Kashmir G20 meet catches global attention

India under its G20 Presidency is currently holding meetings across the country in the lead-up to the summit scheduled to be held in Sept…reports Asian Lite News

As the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir became a host to the 3rd G20 Tourism Working Group (TWG) meeting under India’s G20 Presidency, all eyes are set on the historic three-day event being held in Srinagar from May 20-22.

The first day of the G20 tourism meet began on Monday despite a boycott from China and Pakistan. India under its G20 Presidency is currently holding meetings across the country in the lead-up to the G20 Summit scheduled to be held in September in New Delhi. The mega G20 tourism meet in Srinagar has clearly caught the attention of international media, with many of them highlighting India’s efforts of showcasing the restoration of stability and normalcy in Kashmir.

The G20 delegations arrived at Sheikh-ul Alam International Airport in Srinagar as the mega event began. They were greeted by rows of lamp posts illuminated in the colours of the Indian national flag and billboards featuring the G20 logo, Nikkei Asia reported. India is hosting a significant international event in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370.

The excitement of authorities over Kashmir’s role in India’s G20 presidency is palpable, Nikkei Asia reported. Footpaths have been renovated and roadside walls have been painted in peach and white. The development comes as Srinagar undergoes a makeover under a smart city scheme.

The G20 delegates at the convention centre of Dal Lake will hold discussions on green tourism, destination management, ecotourism, and the use of films to promote tourist destinations. Michael Kugelman, director of the South Asia program at the Wilson Center, said that the G20 meeting is designed to highlight opportunities in tourism, investment and infrastructure sectors.

Kugelman stated that the meeting has been planned to demonstrate that Kashmir is willing to engage with the world, Nikkie Asia reported. Kugelman said, “And it appears for much of the world there is a view that Kashmir is now an opportunity and not a problem.”

Tourism Ministry secretary Arvind Singh, while addressing a press conference at Sher-i-Kashmir International Conference Centre (SKICC) on Sunday, said the stage is set for discussions and deliberations on final deliverables.

“This is the only working group meeting taking place in Srinagar as part of the G20 effort with excellent response from all the member countries, all the invited countries and the international organisations, having the highest participation registered compared to the first two Tourism Working Group Meetings at Rann of Kutch and Siliguri,” Arvind Singh said.

Arvind Singh further said G20 member countries, invited countries, and international organizations will give valuable inputs and feedback on these two draft documents and after negotiations with G20 Member Countries on these drafts, final versions will be placed in the ‘Fourth Tourism Working Group Meeting’.

‘False narratives dispelled’

In a significant development signaling changing times and shifting perspectives, Union minister Jitendra Singh said on Monday that strike calls in Srinagar, once a common occurrence influenced by external forces, now hold no sway over the resilient people of the region.

Talking on the sidelines of the third G20 Tourism Working Group meetin here, Singh emphasised the altered mindset of the people, attributing it to a growing disregard for strike calls originating from Pakistan.

“There was a time when strike calls would emanate from across the border, and the people of Srinagar would observe a shutdown in response,” Singh said, shedding light on the historical context.

“However, we have witnessed a remarkable transformation. Strike calls may still be issued from Pakistan, and even within Srinagar, but the people have demonstrated a resolute determination to carry on with their daily lives, paying no heed to such calls,” said Singh, the Minister of State for Science and Technology, and the Prime Minister’s Office.

Singh’s statement comes as a powerful testament to the evolving attitude of the people of Srinagar, who have shown a firm commitment to progress and development, regardless of external influences. The Union minister’s remarks serve to dismiss any lingering doubts about the stability and normalcy prevailing in the region.

Singh also expressed optimism about the positive impact on investor sentiment, assuring that they would return home with a clear message: The false narratives propagated by vested interests regarding Jammu and Kashmir no longer hold any substance.

“India, under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has experienced remarkable growth over the past nine years,” Singh asserted, emphasising the tremendous achievements under the current administration.

He further noted the resounding enthusiasm of the people, particularly the youth of Jammu and Kashmir, who are eager to be a part of this progress and not be left behind.

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