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How the G20 presidency brought India and Bharat together

On December 1, 2022, India assumed the presidency of the G20 with the call of “One Earth, One Family, One Future”. This motto aligns with our civilisational ethos and the idea of vasudhaiva kutumbakam (the world is one family). It is substantiated by the fact that we now live in an increasingly interconnected world, where an event in one region causes ripples across the world. Multilateral organisations like the G20 are crucial for addressing global challenges that no nation can tackle alone. G20, as a forum for the world’s largest economies, provides a platform for cooperation and collaboration to create a more sustainable, prosperous, and equitable future for all.

India’s presidency of the G20 has adopted a different take on its global partnership and cooperation model. With India at its helm, it is no longer the Global North setting the narrative for the world at large, but the Global South reaffirming its ambitions on issues that determine the world’s fate: Economy, energy, climate and culture. It is no longer a defunct top-down diplomacy but a bottom-up citizen-centric model of jan-bhagidari, touted as a new diplomatic tool during India’s presidency. It is one of the key focuses of India’s presidency and a major success. Not only have we, the people, come to realise the meaning of vasudhaiva kutumbakam, but we have truly realised its essence. The idea of jan-bhagidari is not restricted to public participation. It puts people-centric solutions at the forefront, emphasising indigenous knowledge systems and solution-oriented actions. With the massive outreach done in the past year by several G20 members and its engagement groups across India’s small towns and cities, we have managed to put global issues in a local perspective and transport local ideas to the global town hall.

The Y20 group organised one such outreach programme by conducting more than 400 Y20 chaupals across universities, colleges and schools across the country — from the far-flung villages and towns of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland to Kashmir. On one hand, the glocalisation of global issues has led to the youth’s participation across India, and on the other, meetings and summits of the various G20 engagement groups taking place across the length and breadth of India have sensitised the global community to the fact that there is an India beyond New Delhi and Mumbai. This has truly built a bridge that has brought India and Bharat together at the same time on the world stage.

In the post-colonial world, the essence and value of the concept of the welfare state became very important in India, part of whose heritage are the concepts of antyodaya (welfare of those on the lowest rungs of society) and sarvodaya (universal upliftment). Therefore, this G20 summit in India was not just an event for the 20 most significant economies of the world. It was transformed into a large-scale social movement by widening the public sphere of the summit. Participants from different sections of society engaged with critical G20 themes like gender, health, start-ups, civil societies, and science. Even places like Papum Pare, Tawang, Rajouri etc, which are often not given the opportunity to actively participate in policy formulation discourse, were covered under the nationwide movement of India’s G20 presidency. The presidency and ongoing G20 summit give India an excellent opportunity to promote these ideas and conceptual understanding of equality and sustainable development, which is deeply embedded in the culture and historical experience of the Global South. The Indian government’s aim is to carry forward developmental activities and state action in a direction that allows for the holistic development of all citizens.

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Another important segment that had massive outreach was Labour20. It deliberated upon issues of security universalisation, portability of social security funds, and social protection for informal workers and the future of women in the workforce. All the major trade unions — NFITU, TUCC, INTUC — have come together, with the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh leading the segment, to work in a collaborative way to structure a mechanism and address the issues of social security funds and women’s workforce. Labour20 programmes covered various cross-sections of the workforce from sanitation to beedi and uranium mines workers. A federation of domestic workers were also active participants. Labour20 has ensured the dissemination of its themes far and wide. Gig workers from rural and urban areas were included. Labour20 was woven around women-centric activities to create women-led economies and several events saw participation of over 5,000 women.

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During the G20 events hosted across India, “village haats” were organised to promote locally-sourced products, and to showcase the region’s cultural and developmental accomplishments. One such instance was at the L20 summit in Patna. Local artists organised handicraft stalls from bawan buti to carpet weaving. Greater emphasis on the promotion of indigenous knowledge and folk culture was laid, with a commitment to bolster women-led developmental initiatives, aimed at nurturing economic expansion and fostering gender empowerment within the region.

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G20 events have contributed both in infrastructural, informational and institutional development in different parts of the country. They have brought together not only civil society but also self-help groups, small rural initiatives and local action groups hitherto delinked to global dialogue and narratives. They have contributed to the economic mobility of various social groups by providing economic opportunities, constructing a framework, and preserving cultural and historical memories of society.

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The writer is assistant professor, Department of Sociology, Lakshmibai College, University of Delhi. She is the Track Chair for Y20 and an expert with L20

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