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'We20': Economists and Activists Come Together to Hold a Mirror to G20

The event placed at the front and centre the fact that the G20 is an 'informal elite club' of traditional and selected powers whose decisions impact the policies and financial architecture of the whole world.

New Delhi: Over 500 economists, activists, journalists and politicians from across the country come together for a ‘We20’ people’s summit in the national capital, which aims to hold a mirror to the glitz surrounding the G20 summit that India is set to host.

The inaugural programme of the ‘We20: Peoples’ Summit on G20’ on August 19 saw participation from Teesta Setalvad, Medha Patkar, Jayati Ghosh, Manoj Jha, Harsh Mander, Arun Kumar, Brinda Karat, Hannan Mollah, and Rajeev Gowda among others.

Attending participants had travelled from West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Rajasthan and other parts of the country, according to the event’s press release.

The event placed at the front and centre the fact that the G20 is an “informal elite club” of traditional and selected powers whose decisions impact the policies and financial architecture of the whole world.

It highlighted India’s enormous “Rs 51 crore” outdoor advertising budget as host. In the process of beautifying cities, the speakers highlighted how “the poor and their homes have not just been hidden, they have been evicted and their homes bulldozed in the cities where G20 meetings took place.”

The Wire has reported on how a recent study collating testimonies of those affected by forced evictions purportedly necessitated by India hosting the G20 summit has unveiled a picture of particular administrative apathy.

Two people affected by the evictions at New Delhi’s Bela Estate – Shakeel who works with the Basti Suraksha Manch and Rekha – spoke on their situation.

The three-day programme will include nine workshops on global finance, banking, the right to information, data and digital surveillance, urban life and culture.

While economists Arun Kumar and Jayati Ghosh highlighted how the G20 was moving away from “people-centric” decisions, activists Medha Patkar and Teesta Setalvad questioned whose interests the G20 was serving in the first place.

Rajya Sabha MP Manoj Jha said that the struggle to fight fascism is the combined fight from the roads to the parliament.”

Harsh Mander noted that “If the government does not change in 2024, the story of Manipur will be all of our stories.”

The press release notes that more than 70 organisations, unions and peoples’ groups including National Alliance of People’s Movements, Focus on the Global South, All India Union of Forest Working People, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Environment Support Group (ESG), Peoples Resource Centre, People First, Alternative Law Forum, and others participated in the event.