G20 Summit to reflect India’s soft power, modern face; delegates to taste regional cuisine

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NEW DELHI: India is planning to showcase its rich culture and diversity during its presidency of G20, through the means of cuisine, crafts, and culture along with an insight into its democratic roots and its progress made in the digital space.

India is all set to host the G20 Summit scheduled to be held in New Delhi from September 9-10. World leaders will arrive in New Delhi to attend the G20 Summit.

Muktesh Pardeshi, who is the Special Secretary and the head of operations and logistics of India’s G20 secretariat, in an exclusive interview with ANI said that New Delhi is geared up with its preparations for the summit.

Speaking to ANI, Muktesh Pardeshi said, “We are 10 days away from the event, an event we have been preparing from Day 1. We took over the presidency of G20 on December 1 last year, and since then we have been preparing for this mega event, the Leader’s Summit…G20 comprises 19 countries and the European Union. Plus, we have given special invitations to nine more countries and some international organisations. There will be approximately 40 plus delegations that will arrive at the leader’s level.”

“So, we will have Presidents, Prime Ministers, Foreign Ministers and top officials of different delegations, representing different countries. We are gearing up, we are giving final shape to the programme,” he added.

The Special Secretary said that New Delhi has a twin agenda to showcase Indian culture, crafts and cuisine. He added that an experience panel has been created for delegates to experience how UPI payments are made, how the CoWin app was developed and how 1 billion people were connected with Aadhar.

“That’s part of you have seen the G20 meetings focusing on three C’s. But there is one unmistakable aspect of our approach. We are going to showcase progress in the field of the digital sector. So there’ll be an…experience zone created to showcase the progress we have achieved in the field of technological transformation, particularly digital transformation,” he said.

Pardeshi added, “There will be some experience panels created for delegates to experience, for instance how UPI payment is done. People will get to know about biometric enrolment was done and 1 billion people were connected through Aadhar. How the CoWin app was developed. Not everybody is able to understand how India has been able to leapfrog in the sector of digital payment. So we want to showcase the modern face of India as well”.

He also informed that the catering at the Convention Centre is being done by the ITC and there is a lot of focus on cuisine, menu planning as well and service aspects.

“The catering at the Convention Centre is done by the ITC which is a leading hotel chain. They have created a large team comprising of shapes and other associates to not only have the menu ready but also the service experience impeccable. So there’s a lot of focus on both the cuisine, the menu planning as well as the service aspect. And we have selected one of the best hotel chains for the purpose you want them to explore the street food of India,” he said.

Muktesh Pardeshi said that the G20 Summit will have three sessions and all these sessions will be held around the theme of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam. He said that India will hand over the G20 Presidency to Brazil in the concluding session on December 10.

“There’ll be three sessions and all the sessions will be around the theme of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam which in English is transcribed as One Earth, One Family and One Future. The leaders are allocated a certain time to speak about their country’s position. On the 10th, in the concluding session, there’ll be a symbolic handing over of the Presidency to the incoming Presidency which will be led by Brazil. So, in between leaders get some time and opportunity to interact with each other what we call bilateral meetings. So that’s the responsibility of the host country to provide meeting space and provide logistical support so that leaders can meet,”  Pardeshi said.

He added, “These leaders will also call on as, depending on the availability of time of honourable Prime Minister. Some of them will also have bilateral meetings with our Prime Minister. So, broadly this is the essence of the program.”

Pardeshi further informed that an exhibition named ‘Bharat, the Mother of Democracy’ is being organised to show the roots of Democracy in India.

“There is another aspect of showcasing India. Not many people know that the democratic roots or democracy is a concept of participatory governance. The roots are here and thousands of years back there were concepts of Sabha and Samiti. So democracy has not come from outside. It has evolved over a period of time in Indian soil. So there is going to be an exhibition called Bharat, the Mother of Democracy,” he further said.

Pardeshi also informed about the ceremonial aspects and said that the leaders will pay respect to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat and a symbolic tree plantation will also take place in Bharat Mandapam.

