From small-business owners to regular students and teachers, the diverse Delhi diaspora is split on opinions related to the G20 ‘Lockdown’.

While newspaper, TV, and social media headlines have branded the G20 Summit in Delhi a “huge success” for India and the Modi government, the story of Delhi says quite the contrary. With universities, offices, and other institutions shut down for a 5-day period while we were solving problems at the global level within the sanctum of ‘Bharat Mandapam’, the city of Delhi had come to a standstill, claiming several victims of this global show of power.

The University of Delhi was shut down for a period of five days, from October 6th to October 10th, 2023, on the occasion of the G20 summit. In conversation with several students regarding this frequent shutting down of the university on several occasions, an ‘apolitical diaspora’ of students reacted with, “We were more than happy to get such a long weekend.” However, another section of students also say that these continuous holidays ‘hamper their academic schedules’ considering the already shortened semesters—thanks to the newly introduced Four-Year-Undergraduate Program (FYUP)—due to which both teachers and students struggle to catch up with the course syllabus later.

In conversation with an assistant professor from the University of Delhi, quite a different perspective can be gauged.

India taking over the G20 Presidency is a matter of pride for every Indian. Closure of educational institutions in the capital for the preparation of G20 Summit may have caused a little inconvenience to some but it was a great opportunity for India as it was attended by world leaders. In such a situation, teachers usually give students assignments, readings or activities that can be done during the break and then plan catch up/review sessions. Teachers always put in that extra effort to work towards the welfare of the students’ community.

Contrary to this, another assistant professor claims the following,

 The dispersal of classes a few days before the actual event (G20 Summit) was wholly unnecessary. The lockdown in general felt excessive, we’ve held such events before, and telling citizens not to step out was very inconvenient. The blocking of roads for instance caused unnecessary stress. DU is anyway suffering because of NEP, in terms of truncated syllabi and less number of lectures, and on top of that such unscheduled holidays make a mockery of education.

A simple stroll through Purani Dilli during the G20 weekend brought us into contact with several daily-wage workers like rickshaw-pullers who mentioned,

The road blocking has caused us to take longer routes that take much more time than usual. In order to get to Nizamuddin from Chandni Chowk, one has to make a detour through Mandi House which can take nearly an hour. Because of the lockdown, customers are few and we compensate by charging extra for the longer route from the handful of customers.

While green curtains and G20 banners veiled the tragic truth of the Delhi diaspora, stray dogs, local shops, and even sex workers were ‘hidden from sight’. On this note, a DU student residing near Vasant Vihar claimed that,

I’ve noticed several sex workers near Munirka who usually do their business under the Munirka flyover. However, 2-3 days before G20, ITBP soldiers were seen clearing the area who hauled all the 10-12 sex-workers into their jeeps and they were never seen since then.

A sanitation worker and caretaker at one of the reputed student PGs, Stanza Living, had the following to share,

The army stationed at every corner of the road put too many restrictions for me to reach my workplace. They would ask me, “Kaha jaa rahe ho? ID dikhao” (Where are you going? Show me your ID) at every 10-minute interval. Mai kya inke liye kaam na karke ghar pe baithi rahu? (Should I stop working for their sake and rather sit at home?)

While heartbreaking videos regarding stray dogs being violently dragged to unknown hiding places have made the rounds on the internet, the irony lies in the fact that such a large-scale global event aimed at solving global issues was conducted while millions were suffering at home. Local shops being covered with G20 banners caused a drop in the incomes of those business owners, while several daily-wage workers suffered economically too, thanks to the lockdown.

With massive investments of nearly 4000 crores being made towards the G20 for ‘Delhi Beautification’ and the ‘Bharat’ renaming rumours doing the rounds, which could cost an additional 14,000 crores, the scary question then arises: how long will this government turn a blind eye to the sufferers at home? How many more victims will this ‘unchecked’ power claim before the actual ‘achche-din’? What does the G20 bring in return for all these ‘hidden’ victims?  Will it all be worth it after all?

Read Also: The Green Curtains of G20: Solution to All of Bharat’s Woes

Featured Image Credits: Down To Earth

A reflective piece on the state’s attempts at defining aesthetic spaces within Delhi and ‘invisibilizing’ citizenry.

