India’s G20 Presidency Logo the Only One Among 15 Other Nations to Resemble Ruling Party Symbol

Though a lotus was used for the logo of the 1983 NAM summit and a lotus featured in the logo of the 2021 BRICS summit, this is perhaps the first time the colours also align with those in the BJP's election symbol.

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New Delhi: On November 8, Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled the official logo of India’s upcoming presidency of the G20 group of nations, which begins next month.

The saffron and green colours used for the ‘G2’ part of India’s official logo and the use of a lotus – as a signifier of “India’s cultural heritage and faith”, as Modi put it – to support the ‘0’ bear a striking resemblance to the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s election symbol.

On Wednesday, a senior Congress leader, Jairam Ramesh, complained about this resemblance on Twitter. Calling it “shocking”, he added, “Mr. Modi & BJP won’t lose any opportunity to promote themselves shamelessly.” The BJP has responded by accusing the Congress of not respecting the lotus as India’s national flower.

Though the likeness of a lotus was used by the Indira Gandhi government for the logo of the 1983 summit of the Non-Aligned Movement and the Modi government used a lotus more directly in the logo of the 2021 BRICS summit, this is perhaps the first time that the  colours also align with those in the BJP’s election symbol.

Modi has called India’s assumption of the G20 presidency – which rotates every year – “a moment of pride” for 130 crore Indians. India will in fact be the 17th member to host the G20 summit – the primary responsibility of the presidency – after which it will be the turn of Brazil and South Africa. The US has hosted the summit twice.

So is the logo’s resemblance to the BJP’s election symbol merely a coincidence?

The Wire took a look at the logos of each of the previous G20 presidents/hosts used for the summits that they organised to see if any of the other leaders or ruling parties ‘coincidentally’ ended up promoting their own political symbols.

1. From November 2008 to October 2009, there was no clear president of the G20, nor an established tenure for the presidency. This is indicated by the seeming lack of logos. Three summits were hosted – two in the United States of America (November 2008, April – September 2009) and one in the United Kingdom under the following leaders: US Presidents George W Bush and Barack Obama, and UK Prime Minister James Gordon Brown.

2. The first logo was unveiled in 2010, when the G20 Summit was hosted in Canada in November 2010, and chaired by Prime Minister Stephen Harper of the Progressive Conservatives. The red Canadian maple leaf figures in both logos, but then the leaf also figures in the official logo of the Conservatives’ rival, the Liberal Party, and is not unique to the Progressive Conservatives.

3. July-November 2010: The South Korean presidency of the G20 was chaired by President Lee Myung-bak of the Saenuri Party.

4. December 2010-November 2011: France’s presidency was the first year-long tenure at the G20. The summit was chaired by President Nicholas Sarkozy of the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP).

5. December 2011-November 2012: Mexico was president, chaired by President Felipe Calderón of the National Action Party. Blue is common to both logos but other than that, there is no apparent link to the PAN emblem.

6. December 2012-November 2013: The presidency of the G20 was handed over to Russia from Mexico, and chaired by President Vladimir Putin of the United Russia Party. The colours in both logos are from the Russian flag.

7. December 2013-November 2014: Australia was the president of the G20, led by Prime Minister Tony Abbot of the Liberal Party of Australia.

8. December 2014-November 2015: Turkey was the president of the G20, which was chaired by Recep Tayyip Erdogan of the AK Party.

9. December 2015-November 2016: The president of the G20 was China, chaired by Xi Jinping of the Chinese Communist Party.

10. December 2016-November 2016: Germany, under Chancellor Angela Merkel, was president of the G20. The emblem of Merkel’s  Christian Democratic Union Party and Germany’s G20 logo bear no resemblance.

11. December 2017-November 2018: Argentina was president of G20, and the summit was chaired by President Mauricio Macri of the Juntos Por El Cambio party. Some of the colours of the ruling party’s logo are used for the stylised ‘0’ but there isn’t a clear correspondence.

12. December 2018-November 2019: Japan was the president of the G20, under Shinzo Abe of the Liberal Democratic Party. The party uses a stylised chrysanthemum as its symbol. The G20 logo uses a stylised cherry blossom. The colours are also totally different.

13. December 2019-November 2020: The presidency of the G20 was handed over to Saudi Arabia, ruled by King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of the House of Saud. It was held virtually.

14. December 2020-November 2021: Italy’s presidency of the G20 was chaired initially by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. Mario Draghi became the prime minister in February 2021. Both were independent leaders who were backed by coalitions.

15. December 2021-November 2022: Indonesia is the current ppresident of the G20, chaired by President Joko Widodo of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle. Other than the use of red in the G20 logo there is little apparent connection with his party emblem.

16. December 2022-November 2023: India will assume the presidency of the G20 beginning from December 2022 until November 2023, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveils logo, theme and website of India’s G20 presidency, November 08, 2022. Photo: pmindia.gov.in

Prashanthi Subbiah is an editorial intern with The Wire.