New Delhi, 18.08.2023: Over 500 delegates from West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Rajasthan and other parts of the country, representing people’s movements, trade unions and Civil Society Organisations came together at the Inaugural program at We20: Peoples’ Summit on G20 today in New Delhi. The Summit saw participation from Teesta Setalvad, Medha Patkar, Jayati Ghosh, Manoj Jha, Harsh Mander, Arun Kumar, Brinda Karat, Hannan Mollah, Rajeev Gowda among others.
Behind all the glitz and glamour that G20 attracted, it remains an informal elite club of traditional powers or the G7 countries and selected emerging powers, essentially a platform that provides legitimacy to the G7 agenda and policies. Yet, the decisions made by this elite informal club impact the policies and financial architecture of the whole world.
India’s presidency, which has been advertised extensively with an atrocious 51 crore spent on outdoor advertising alone, has not resulted in taking the peoples’ issues forward, instead what we are seeing is a backsliding of the issues itself. The poor and their homes have not just been hidden, they have been evicted and their homes bulldozed in the cities where G20 meetings took place. Shakeel bhai working with the Basti Suraksha Manch and Rekha affected by the eviction at Bela estate summarised their plight in a simple question, she asked, “Are the lieutenant governor and the Prime minister, poorer than us that they need our things to be picked up by the police?”
India may be claiming itself to be the Mother of Democracy on this eve, but reflecting on Dissent and Democracy in India, democratic rights activist Teesta Setalvad said, “The nature of the state has changed. And the parliament is being used to undermine the constitution.”
Economist Arun Kumar speaking on G20 and its impacts on India’s key sectors said, “Marginalised sections are ignored in our policies. The focus is on the already rich. Is there any opportunity at G20 for people? Our ruling class is aligned with the ruling class of the developed countries.”
Medha Patkar, of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, asked what is the need for a block like the G20. For whose interest was it originally created? This is clearly a mandate of the corporates, which is also being used to attack our law and constitution.
Rajeev Gowda remarked, that ‘despite Modi government’s best efforts, and tax sops, private players have so far preferred not to invest in sectors that the government has wanted them to.’
Thomas Franco from All India Bank Officers’ Confederation said, “The entire financial sector has been taken over by World Bank, IMF and Financial Stability Board. In the name of reform, what they promote is Privatisation, Corporatisation and marginalisation of the majority. We have fought these reforms from 1991 till now, and no bank could be privatised. What is needed now is to stand up and defeat fascist, corporate and communal forces.”
We20: A Peoples’ Summit on G20 is being held in the run-up to the 18th G20 Leaders’ Summit to be held in New Delhi early September. It is an effort to bring people’s voices to the forefront and raise their issues and concerns for a more democratic, just and inclusive financial system and political order.
Speaking about the G20 and the changing financial architecture, economist, Jayati Ghosh, remarked, “Many things were promised from the Indian presidency – we’d wipe out inequality, clear debt crisis, bring tax reforms, would stop illicit financial flows etc. But this has been the least productive G20, which didn’t even manage to get a common communiqué.”
Rajya Sabha MP, Manoj Jha, commented, “The struggle to fight fascism is the combined fight from the roads to the parliament.”
Harsh Mander from Karwan-e-Mohabbat, “If the government does not change in 2024, the story of Manipur will be all of our stories.”
This 3-day program will further see a total of nine workshops with diverse themes ranging from Global Finance, Big Banks, and their Impact on People, Right to Information, Digital Data and Surveillance, to Reimagining Cities and a cultural program on the 20th.
Vandana Shiva, Jairam Ramesh, Maimoona Mollah, Nikhil Dey, Anjali Bhardwaj and others will be participating in the workshops scheduled from 10.30 am on 19th and 20th August.
Over 70 organisations, unions and peoples’ groups including National Alliance of People’s Movements, Focus on the Global South, All India Union of Forest Working People, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Environment Support Group (ESG), Peoples Resource Centre, People First, Alternative Law Forum, Manthan Adhyayan Kendra, Delhi Forum, Jharkhand Mine Area Committee, Parisar, Basti Suraksha Manch, National hawkers Federation, Pani Haq Samiti and Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao, among others were instrumental in shaping the event.
Dayamani Barla, Adivasi-Moolvasi Astitva Raksha Manch, Abdul Shakeel, Basti Suraksha Manch, Olencio Simoes, National Fishworker’s Forum, Ritwick Dutta, Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment, Roma Malik, All India Union of Forest Working People, Shaktiman Ghosh, National Hawker’s Federation, Wasiq Nadim Khan, United Against Hate also shared their thoughts amidst great reception from the audience.
The colourful Summit also had multiple stalls from artisans and movement groups across the country displaying traditional arts, books and handicrafts.
If you are in Delhi, visit the We20: A Peoples’ Summit at G20 at Surjeet Bhawan, New Delhi. For more details and the program schedule, go to the website: https://wgonifis.net/g-20/
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