The day moved on lazily with expectations that other major announcements from the summit would be made on the concluding day—Sunday. But the India presidency wanted to spring a surprise as the world watched. The many WhatsApp and Telegram channels, which are virtually running the summit in terms of statements and announcements of all kinds, put in a line—India presidency press conference at 4 pm. Murmurs started on what the presser could say at this point when the leaders were still talking! Modi’s video on Twitter made it clear. He made the big announcement before the presser. “It is my proposal that this G20 declaration be adopted,” Modi said. After the approval of the members, he announced that the declaration had been adopted. The full New Delhi declaration—of some 34 pages—followed. That is the joint communique important leaders from the Indian side echoed. External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar gave an official seal to it, saying that the Summit had adopted the G20 leaders’ declaration. He and finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman gave out other details of the day’s decisions at the presser—but the headline was made. It was India’s victory on the world stage in the midst of geopolitical turmoil. The Russia-Ukraine war had cast a shadow on the proposed deal, but “G20 presidency had walked the talk,” Sitharaman said.
Prime Minister Modi spoke at the leaders’ summit with a Bharat nameplate, not India. It seemed like a perfect setting for a dinner to which the G20 world leaders are headed Saturday evening. President Draupadi Murmu had triggered a debate a few days ago when her dinner invitation to the leaders had mentioned her as the President of Bharat, not India. Ministers had tweeted it over and over to send a message across.
As Modi said earlier in the day, “This is the time to give the world a new direction… the India presidency has become a symbol for welfare and happiness… That’s our message to the world.” In the curtain-raiser press conference on Friday, both G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant and foreign secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra had expressed hope that a consensus would be reached on a joint communique.
With one more day to go for the leaders’ summit, most of the time will be used in discussing the fine print of the communique and the softer side of India’s G20 summit. There’s a visit to Rajghat and some side meetings between the leaders before the mega summit draws to a close, with a joint communique very much in place despite Russia and China’s heads of state dropping out.
First Published: Sep 09 2023 | 5:18 PM IST