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G20: The New Paradigm

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By Hugh & Colleen Gantzer

A paradigm is an example or a template that needs to be followed. It replaces something that is outmoded or obsolete. The UN Security Council was created when the world was still in awe of the victors of the 2nd World War.  Grateful nations gave those countries the right to cast a veto on matters of international security. That was in the 1940s when the United Nations consisted of 50 member countries. Today there are more than 200 countries. Russia was an ally of the UK and USA, today they are daggers drawn. The so-called developed world looked down on their former colonies as the Poverty Ridden Third World. Today, India has joined the exclusive club of nations which have landed a Rover on the moon. Its former lord and master, Britain, has not been able to do so.

There is absolutely no justification to maintain the fictional status of the UN Security Council.  As India’s Presidentship of the G20 has shown, this new group of nations is a power to be reckoned with. It also follows that when India has achieved the status of being an international Mover and Shaker, it has no need to keep repeating its dubious claim about being the world’s first democracy. Our established successes speak for themselves. We are the fifth ranking economy in the world. While most of the world has aspired to provide food, clothing and shelter to its citizens, Indians have a fifth aspiration: education. Particularly an education in the international lingua franca: English. This has led to the enormous growth and influence of the Indian Diaspora. The Prime Minister of the UK is of Indian Origin, the Vice President of the USA is of Indian origin and there are no less than four Presidential Candidates of Indian origin.

All this has resulted in a dramatic change of image for India. It suited the British to project India as a land of snake charmers, dancing girls, and maharajas. They could then claim that it was their onerous task to pick up the white man’s burden.

This negative image of India to the world was first punctured by Prime Minister Nehru, who decided to invite UNESCO to hold a meeting in Delhi. But, there was neither a suitable hotel nor conference hall to hold such an international cultural event. He personally supervised the design and construction of Vigyan Bhavan and the Ashoka Hotel. Both used gracefully dominant Indian architectural themes and motives.

The next image change for India was brought about by Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and later with an association with his wife, Sonia.  Rajiv’s grandfather had had India’s iconic hydro-electric scheme constructed at Bhakra Nangal.  He had also appointed the erudite and very articulate Karan Singh as Asia’s first Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation. Rajiv extended this outreach by launching the fabulous Festivals of India along with his wife Sonia. He also swooped down on the central Government Offices in Delhi and confiscated all the typewriters thereby forcing the babus to become computer literate. Finally, Rajiv got his friend Sam Pitroda to introduce direct dialling into our telecom system. Before that we had to wait for hours for the telephone exchange to give us various expensive levels of trunk calls.

We ride on the shoulders of past achievers. It is not only churlish to deny the foundations laid down by them but it is also dangerous. In this age of burgeoning information technology, when children play with smart phones, it is absurd for anyone to try to conceal the past or to distort it by attempts at spin doctoring. All of this brings us to the present.

Very rightly Prime Minister Mody stands proud and confident as the President of the internationally assertive G20. There is every reason to believe that this position marks the beginning of the India Century. But we should also remember that many around the world, who have reached the pinnacle of power, are toppling. Those conquering the summit of power need support. As Sir Edmund Hillary needed Tensing Norgay.

A sobering thought. Our Presidentship of G20 has been an international success but has it done anything to stop the approach of the fiery monster of Climate Change? Or, on a smaller scale, why is Manipur still festering?

(Hugh & Colleen Gantzer hold the National Lifetime Achievement Award for Tourism among other National and International awards. Their credits include over 52 halfhour documentaries on national TV under their joint names, 26 published books in 6 genres, and over 1,500 first-person articles, about every Indian state, UT and 34 other countries. Hugh was a Commander in the Indian Navy and the Judge Advocate, Southern Naval Command. Colleen is the only travel writer who was a member of the Travel Agents Association of India.) (The opinions and thoughts expressed here reflect only the authors’ views!).