India holds the Group of 20 (G20) presidency from 1 December 2022 – 30 November 2023, after swapping it with Indonesia in 2022, and the 18th edition of the Leaders’ Summit is going to be organised on 9-10 September 2023 in New Delhi. Around thirty heads of states and governments from the member and invited countries are expected to attend the event. In the run-up to this mega-event, the Government of India (GoI) is hosting 200 meetings across 32 different workstreams round the year in over 50 cities. Preparations by the GoI for organising the year-long series of G20 events have been spectacular on multiple counts.
Firstly, what is in public display is the self-congratulatory claim of India as the ‘Mother of Democracy, a phrase that complements the current ruling regime’s another audacious vision, India as the “Vishwaguru” (Teacher of the world). The GoI has left no stone unturned to make an advertisement blitz around the G20 presidency at the expense of taxpayers’ money. Paintings and graffiti with the G20 India logo accompanied by images of the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in all public spaces and transport present a classic example of public relations marketing. Secondly, the entire country witnessed the demolition drives and forced evictions of thousands of vulnerable communities from their living spaces in cities where the G20 events are being hosted. As a public hearing report on these stories of displacement noted, the ruination of the urban poor and the marginalised people has been done in the name of “beautification drives” or “clearing of encroachments” or “protection of monuments” or similar pretexts.
Given this extravagant image-building exercise at the cost of taxpayers’ money and livelihoods of vulnerable people, it is pertinent to take stock of things and ask: what has happened so far? This paper thus looks at the journey of G20 under India’s presidency, followed by a brief analysis of the outcomes of different workstreams.
Read the full paper here: G20 in India – the story so far