THE LIST of possible destinations for the upcoming G-20 meetings, which will set the stage for the group’s summit next year in the national capital, includes Kashmir, Siliguri, Rann of Kutch and Goa, The Indian Express has learnt. Deliberations in this regard were held during the ongoing State Tourism Ministers’ Conference in Dharamshala, officials said.
Kashmir’s selection as one of the possible venues may have diplomatic repercussions as some G-20 countries may have differing views on the situation in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370.
Besides, foreign diplomats based in India, foreign officials and even India-based foreign journalists need special permission to visit J&K, which presents a procedural challenge for the Government.
The 200-plus meetings scheduled to be held in the run-up to the G-20 summit on September 9 and 10 next year, will mainly include those at the ministerial and official levels. There will also be meetings at the level of India-based diplomats apart from non-governmental interactions: civil society groups, think tanks, business, media and other such groupings from G-20 countries.
Several cultural and heritage sites are also likely to host some of these meetings, including UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra, Hampi in Karnataka and Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu.
Focus on Valley
In the wake of the abrogation of Article 370, the Government had organised visits of diplomats and envoys of various countries to the Union Territory of J&K to underline normalcy in the Valley. Kashmir’s elevation as a possible venue for G-20 meetings will take that exercise to the next level.
Addressing the conference in Dharamshala, Union Tourism Secretary Arvind Singh said there will be 215 meetings spread across 55 sites covering most states. The meetings will be held between January 1 and September 10, 2023.
The International Exhibition Cum Convention Centre at Pragati Maidan in New Delhi is expected to be ready early next year for the summit. Ahead of this, the national capital will undergo a beautification drive, especially in areas around hotels, public spaces and roads leading from the international airport to the summit venue.
Officials said the upcoming G-20 presidency will also be used as an opportunity to push India as a preferred tourist destination. The delegates arriving for various meetings will be taken on familiarisation tours to scenic spots across the country.
For the duration of India’s G-20 presidency, as many as 250 cultural events will be held on the sidelines of key meetings for delegates, officials in the Ministry of Culture said.
India will assume the presidency of G-20 for one year from December 1, 2022, and will invite Bangladesh, Egypt, Mauritius, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Singapore, Spain and UAE as guest countries for the summit.
The G-20 is an intergovernmental forum comprising 19 countries — Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, UK, US — and EU.