G20 Sherpas hold deliberations in traditional Kerala attire

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G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant speaks during the inaugural session of the 2nd Sherpa meeting under India's G20 Presidency, at Kumarakom, in Kottayam | Photo: ANI

Kumarakom (Kerala): Wearing traditional Kerala dress and enjoying a taste of Kerala's hospitality, G20 Sherpas held deliberations on land and water at this scenic lakeside Kerala village.

While the Sherpas held meetings in the conference hall on top of a moving houseboat in the evening, other delegates from guest countries went on a cruise on the backwaters, enjoying the scenery and a hi-tea spread onboard.

Three big houseboats with conference halls were arranged for the cruise of the Sherpas and delegates through Kumarakom Lake, a major tourist destination of the country.

Police in separate boats escorted the guests on the two-hour long ride.

The majority of the Sherpas and delegates dressed up in traditional Kerala attire before getting on the houseboats. While women delegates wore frilled skirts with zari borders and shawls, men wore the traditional mundu (also known as veshti).

They were helped by employees of the event management team.

Many of the delegates also posed for photos with India's Sherpa Amitabh Kant, who was also dressed in Malayalee attire.

"I feel very honoured and privileged, and it is very nice to feel even more welcome and even more part of Kerala culture," a woman delegate said.

Another woman delegate said, "I am very happy to wear it (traditional Kerala garments) today. It is very nice."

Meanwhile, during the day, detailed discussions were held on the main priority areas identified by the Indian presidency. The first session focussed on technological transformation and the second on accelerated, inclusive, and resilient growth as well as women-led development, an official statement said.

The delegates highlighted the relevance of digital public infrastructure, the need to bridge the digital divide, and the usefulness of data for development. They also appreciated the focus accorded to this area by India‘s G20 poresidency and its relevance for the SDGs (sustainable development goals), it added.

Interventions by countries also clearly highlighted the need for women's empowerment and women's leadership to be at the centre of development, the statement said.

It said delegates also stressed the importance of accelerated efforts to return to a path of resilient growth and recovery that also takes everyone along.

The Sherpas took stock of the progress made in the various G20 Sherpa track working groups on digital economy, health, education, tourism, culture, agriculture, trade and investment, employment, and anti-corruption.

"The Sherpas commented on the various proposed actionable deliverables as well as suggested the way forward on important deliberations being held in these working groups, such as digital public infrastructure, data for development, food security, digital health and pandemic preparedness, prevention and response, tech-enabled education, global skill mapping, etc," it said.

On the "Kayal conversations' (discussions on the backwaters over high tea), the statement said the Sherpas discussed, in an informal setting, ways to take forward the agenda of the G20 and deepen cooperation and understanding on shared concerns.

Indian G20 Sherpa Kant also held productive bilateral discussions with his counterparts throughout the day, it said.

The first formal day of meetings concluded with ‘Charchayum Aharavum', a cultural evening and dinner.

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan attended the dinner along with the Chief Secretary of Kerala V P Joy.

The dignitaries and the G20 delegates witnessed a spectacular rendition of ‘Oathirum Mohitham', a play based on vadakkan pattu (traditional ballads of Kerala) and various dance forms, which gave them a glimpse into the rich heritage of Kerala.

Over 120 delegates from G20 member countries, 9 invitee countries, and various international and regional organisations were welcomed to the meeting being held from March 30 to April 02, 2023 and chaired by Kant.

The formal proceedings were inaugurated by Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan on Friday morning.

Welcoming the Sherpas to Kerala, he said that the Indian presidency's theme, "Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam" or "One Earth, One Family, One Future" had found resonance across the world, because of its all encompassing, inclusive message, that captured the diverse global challenges of the day.

He also appreciated the support extended by all G20 countries, guest countries and international organisations to the Indian presidency for the successful conclusion of 46 G20 meetings so far in 27 different cities around the country. PTI

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