent initiative in this regard is the Ministry of Education’s extensive series of events—including workshops, exhibitions, seminars, and conferences—held between 1-15 June 2023 at the state, district, block, Panchayat, and school levels.

These events aimed to raise awareness and involve individuals from all segments of the population in G20-related activities. This initiative alone witnessed an impressive participation of over 15.3 million people, comprising 11.9 million students, 1.39 million teachers from about half-a-million schools, and 1.95 million individuals from various communities. This unprecedented level of engagement reflects a strong interest and enthusiasm among the masses, serving as an excellent example of integrating diplomacy and global affairs into people’s daily lives.

Similarly, at a smaller scale, various stakeholders such as museum staff, tourist guides, and cab drivers have become integral contributors to a dedicated ecosystem focused on showcasing India’s cultural diversity and rich heritage to visitors. Each individual has recognized the significance of these efforts in establishing India as a preferred tourism destination. The three meetings of the Tourism Working Group, held under our presidency, have covered significant locations such as Rann of Kutch, Darjeeling, and Srinagar, with the concluding Ministerial Meeting scheduled to take place along the serene Konkan coast in Goa in late June. These events bring optimism and cheer to local small-scale businesses and practitioners of traditional arts and crafts. Diplomacy becomes a true means of national development and collective well-being.

 Engaging Young Minds

 Our efforts to engage the youth, particularly those attending universities and colleges, have yielded tremendous success through the G20 University Connect initiative. Designed as a series of on-campus lectures delivered by academics, former diplomats, and subject matter experts, this initiative aims to interact with young students and cultivate their interest in G20-related matters. These events encompass a range of activities: lectures, model G20 simulations, essay competitions, and interactive sessions. In my personal interactions with students from various colleges over the past months, I have been truly impressed by the abundance of ideas and perspectives they shared regarding India’s growing global prominence and the accompanying responsibilities. The enthusiasm and self-assurance exhibited by our motivated younger generation indicate their potential to make a positive impact on the success of our G20 responsibility.

 A National Endeavour 

 The enthusiasm surrounding India’s G20 stewardship extends beyond a few cities; it encompasses a wide geographic and demographic range. Firstly, the meetings have been held in over 50 cities, spanning nearly every state and union territory in the country. Secondly, these meetings go beyond the participation of bureaucrats and diplomats alone. Each meeting venue serves as an opportunity to showcase our vibrant culture, traditional crafts, and technological advancements through exhibitions and immersive experiences. These initiatives actively involve our artisans, craftsmen, and startup entrepreneurs, enabling them to exhibit their cultural artifacts and innovative creations in front of a global audience.

The successful hosting of each meeting necessitates extensive coordination at multiple levels, requiring a comprehensive whole-of-government approach. This approach entails collaborative planning and execution of various aspects such as infrastructure, logistics, security, and medical facilities, for which actors from state governments, municipalities, and the central government must work in unison with each other.

An Active and Decisive Presidency

In the first half of our year-long presidency, we have conducted 125 meetings out of the scheduled 230 across 60 cities (by the end of May 2023). These meetings have seen active participation from over 15,500 delegates. Notably, several significant outcomes have been achieved during these six months, including the unanimous adoption of an Action Plan on Accelerating Progress on the Sustainable Development Goals and the G20 High-Level Principles on Lifestyles for Sustainable Development at the Varanasi Development Ministers’ Meeting. Furthermore, the ethos of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”—embracing the world as one family—has been widely disseminated. Our unity in diversity serves as a defining characteristic as India takes on a larger global leadership role. The collective effort of the entire nation in showcasing our strength and unity will undoubtedly be one of the hallmarks of our G20 presidency as we embark upon Amrit Kaal—the period of 25 years leading to the centenary of India’s Independence in 2047.

(Ambassador Muktesh Pardeshi is currently special secretary in India’s G20 Presidency Secretariat. In a diplomatic career spanning over three decades, he has served as India’s ambassador to Mexico, high commissioner to New Zealand, and chief passport officer. Views are personal. )

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