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.
G20 VENUE FLOODED AFTER HEAVY RAIN IN DELHI
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.”