They came, they saw, and they decided that Assam will be host to at least five meetings of G20, one of the most “premier forums for international economic cooperation” in the world, in 2023 during India’s presidency of it. The G20 plays an important role in shaping and strengthening global architecture and governance on all major international economic issues.
Officials of the G20 Seceretairat who came to Assam on August 3 this year was headed by Harshvardhan Shringla, India’s ex-Foreign Secretary, and now the chief coordinator of the Secretariat responsible for organising and coordinating G20 meetings across the country during India’s presidency.
Mr Shringla and his team met Assam Chief Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma who assured them of all support for a smooth hosting of these meetings, including one on sustainable finance under the Finance Track, one of the three workstreams under the G20 mandate. The other workstreams are the Sherpa Track and the Engagement Groups (EGs). EG, comprising non-government participants from each G20 member, provide recommendations to the G20 leaders and contribute towards the policy-making process.
The first of the meetings to be held in Guwahati will be on February 2 and 3, 2023.
Talking to Asom Barta, Seyedain Abbasi, Additional Chief Secretary, Government of Assam, and the State chief coordinator of the State G20 Secretariat said that these meetings will offer Assam an opportunity to showcase the State and its potential to the G20 nations. “Assam being the Gateway to the North East will get an immense opportunity to attract investment and technology from the most economically advanced countries of the world. We are sure that the outcome will be positive and impactful,” he said.
The State G20 Secretariat consists of officers from various departments of the State Government. It is coordinating with the Central G20 secretariat for the overall conduct of the G20 events.
Whereas Guwahati will host four meetings, the other meeting will be hosted in Dibrugarh. “The team headed by Mr Shringla also visited Dibrugarh and were satisfied with the infrastructure that we have, and decided on this venue,” informed Adil Khan, nodal officer, and member secretary of the State G20 Secretariat. Dibrugarh will also act as the venue for reception and accommodation of delegates for the event to be held in Arunachal Pradesh in March 2023.
“The five meetings being hosted by the State are in accord with the Prime Minister’s vision of importance to the North East. All the States of the region are hosting one or the other meetings according to the schedule received by us,” Khan, who is also the Secretary of the Transport Department of the Government of Assam, told this reporter.
“We will be able to tell the world that we have world class facilities to boast of besides an extremely rich cultural heritage,” he said while stating that this was by far the biggest and most prestigious international event ever to be hosted by the State. He added that besides representatives of the G20 countries, the State will also host top officials of international organisations like World Trade Organisation and the International Labour Organisation besides Unicef.
Meanwhile, the State Government has chalked out a detailed plan to showcase the tourism and cultural heritage of Assam to its foreign guests. Among some of the activities that will be undertaken during the visit of representatives of the G20 countries include visit to historical locations like Kamakhya and Umananda temples. Publications on tourism and a coffee table book on Assam will also be launched during these events. “We want to make all out efforts to brand the State to the international community to cash on the benefits of hosting these very important meetings in the State,” Khan said, adding that the State Chief Secretary is monitoring the progress regularly.
Meanwhile, representatives from various departments of the State were sent on a recce of sorts to the G20 meetings held in Mumbai and Bangalore for an exposure trip. Besides, the services of a former diplomat shall be solicited to train selected officers of Assam to impart them knowledge on communication/ interaction with foreign delegates. The officers attached for protocol duty will be sensitised on their delegates’ countries ethnicity, cultural ethos, habits, mannerisms, etc.