On 9 September 2023, the Group of 20 adopted a Leaders’ Declaration during the 18th Heads of State and Government Summit, in which culture was firmly anchored at the heart of the stronger policy commitment of the G20 members.
The major priorities for India in these meetings were Green Development, Climate Finance, and Life; Accelerated, Inclusive and Resilient Growth; Accelerating Progress on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); Technological Transformation & Digital Public Infrastructure; Multilateral Institutions for the 21st Century; and Women-Led Development. India enthusiastically welcomed the G20 delegates, with each meeting in a new host city, allowing delegates to experience India’s unique traditions, cultures, and cuisines.
India followed the concept of Vasudhaive Kutumbkam, which stands for “One Earth, One Family, and One Future.” The theme represented in India’s G20 logo, with Earth closely connected to LIFE (Lifestyle for Environment), and color taken from India’s tri-color flag.
Notably, leaders and delegates at the G20 summit often hold bilateral meetings and discussions on various issues. These meetings provide an opportunity for leaders to discuss cultural exchanges, collaborations in the arts, and joint cultural initiatives. Cultural diplomacy can be an agenda item in these discussions.
One of the key aspects of cultural diplomacy at the G20 Summit was the opportunity for India to showcase its cultural heritage. India typically organized exhibitions, performances, and displays that highlighted its history, art, and traditions. This not only gave attendees a glimpse into the host country’s culture but also encourages dialogue and appreciation of diverse cultures. For instance, during his visit to India for the G20 summit, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty participated in a morning prayer ceremony at a Hindu temple in New Delhi.
Through the meetings in various cities, the G20 delegates experienced India’s multiculturalism, receiving a different traditional welcome in each city. In each location, delegates have been able to get acquainted with local culture, cuisine, major tourist spots, etc.
In a nutshell, cultural diplomacy is a form of soft power, and the G20 summit proved to be a platform for countries to project their soft power on the global stage. By showcasing their cultural achievements and contributions, countries enhanced their international image and influence. While the G20 suit itself may not be directly helpful in cultural diplomacy, the G20 summit as a whole provides a platform for cultural exchange, showcasing cultures, promoting soft power, building connections, and addressing global issues through culture. It offers opportunities for leaders and delegates to engage in cultural diplomacy efforts alongside their discussions of economic and political matters.