18th G20 Summit: Highlights from Day 1
India’s national capital hosted the first day of the G20 summit, which was marked by diplomatic achievements and significant announcements. Global leaders gathered at the Bharat Mandapam, where discussions ranged from historical agreements to global initiatives took place.
Konark Wheel: Symbol of Welcome
The day began with a symbolic gesture as a replica of the Konark Wheel, inspired by the Sun temple in Odisha’s Puri, served as the backdrop for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s welcoming handshake with G20 leaders. This ancient wheel, built during the 13th century, embodies India’s rich heritage, advanced civilization, and architectural prowess. PM Modi explained the significance of this cultural emblem to US President Joe Biden upon his arrival.
“Bharat” Takes Precedence
India made a statement about its name by using “Bharat” instead of “India” on the nameplate behind Prime Minister Modi during the G20 summit. This shift towards “Bharat” reflects a broader trend in the country to emphasize its traditional name. It was further underscored when the G20 dinner invitation referred to the President as the President of “Bharat.” “India” also serves as the acronym for the newly formed opposition bloc, the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA).
Adoption of New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration
India’s presidency achieved a significant milestone by garnering consensus among G20 nations on the Ukraine conflict. This consensus led to the adoption of the New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration. PM Modi lauded this accomplishment, highlighting the rigorous negotiations that took place over 150 hours with member states, including China and Russia. The declaration does not explicitly condemn Russia but emphasizes the principles of international law, territorial integrity, and peace.
Call for Peace in Ukraine
The G20 nations, through their consensus declaration, called for peace in Ukraine. While refraining from condemning Russia, the declaration urged all states to uphold international law, territorial integrity, sovereignty, and humanitarian principles. It also emphasized the inadmissibility of the use or threat of nuclear weapons. The declaration received mixed reactions, with Ukraine’s foreign ministry expressing disappointment.
100% Consensus on All Issues
Amitabh Kant, the G20 Sherpa, described the New Delhi Declaration as “historical and path-breaking” and highlighted India’s achievement of a “100 per cent” consensus on developmental and geopolitical issues. The declaration focuses on strong, sustainable, balanced, and inclusive growth, with an emphasis on progress toward sustainable development goals. Kant also noted that this presidency was the most ambitious in the history of G20 presidencies.
Ambitious Connectivity Corridor
Plans for an ambitious India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor were unveiled, aiming to rival China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This initiative, supported by India, the US, Saudi Arabia, the European Union, and the United Arab Emirates, aims to connect railways, ports, electricity and data networks, and hydrogen pipelines. PM Modi emphasized India’s commitment to expanding connectivity beyond regional borders, and President Biden hailed it as a significant development.
African Union’s Permanent G20 Membership
The African Union officially became a permanent member of the G20 during the summit’s first day. This marks the first expansion of the influential bloc since its establishment in 1999. PM Modi’s strong advocacy for the African Union’s inclusion reflects India’s efforts to bridge the gap between the Global South and the West.
Global Biofuel Alliance and Environmental Initiatives
During the second session, India launched the Global Biofuel Alliance and called on G20 nations to join. The initiative aims to promote ethanol blending with petrol globally, with a target of 20 percent. This initiative mirrors India’s earlier success with the International Solar Alliance, which promotes clean and affordable solar energy. PM Modi also proposed the launch of the ‘G20 Satellite Mission for Environment and Climate Observation’ and urged leaders to initiate the ‘Green Credit Initiative.’
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