For a laywoman like me, who has been hearing about the G20 Summit for the past many months, and which is now being held, all this seems very confusing. So what were all those over 200 ‘meetings’ that were held in 60 cities, ranging from Kashmir to Kanyakumari? How do those differ from the one being held in Delhi, where everything rusty and tarnished has been gold and silver plated for the two-day Summit.

For that, let us first understand what the G20 Summit is all about, and why does this group exist? It all started in the 70s when there was an Oil ban imposed by 11 Arab countries, for all those who supported Israel.

When America and Europe experienced an oil crisis, their governments decided that to bring their economy on track, they had to not only get all the compartments and work together, but also form an Engine that would improve on their economy. Thus the first G7 Summit was formed.

What was common among the seven countries was that they were all liberal democracies that promoted human rights and individual freedom. Politically, ideologically and economically, their thinking was the same.

Later when many other countries also experienced a financial crisis, they realised something. With time the global connect was so strong that if one nation faced a problem, it automatically affected the other. So one by one many other nations started to join in and thus the G20 was established.

At first only the Finance Ministers of each nation attended the Summit, which continued until 2008, where there was another global crisis and they realised that even the Presidents and Prime Ministers also needed to attend such meetings. Thus began the first G20 Summit of all leaders, where these countries collectively decided to reduce their trade barriers between them, aiming to revive their economies.

The first G20 Summit of all leaders was held in America. Since then it has been held annually and in different countries. But if you listen to the media you will get a feeling that this event is nothing short of an achievement like we have just conquered another planet.

To ensure a smooth running of these meetings a Troika system is used, which basically means that three nations get together and work. The current G20 President, the previous years and the one in the upcoming year.

Last year it was held in Indonesia, this year India was chosen and next year it will be held in Brazil. Every nation takes part in hosting it. After Brazil, it will be held in South Africa, after which the order will again repeat itself. And if this pattern continues, our next turn to host the event will be in 2042.

Apart from the 20, some guest countries are also invited. Spain is a permanent invitee and the ‘host’ nation can invite countries of their choice. Therefore this year India decided to invite nine more. These are: Mauritius, Netherlands, Nigeria, Singapore, Spain, the UAE, Bangla Desh, Egypt and Oman.

In the permanent guest lists some major institutions like the African Union, United Nations, WHO, WTO, IMF and the chair countries of the ASEAN are also included. What is interesting is that although the main purpose of G20 is to promote international financial stability, over the years it has started addressing many other major important issues as well.

The only problem here is that every country has its own foreign policies, priorities and agendas. Hence it becomes a little difficult for ALL to agree unanimously on any issue.

India's G20 Presidency theme is ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’- ‘One Earth. One Family. One Future.’ Along with placing importance on themes like Green and Sustainable Development goals, the focus is also on digital public infrastructure and women led developments.

So where is the time to discuss all this in just two days? And that is precisely why even before the main Summit where all the State leaders attend, there are many others that precede it. In the Minister Level Summit, the Finance, Health, Agriculture, Energy, Labour and Employment and Culture Ministers all meet in different places.

Apart from the Ministers there are also different engagement groups. Like B20 for Business groups; C20 for the Civil Society; W20 for Women and Y20 for Youth meetings. Believe it or not we even have a T20! N0, not the shortened game format of Cricket but a meeting of all the ThinkTanks.

Then there is also a Sherpa Meeting, where someone from every country is chosen to act and become the voice of their nation. So, before the main meeting there is a meeting of these Sherpas.

That my friends is what the G20 is all about.

And right now the World Leaders have gathered at the sprawling Bharat Mandapam at the Pragati Maidan to also discuss vexed issues including the Ukraine war, climate and global governance.

It is also interesting to note that ahead of the summit, strict traffic curbs have been put in place to restrict the movement of vehicles in the area where the G20 summit venue and hotels for delegates are located. Even essential grocery shops in places such as Bengali Market, Connaught Place and Khan Market remain closed.

The national Capital has been decorated with flowered pots and hoardings. For this mega world event, where guests will dine in gold and silver plates, Delhi has been partly emptied of people, all street dogs (including pets). Cats, and cows have been completely evacuated from the face of the spruced up streets, and poverty has been screened. All this so that on September 9 and 10, the G20 Summit 2023 can chart a new path in human-centric and inclusive development. Mera Bharat Mahan!

Views expressed are the writer’s own.