Through the years, the capital city of Delhi has been at the heart of romanticization and overt aestheticization. From Purani Dilli ke Seekh Kebabs to sunsets at India Gate, the city has been branded as an illusion of dreams, love, and utopia.

However, the reality is pretty different. Over centuries, in the same gullies of old Chandni Chowk, live ghettoised communities of immigrant labourers and religious minorities who lack proper living or working conditions. The same Delhi that is depicted by the beautiful roads of Jor Bagh also holds infrastructure so poor in the northern parts that shelters get flooded within a week of rainfall.

Hitherto, the supposed aesthetic face of Delhi has always existed in popular culture and conventional media, but the recent G20 summit revealed the government’s inclination towards maintaining those spaces as well. The G20 summit, with reputed foreign delegates and heads of state like Joe Biden, Rishi Sunak, and Olaf Scholz arriving in the capital city of Delhi, was a matter of huge pride for the country, the ruling government, and especially Prime Minister Modi’s image in the global arena.

And hereby, for the sake of maintaining and polishing this supposed glamorous image, sacrifices were made. And these sacrifices always came down to the same set of voiceless and suppressed sections of the Indian population.

Under the ironic guise of ‘One Earth, One Family’, the Modi government deliberately placed green curtains over the poor slums and local businesses of Delhi, apparently too ashamed of its ignorance towards inclusive social development through the years.

Hiding the so-called ‘ugly parts’ of the capital city implies the state defining aesthetic spaces for the citizenry on the basis of social and economic status. The state decides which aspects of the Indian diaspora are suitable for the eyes of Joe Biden and Rishi Sunak. This points to the idea that if you are living in unhygienic quarters and are unable to fend for three meals a day with malnourished children running around your streets, then alas! Your existence is a bane to ‘Bharat’ and must be hidden.

While trying to boost its own image on the global stage, the Modi government fails to imagine how the green curtains have, in fact, done the opposite. It depicts the Indian government as one that is ashamed of the real issues plaguing its populace and is naïve enough to go ahead and hide them rather than working to resolve them. While the Prime Minister boasts about economic prosperity on international television, the same government goes ahead and puts a veil on the other side of the coin—extreme inequality.

Newspapers, broadcast channels, and Instagram reels have bombarded you with how Delhi has received a ‘glow-up’ for the G20 summit and the government spending nearly 4000 crores for it. However, the question can always be raised: Why didn’t the government spend this sum on slum development rather than polishing the already-tidy streets of South Delhi? Was such a huge investment for the G20 necessary when it didn’t bring forth the same in return?

Probably, the answer to all these issues, according to the Modi government, is ‘invisibilizing’ the existence of such people and suppressing their voices. But is this how it is going to be? The solution to all of India’s woes, from caste oppression to extreme poverty? Are green curtains, rejecting press conferences, and shooshing down social strife across the country from reaching international ears now the answer?

The most heartbreaking part is the changing political climate amidst the Indian diaspora. While the rich and privileged of the city go out on car rides, enjoying the G20 decoration of Delhi under moonlight, the have-nots are losing the right to ‘visibilize’ their meagre existence and, in turn, their real issues. The lashing out of the Modi government against anybody that stands to tarnish its image has produced an apolitical diaspora—either too unbothered and ignorant or too scared to speak.

And hence, the green curtains of Delhi have gone unnoticed without much uproar in mainstream media and among the local masses. The scary part, however, is that if the state runs wild, defining its standards of governmentality this way without proper scrutiny, the systems of democracy will fail, as they already are.

The tragedy of the romanticization of the capital city of Delhi has been persistent. History has spoken more about the might of the walls of Red Fort than the plights of the looted locals at ‘Shahjahanabad’. Even today, we are talking about the ‘economic and cultural power’ of ‘Bharat’ and not the misery of millions whose mere existence the Modi government is ashamed to show to the world.

Even along with the romanticization, one thing has remained constant over the years: the sufferers of this supposedly mighty, aesthetized city, that is, Delhi. Perhaps you too, like the government, will content your heart with green curtains and turn a blind eye towards what lies beyond them. As the state probably said to themselves at some point, “What happens in Delhi stays within Delhi, after all.”

Read Also: Women in Politics, or the Lack Thereof

Featured Image Credits: downtoearth.org

This report is a synopsis of the 11th Annual Business Symposia organised by the Department of Commerce at the Delhi School of Economics .

