The Y20 Secretariat was set up in India for the first time in December 2022. Given the peculiarity of the situation, as India geared up to hold the presidency of the G20 for the first time, the government decided to set up the Secretariats for all the engagement groups in already established institutions. Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation (SPMRF) was nominated as the Secretariat for Youth 20 India. Immediately after being entrusted with the responsibility, SPMRF planned a structure for the Secretariat, and by mid-December 2022, there was a fully-functional Secretariat. As I can recall, all the members of the Secretariat met daily in December 2022 to plan the minute details for the smooth functioning of the Secretariat throughout the year. By the first week of January 2023, with a successful Curtain Raiser event in New Delhi, we were equipped and ready to start our journey.
Upon commencement, the main task for the Secretariat was to identify the themes, ensure smooth negotiations among the Y20 delegates of all the member countries and finally agree and have a consensus to bring out a Communiqué. For this year, after several rounds of discussions, the Secretariat decided to have the following themes- Future of Work: Industry 4.0, Innovation and 21st Century Skills; Peacebuilding and Reconciliation: Ushering in an Era of No War; Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction: Making Sustainability a Way of Life; Shared Future: Youth in Democracy and Governance; and Health, Wellbeing and Sports: Agenda for Youth. In order to kick start the process, the Secretariat released the White Papers on all five themes during the Y20 Inception Meeting in Guwahati, Assam in February 2023.
While the White Papers are released by every host country, those released this year were significantly distinct. Along with highlighting the global challenges under all themes and discussing the way forward, the Secretariat decided to include a section on ‘The India Way’ in all the White Papers. This section, in the form of brief case studies, showcased how India has successfully dealt with many of the challenges under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. To name a few, the White Papers talked about Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana, Skill India Initiative, National Education Policy 2020, Peaceful Abrogation of Article 370 and 35-A, Democratic Peacebuilding in India’s Northeast, Mission LiFE, National Green Hydrogen Mission, National Youth Policy 2021, CoWin and India’s vaccine distribution during the Covid pandemic.
In furtherance of this and owing to the vision of the Prime Minister for being a voice of the Global South, the Indian delegates and track chairs had an important role during the negotiations. After almost five months of offline and online negotiations, Y20 India was able to churn out a Communiqué on all five themes successfully. This is a big achievement as the Communiqué was brought out with full consensus and with all member countries agreeing to cooperate and collaborate on several fronts on these themes. It is imperative to note that as part of the Communiqué, Y20 has extended it’s support on the proposed membership of the G20 to the African Union, in line with the Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji’s proposal to the G20.
At the beginning of India’s presidency of the G20, Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji gave the vision of ‘Jan Bhagidari’ (People’s Participation) to actively involve the Indian citizens in the G20 process. In consonance thereof, Y20 India Secretariat decided to maximize the outreach of Y20 related events throughout the country so as to engage with maximum number of youths in the country. In the span of last eight months, the Y20 Secretariat organised more than 1600 events across the country. The Secretariat decided to conduct events, not just in metropolitan cities or limiting it to conventional seminar halls and conference rooms, but also in the tribal as well as rural regions in the country. ‘Y20 Chaupals’ was a flagship event started by the Y20 Secretariat that localised the Y20 process and engaged youth not just in cities but also in villages. Similarly, the Secretariat conducted a series of ‘Y20 Talks’, ‘Y20 Study Circle’, ‘Y20 Walk’ and ‘Y20 Youth festival’ etc. As a part of our outreach movement. In the last eight months, the Secretariat momentously interacted and engaged with more than half a million young minds in the country.
The idea behind promoting ‘Jan Bhagidari’ in Y20 events had always been to make sure that the ideas of maximum young people can be incorporated and used while negotiating on crucial issues concerning the youth. It was also important to ensure that the discussions and deliberations that started during India’s G20 presidency do not end with the presidency. Therefore, the Y20 Secretariat took several measures to augment and intensify the outreach to cover students and young professionals to make sure that these discussions continue in India even after handing over the presidency to Brazil.
It is important to mention that the youth of the country showed great enthusiasm and excitement, not just in participating in the Y20 events, but also in organising events in their schools, colleges and other institutions. Taking into consideration, the unmatched strength, energy and potential of the youth in India, it becomes imperative to ensure that this movement to engage with young minds and include them in different avenues continues. It goes without saying that the Indian youth will play a significant role in ensuring global peace and prosperity in the future. Through consolidated efforts, which are presently being mulled over, dedicated towards harnessing the abilities of the Indian youth, this momentum accumulated during India’s G20 Presidency will continue to thrive even after November, 2023.