The Civil 20 India (C20) Inception Conference in Nagpur, Maharashtra was a momentous occasion with Amma as the first spiritual leader ever appointed as Chair of the G20 Engagement Group for civil society and nongovernmental organizations. As Chair of C20, Amma inaugurated the event, and Sri Kailash Satyarthi, a Nobel Peace Laureate and child rights activist, spoke as Chief Guest. More than 200 delegates from around the globe took part from March 20-21. The results of the discussions will become policy recommendations that are presented to India’s G20 Summit, set to take place in New Delhi September 9-10.
C20’s purpose is to provide a platform for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) to voice the people’s aspirations to the Heads of State of the world’s 20 leading economies. Bringing together civil society representatives, leading social activists, academicians, policy practitioners, and representatives of the government, the C20 Inception Conference explored issues significant in the realization of a better society.
In her Inaugural Address, Amma spoke about the importance of cultivating a worldview based on inclusivity and oneness and compassionate action. She said, “The future belongs not to the ‘single’ entities who stand divided, but to those who mingle and cooperate with others. Countries and societies that try to rise on their own will surely fail. Hence, let our mantra be ‘Mingle,’ not ‘Single.’”
Amma added, “The world population is like a beautiful garland made of flowers in different shapes and colours. The diversity and variety of the flowers add to its beauty and fragrance. Such a healthy mingling of diversity is essential for human culture to flourish. A single nation, race or religion cannot survive in isolation. This Earth belongs to us all.”
Amma also pointed out that while the government is providing many social-upliftment programs, NGOs and CSOs should serve as stewards, connecting the deserving beneficiaries with those programs.
Amma said, “The Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched numerous significant schemes, like Jandhan Yojana, which is a revolutionary financial-inclusion scheme of delivering the benefits directly to the bank account of the vulnerable and low-income sections of society. Then there are Skill India Mission, Ayushman Bharat Health Insurance scheme, and the list goes on.”
“It is important that people have the awareness to avail these schemes, also. It is not enough for a diabetic to take the medicines—they also have to maintain a regular diet. In a similar way, it is important to be aware of properly using the benefits they are receiving.”
Amma concluded by invoking the G20 2023 slogan, “From ancient times, vasudhaiva kutambakam—‘the world is one family’—has been the mantra of Indian soil. It still is today, and will continue to be so in the future. The presidency of the G20 nations is a unique opportunity to model this truth before the world. May this initiative undertaken by Honourable Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi and the government under his leadership inspire change in the world’s outlook.”
Gracing the occasion as Chief Guest was Sri Kailash Satyarthi, a Nobel Peace Laureate who has led a tireless global civil-society movement of more than 40 years to end child slavery and exploitation. He called the Inception of India’s Civil 20 a historic day, as it is the first time in his knowledge that the C20 is driven by the core values of spirituality.
“This spirituality does not mean any religion. It is the driving force of the soul of universal humanity,” said Sri Satyarthi. “When we say ‘the world is one family,’ this is not simply a slogan. India should lead the globalisation of compassion. Compassion is not sympathy. Compassion is not empathy. When you feel the suffering of others as your own suffering, with a deeper drive to elevate the suffering, then you are compassionate. That should be the message from this C20.”
“But one thing is very clear. When I call you the leaders of civil society, you represent the voice of the voiceless people of the world. You represent the faces of the most invisible people of the world. You are the custodians of the collective conscience of very ordinary people on this Earth. You are the purpose of democracy.”
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is also Chair of Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini (RMP), the Secretariat of C20. As Guest of Honour, he addressed the occasion by thanking Prime Minister Modi for making G20 India 2023 a people’s movement, an endeavour that can especially be seen through the actions of C20.
“We know that governments are a legal power but civil society is a moral power. And any legal power without morality is a disaster,” said Sri Fadnavis. “In any society, any community, any country, any nation, we need to have a very robust, equal system for civil-society discussions so that the last man’s voice is heard by the government. And it is only civil society and its moral power that can make the governments act. So act.”
In addition, the Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini compiled proposals from C20’s 14 working groups that were based upon a survey conducted by 200 CSOs and NGOs. Sri Fadnavis presented the collection to Amma in the form of a book entitled “Voice of Nagpur.”
Other Guests of Honour included Amb. Vijay Nambiar, Sherpa C20 India (2023); Ah Maftuchan, Sherpa C20 Indonesia (2022); Alessendra Nilo, Sherpa C20 Brazil (2024); Dr Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, Vice-Chair RMP; Nivedita Bhide, Vice-President, Vivekananda Kendra and C20 Steering Committee Member; and Sri M, the Satsang Foundation and C20 Steering Committee Member, who sent a video message.
As the Conference came to a close on Tuesday, India’s Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Sri Nitin Gadkari, addressed the gathering. He is also the Member of Parliament for Nagpur.
“We need to establish cooperation, coordination, and communication between all stakeholders. And the people like you, who have their thinking in the interest of the welfare of the world… that is exactly the spirit behind this,” he said. “I am really happy today that under the leadership of Ammaji, your thinking and your new futuristic vision will inspire and motivate the people of the world for the welfare of the whole world community.”
Since January, C20’s 14 Working Groups have been deliberating on their respective themes and engaging the global CSO/NGO community through webinars, panels, roundtable discussions, and meetings, both virtual and in-person.