China absent but Y20 kicks off with 100 delegates from 30 countries in Ladakh

In what is widely interpreted as a major diplomatic achievement for India,  the Youth-20 (Y20)meeting which is part of the over 2000 G20 events being held in the country this year, commenced in the Union Territory (UT) of Ladakh on Wednesday.

Even as China is not participating, the gathering and visits of 170 dignitaries, including 100 foreign delegates, sends a strong message to China and Pakistan who opposed such international meetings in the UTs of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir. Ladakh has been in the world news after the Sino-Indian skirmishes of 2020-21 in which firearms were not used but some troops of the two countries suffered fatal casualties for the first time after the 1960s.

The plan of a visit of the delegates to Pangong Lake, close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC), has been dropped because of ‘certain logistic reasons but the diplomatic troupes are visiting different centres of heritage and cultural significance in the Leh district on the side-lines of the summit deliberations which include five Working Group conferences.

“Ninety-five foreign guests reached here till last evening. Some more arrived in the morning today. In all, 170 delegates, including officials associated with the event, are participating in the programmes. All arrangements have been completed”, Sheikh Junaid Mehmood, Deputy Inspector General of Police in Ladakh told India Narrative.

During the three-day main event in Leh, discussion and deliberation on various issues like climate, environment, health and wellbeing and sports will be held. This is for the first time, not only after the erstwhile State’s reorganisation and creation of the two UTs in 2019, but also after an international cricket match in Srinagar in 1983, that a major international event is being held in Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Following opposition to such G20 schedules in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh, China is not participating. However, most of the people in the two UTs believe that the boycott would only isolate China and boost international trade and tourism across J&K and Ladakh. China is a permanent member of G20 along with the United States of America, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, India, Saudi Arabia and the European Union nations.

Lieutenant Governor, Brig (rtd.) B.D. Mishra, is scheduled to host a dinner for the delegates in the evening on Wednesday ahead of inaugurating the sessions of deliberations at Sindhu Sanskriti Kendra Auditorium at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday. The inauguration will be followed by five parallel technical sessions at different hotels in Leh.

Union Minister of Information & Broadcasting and Youth Services & Sports, Anurag Thakur, LG Mishra, Secretary Youth Affairs Government of India and other senior officials are scheduled to address the concluding session in the evening on Friday, 28 April.

The Y20 meeting in Ladakh, alongside two key events in Srinagar and Jammu, are part of year-long G20 summit meetings after India gained the Presidency of the G20 in December 2022.

Nagaraj Naidu Kakanur, Joint Secretary G20 and Saugat Biswas, Divisional Commissioner, Ladakh were among the senior officials who  addressed the media at the Curtain Raiser of Y20 Pre-Summit in Leh on Tuesday.

Nagraj said that this engagement is primarily to deliberate on the issues which concern the youth of the world. “It is a tremendous opportunity for India to have a pre-summit meeting to be hosted in Leh where more than 100 delegates from more than 30 countries are participating,” he said. He added that with participation of youths from all over the world, it was an opportunity to experience Leh and its beautiful culture.

The meeting will bring together leading experts, decision makers, and youth leaders from G20 Countries to discuss and formulate actionable plans on the growth and development of the people. The meeting will focus on the five Y20 themes of Shared Future: Youth in Democracy and Governance ; Future of Work: Industry 4.0, Innovation & 21st Century Skills; Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction: Making Sustainability a Way of Life; Peace Building and Reconciliation:  Ushering in an era of No War and Health, Wellbeing & Sports: Agenda for Youth, he said.

Meanwhile, as a part of the Y20 programme series, the University of Kashmir on Tuesday organised a conference on “Role of Child Protection in fulfilling Children’s Rights”. Acclaimed subject expert, Dr Ziba Vaghri, a Kashmiri working with a University in Canada, delivered a lecture among other speakers.

In Jammu, a mega event of Y20 series is being conducted on Wednesday at the Convention Centre. This is being organised by IIM Jammu, IIT Jammu and AIIMS Jammu with participation of the country’s top management, science, technology, medicine and policymaking luminaries. Over a dozen sessions of lectures and panel discussions are being held.  It will be among others addressed by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha.

The main G20 event in Jammu and Kashmir, a conference of the Working Group on Tourism, is scheduled to be held at SKICC, Srinagar, on 22-24 May. The delegates are scheduled to visit Dal Lake, Dachigam National Park and Gulmarg on the side-lines of the first international conference being held after abrogation of Article 370 in 2019. An international cricket match was held in Srinagar between India and West Indies in 1983.