Wet feet dampen G20 leaders’ Gandhi tributes in India

NEW DELHI  -  World leaders walked barefoot through puddles on Sunday to pay their respects to Mahatma Gandhi, after monsoon down­pours dampened Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s set-piece G20 programme. Modi welcomed his guests to the site where the apostle of non-violence was cre­mated in January 1948, the day after he was gunned down by a Hindu nationalist ideologue.

US President Joe Biden was among several visiting heads of state to opt for felt slippers instead of going unshod at the site, where normal footwear is forbidden as a mark of re­spect. Others including Brit­ish Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanu­el Macron joined Modi in shed­ding their socks and shoes on the walk to the marble plinth where an eternal flame com­memorates Gandhi’s memo­ry. After a rendition of a Hin­du devotional hymn, they stood for a moment’s silence before leaving wreaths to honour the peace icon. Modi has regularly paid respect to Gandhi and spo­ken movingly about his ideals and legacy. But the relationship between Modi’s Hindu nation­alist ruling party and Gandhi remains deeply ambivalent.

The Raj Ghat memorial com­plex is one of the most hallowed spaces in the capital New Delhi, and more than a million people escorted Gandhi’s body as it was transported there after his as­sassination. In the decades since, it has hosted the funeral pyres of India’s top statesmen and wom­en. Arriving leaders bowed be­fore Modi as he hung shawls around their necks in front of a photograph of Sabarmati Ash­ram, a long-term residence of Gandhi’s in the prime minis­ter’s home state of Gujarat. The ashram is a popular spot on the itinerary of visiting world lead­ers, with Modi using it to host, among others, his former Brit­ish counterpart Boris Johnson, and former US president Donald Trump and his wife Melania.

Gandhi’s assassin Nathuram Godse, hanged for the killing the following year, has been champi­oned by right-wing activists.

In their view, Gandhi failed to stModi has never explicitly de­nounced Godse or his ideology, and his government has cham­pioned the work of Vinayak Da­modar Savarkar, an important Hindu ideologue who served as Godse’s mentor. 


After two days of heavy rain in Delhi, visuals of a flooded Bharat Mandapan, the venue for India’s G20 Summit, went viral with the Congress leaving no opportunity to wade into the issue amid the ongoing tussle over no invitation to party chief Mallikarjun Kharge.

Sharing the visual of the flooded venue on Twitter, which also showed people working to pump out water from the venue, Youth Congress chief Srinivas BV took a jibe at the Centre say­ing ‘Vikas [Development] was swimming -- referring to the Centre’s promises of develop­ment and the famous party slo­gan ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’.

Meanwhile, the flooded visu­als from the venue led to reac­tions from politicans and ne­tizens. While the opposition attacked the Centre, people also shared funny takes.

Meanwhile, The G20 summit in New Delhi ended on Sun­day as India handed over the bloc presidency to Brazil, while both the US and Russia praised a consensus that did not con­demn Moscow for the war in Ukraine but called on members to shun the use of force.

Indian Prime Minister Nar­endra Modi asked the group’s leaders to hold a virtual meeting in November to review progress on policy suggestions and goals announced at the weekend.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lav­rov, the head of the Russian delegation, said the summit was a success for India as well as the Global South, the world’s developing countries.

The Global South’s position in the talks helped prevent the G20 agenda from being over­shadowed by Ukraine, he told a press conference. “India has truly consolidated G20 mem­bers from the Global South.”

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