Adding on an another successful feather to their cap, the Department of Commerce at Delhi School of Economics organised its 11th Annual Business Symposia ” RETHINK ’23” accentuating on “India’s G20 Presidency : Navigating Global Business Challenges ” on 16th September, 2023 at the Conference Centre, New Delhi. The event commenced at 10 am IST with the inaugural speech by Mr. Ajay Kr Singh (Head & Dean of the Department of Commerce, Faculty of Commerce and Business), followed by professor Niti Bhasin’s debrief of the theme. The keynote speaker Mr. SP Sharma elucidated further on the impact of India’s G20 presidency. The Chief Guest for the event Mrs. Urvashi Prasad provided high level insights on the G20 forum. The audience intently followed through with the speeches that kick started the Symposia 

The first panel discussion centered around the impact of India’s G20 presidency on Business environment with the panelists Mr. Arpan Gupta (additional Director of FICCI), Colonel Anurag Awasthi (Vice President IESA), Mr. Aman Kumar (Vice President of Accenture), Mr. Amit Walia (Vice President at CITI) and Mr. Amiye Agarwal (Senior Director Public Services at TCS). The panel presented worthwhile insights on the direct and indirect impact of India’s G20 presidency, stressing over the forthcoming  ‘Amritkal’ and the pertinent importance of executing and implementing the takeaways from G20 that favours the vision of “India @100”. The panelists were presented with well researched and provocative questions. The scope of India’s interaction with global business and governance, increasing roles of semiconductors, tipping the scale of technology transfer in the favour of sustainability were among the few questions that led to breakthrough brainstorming which was invigorating for the panel as well as the delegates. The audience sat gripped by the eloquence and anecdotal knowledge shared by the panelists. The major takeaways from the discussion centered around “pragmatic activism” as witnessed in the paradigm shift of the global economy through balancing geopolitical tensions, intersecting collective and national interests of G20, mobilising resources and partnerships and focusing on global biofuel alliances. 

Colonel Anurag Awasthi’s “stop thinking like nations and start thinking like empires; well done is better than well said” earned him a well deserved round of applause . The students seemed vivified by the discussion, Saurav Kumar a student of International Business at Delhi school of economics deemed the lecture to be enlightening in terms of India’s growth plan for becoming a sustainable representative of the ‘Global South’.  

The second panel of speakers included–Mr. Nanda Kumar Das, Vice President at Genpact; Mr. Samir Kapoor, Chief Marketing Officer at Justdial; Mr. Tarun Goel, Senior Director at Tiger Analytics; Mr. Aditya Tandon, Vice President at Network18 and Mr. Mukesh Ghuraiya, Chief Marketing Officer at Modi Naturals. The panel was based on the theme of ‘Positioning India towards inclusive Growth and Digital Literacy’. Towards the beginning of the discussion, Mr. Das joked about ‘bringing the better panel after lunch.’

The panelists discussed topics ranging from the evolution of innovation, research and development as well as building an entrepreneurial mindset. The way new up-and-coming technologies like Gen AI are going to disrupt and innovate the market space was also extensively discussed. They also talked about maximising growth by bringing more women into the workforce. 

While discussing the role that both private and public sectors can play in inclusive growth and digital literacy, Mr. Goel said, “There is a huge opportunity underlying India. Given our infrastructure and education, the private sector can play a huge role.”

Enjoy yourself…what you do remember is all the time you spend with each other and the time you spend with your family, so really enjoy yourself.

— Mr. Tandon while talking to the students about his university days


I think the idea of ‘Amritkal’ for any entity, whether it is an organisation– whatever the entity, symbolism is very important because that is how we channelise energy and motivate people to come together for a cause. So, I think symbolism from a communication standpoint is also very important. And I think ‘Amritkal’ was beautiful–why? Because I also look at the timing. For our country, there are many positive signs.

— Mr. Tandon, when asked about the conversations about the incoming ‘Amritkal’ around the G20 Summit and what that entails for the youth

The event ended with the students and the panelists gathering for evening tea, providing them ample opportunity to reflect and deliberate about the insightful discussions they’d witnessed.  


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Priya Shandilya 

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Vanshika Ahuja

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