Kashmir As G20 Meetings Venue

JAMMU and Kashmir is reportedly among the possible destinations for the upcoming G-20 meetings, which will set the stage for the group’s summit next year in New Delhi. Other possible places are Siliguri, Rann of Kutch and Goa. India will assume the G-20 presidency from December 1, 2022, to November next year. During this period, it will host  215 G-20 meetings over 55 locations, four of which will be focused on promoting the tourism sector. The one that will be held in Jammu and Kashmir is focused on the tourism sector. But the planned meetings in the union territory have drawn a lot of attention. This is despite the fact that Kashmir will no longer be the site of the G20 summit meeting.  The administration in Jammu and Kashmir has already started making preparations for the meetings.

Earlier, when New Delhi indicated that the G20 summit itself might be held in Kashmir, there were protests from Pakistan and its ally China.  India, in a snub to Beijing, subsequently planned a part of the event in Ladakh too, with Ladakh administration even issuing an order to this effect.

Interestingly, the west has not reacted to India’s selection of Kashmir and Ladakh as G20 venues which could be read as a tacit acceptance of India’s choice. If that be so, it would be seen as a big diplomatic victory for India. The west reconciling to Kashmir as a G20 venue would mean that it no longer considers the region as an issue.

In June, Jammu and Kashmir administration constituted a five-member committee headed by the Principal Secretary, Housing and Urban Development Department, to coordinate the G-20 meetings that are to be held in the union territory. Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Chief Coordinator of the G-20 Secretariat in the Ministry of External Affairs has already written to chief secretaries of all the states and Union Territories that India’s presidency of the G-20 provides a unique opportunity to place “our narrative in the global agenda and to showcase India’s development and cultural diversity.”

That said, in the recent past, India has sought to portray Kashmir as a Davos-like venue for global events. In December 2020, Union minister Nitin Gadkari said that the union government was planning a hill station, more enchanting than the world-famous Davos in Switzerland, in the picturesque landscape between the 18-km stretch of Zojila tunnel in Ladakh and Z-Morh tunnel in Jammu and Kashmir.

Similarly, the ski-resort of Gulmarg was also called Davos of East. In 2015, the then Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said the government intended to promote Gulmarg in Kashmir as the Davos of India, where the country’s top business and policymakers could hold their annual summits to frame new policies and strategies. With possible G20 meetings, such a prospect seems one step closer.

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