“There are some ceremonial aspects, and one of them is visiting and paying respect to the Father of the Nation. The leaders will be visiting Rajghat, which is part of the ceremonial aspect. Usually, any visiting head of state or government goes to Rajghat. There will be a symbolic tree plantation event at the Bharat Mandapam. These tree saplings represent different countries. They are either national trees or native trees, or trees that reflect nature or cultural aspects of the country,” he said.

Talking about the arrangements for cultural events and programmes, Muktesh Pardeshi said that a gala dinner will be organised on September 9, which will be accompanied by a small cultural programme.

“On the 9th, there will be a gala dinner, and as part of the gala dinner, there will be a short cultural programme, mostly the musical programme, including young artists. They will play instrumental music before the leaders. But beyond that, we will also have a Craft Bazaar, showcasing crafts from different states, which will take place in hall no. 3. It will open as an exhibition as well as a shopping experience. The delegates will have some opportunity to visit the Craft bazaar, and do shopping,” he said.

The Special Secretary further said that there will also be separate programmes for the spouses accompanying the leaders.

“They will be taken to Rajghat, Pusa Institute, and as part of the programme, they are also likely to visit the National Gallery of Modern Art, where they will see exhibitions, and also have some kind of shopping experience, which is being specially curated for spouses,” he added.

Pardeshi further informed that a variety of different dishes are being prepared to showcase the regional cuisine of the country, and street foods of India, as well as giving exposure to millets.

“From the government of India, it will be offering meals at the Convention Centre. So, you see a variety of dishes being served. Millet will find a prominent place on the menu. The chefs are working to develop different kinds of regional cuisine. They are experimenting and some menus are being developed at some point in time the decision will be taken,” he said.

He added, “But the overall philosophy is that we should have exposure to street foods of India. We should have exposure to millet. And the delegates should also experience different regional cuisines of India. And also our chefs are experimenting with different kinds of grains, different kinds of vegetables and different kinds of dairy products to come up with very innovative dishes…Delhi itself is a leader in street food. What is being served in Chandni Chowk around some of the things, the Gol Gappe or chat”.

Speaking about the logistical challenge of hosting so many delegations and leaders for the summit, Pardeshi said India has gained a sense of organizational excellence over the last 8-10 months.

“So far the parking of aircraft is concerned, we have ample parking place at New Delhi airport. We have been in touch with the Dial and GMR. The arrangements have been made both at the Palam Technical Area and at Indira Gandhi International Airport. So far as taking care of the logistical aspects is concerned we are a big country, we are resourceful and what we have gained over the last 8-10 months is a sense of organizational excellence,” he said.

He further said that as per the directive from the political leadership, New Delhi has to only promote the G20 substantive agenda, but also showcase to the world that India is not behind any country in terms of organizational skills and logistical strengths.

“That was the directive came from the political leadership. We have to excel not only in promoting the G20 substantive agenda, we have to also showcase to the world that India is not behind any country in terms of organizational skills and logistical strengths. And I think it has been now recognized by all visiting delegations. We have done extremely well to offer our hospitality. All the meetings 200 so far have been error-free. There has been no incident,” he said.

He added, “So we expect the forthcoming G20 summit to also be excellent, in terms of no glitches. We would like to conduct the meeting with a very high sense of warmth, and hospitality, taking care of our guests and at the same time showcasing what India has to offer in terms of civilizational and cultural space as well as an India that is technologically advancing and which has the capacity to make as a developed nation in another 25 years”.

Notably, India assumed the G20 presidency on December 1 last year and about 200 meetings related to G20 were organized in 60 cities across the country.

The 18th G20 Heads of State and Government Summit in New Delhi will be a culmination of all the G20 processes and meetings held throughout the year among ministers, senior officials, and civil societies.

A G20 Leaders’ Declaration will be adopted at the conclusion of the New Delhi Summit, stating Leaders’ commitment towards the priorities discussed and agreed upon during the respective ministerial and working group meetings. (ANI)

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