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G20 Summit Delhi: Does it take twenty to tango?

Comedian Vikram Poddar decodes the purposes, themes and expectations from India’s G20 Presidency

Vikram Poddar | Published 19.09.23, 02:42 PM
G20 Summit Delhi: ‘Bees log kya kahenge?'

G20 Summit Delhi: ‘Bees log kya kahenge?'

Elke Scholiers/Getty Images

In the span of a week, we witnessed the final of the Asia Cup and the G20 Summit. One of them was a spectacle to distract people from real issues, the other one was the Asia Cup final. Delhi was suitably cleared of both pollutants as well as populace to create the right atmosphere to showcase our great leader… I mean, great country.

The G20 forum was formed in response to the 2008 crisis, which was created by the G7 countries. The current inflationary trends are caused due to the G7’s policy response to their own crisis. Along similar lines, we can look forward to the G20 creating its own original crisis as well, so it can chart out its own independent identity in the politico-economic grouping wasteland, but then this article is not just about INDIA.


‘Log kya kahenge’ and other themes

One could argue that a typically Indian slogan for the G20 would be “Bees log kya kahenge” [What will 20 people say?]. Of course, the marketing campaign around India’s G20 presidency has been more of an election slogan: “Dekho bees log humaare baare mein kya keh rahein hai” [Look what 20 people are saying about us]. Like, share, subscribe.’

‘One earth, one family, one future’ was the official theme of this year’s G20 Summit in New Delhi. Which means, I can expect my fate to be the same as that of a TikToker who got killed trying to take a selfie. One man, one photo, also seemed to be the unofficial theme with more photos of the great sherpa than the number of hashtags on a clickbaity Instagram post.

There was some flutter when invitations were sent in the name of Bharat rather than India and for a moment one wondered if Manoj Kumar would return to do an encore. But eventually, as Shakespeare would say, “What’s in a name! That which we can hide in a declaration by any other name would smell just like diplomacy.”

It was also the Year of the Millet and the guests were welcomed with millets of all kinds. With the US and Indian elections due in 2024, one expects the millets to be replaced with mullets at next year’s summit.

The big global off-site

The G20 is a lot like a corporate off-site where many declarations have to be made and some team building exercises have to be conducted for HR to take photos and post on the company’s social media page. All so the travel and stay budget can be clubbed under Multilateral Development Initiatives.

There was a lot of wrangling over a declaration that would be palatable to both the pro- and anti-Russia camps, but India was eventually able to come through with a language that works for everyone. We are used to wrangling over far more important issues, like what to name a new bridge so it can at least be inaugurated and be at least be used once before it collapses.

Delhi was pretty much put in shut-down mode for the three days of the meet. This also helped tremendously in reducing both the pollution and the blood pressure levels of the average Delhiite. By the way, you can spot an average Delhiite by how hard they try to show they are not average.

Perhaps in the same vein, one can judge the success of an event by how hard its success was sold.

The author is a Marwari investment banker turned corporate comedian. The views expressed in this article are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the website.

Last updated on 21.09.23, 03:29 PM

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