Kollam (Kerala) [India], January 21 (ANI/NewsVoir): India's Civil 20 Engagement Group (C20), the official engagement group of the country's G20 leadership representing the voices of non-profit, voluntary citizens' groups in service to society, has been inaugurated at Amritapuri in Kerala's Kollam district.
Dozens of G20 and C20 representatives, Government leaders, and other distinguished guests participated virtually in the high-powered gathering, including names like Sri Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma), who serves as Chair of C20; Amitabh Kant, former CEO of NITI Aayog; Shashi Tharoor, MP (Congress); Union Ministers Anurag Thakur and V Muraleedharan; Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi, and Kerala's State Public Education Minister, V Sivankutty.
On the occasion, Sri Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma) initiated a Rs. 50 crore project by the Mata Amritanandamayi Math to support the welfare of pregnant women who are malnourished and people with disabilities in underdeveloped districts across India and other developing nations. The Ashram will collaborate closely with local civil society organizations (CSOs) to bring about a tangible change in the lives of its beneficiaries.
In her address, Amma said, "At this juncture, with almost a quarter of this century completed, what is the state of our world? Close your eyes and place your finger on a map. Now open your eyes and see what continent and nation it landed upon. Wherever it is, find out if that place is peaceful and free from conflict. Is there enough drinking water and food to fulfil the thirst and hunger of everyone there? Is there a roof over every head? And clothes to wear? Is timely healthcare available for everyone? Are the women and children safe?"
Amma added, "Many civil organisations and individuals are actively engaged in finding solutions and doing humanitarian work. But they are only small raindrops falling into the ocean. But when they fall in the desert, even such small drops have some benefit. If we understand their place and use them accordingly, they can help bring some joy, peace and health to the world."
Amitabh Kant, former CEO of NITI Aayog who is India's Special Representative (Sherpa) at G20, addressed the C20 inauguration. He emphasised how the C20 is a mirror of the dynamic range of activities CSOs must undertake to contribute to establishing India's G20 Presidency as a beacon of hope, healing, and harmony for the world.
He said, "With the theme of 'One Earth. One Family. One Future', we take on the G20 presidency in this complex and challenging environment. The world today is faced with complex geo-political tensions and conflicts, global debt crisis, issues of food, fuel and fertiliser, climate crisis, slowing progress on the SDGs, meaning that millions of people have lost their jobs and been pushed into poverty. But with India's G20 presidency, we see these complex challenges as an opportunity for us to get the world to unite upon acting upon these challenges and to drive global consensus."
Shashi Tharoor, MP (Congress) and Former UN Under-Secretary-General, also spoke at the gathering. Having personally witnessed the power and reach of civil society firsthand, he explained that CSOs are essential for global welfare. He said: "I would argue that Civil Society can and must play a leading role in helping our communities to effectively navigate the past and address what we need to do to solve what in my UN days, we called 'problems without passports'. That is the problems across all frontiers uninvited. And that no one country or even a small group of countries can solve on their own. Problems, in other words, of poverty, of contagious disease, of human rights and human wrongs, of chronic starvation and malnourishment, of massive illiteracy, and of massive displacement. All these kinds of problems are problems that require solutions that also don't need passports. That also cross over borders - blueprints without borders to match the problems without passports."
Union Minister Anurag Thakur said that it is hoped that the ideas emerging from the C20 working groups will solve the environmental challenges the world is facing today. Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi said that community participation is essential for the success of any project, and C20 is playing a key role in ensuring that society's fundamental needs are expressed to the G20 leaders.
Kerala's State Public Education Minister, V Sivankutty, said that G20 is a platform where the world will join hands to face today's challenges and that CSOs are the most effective mechanism to reach all levels of society. Union Minister of State for External Affairs, V Muraleedharan, added that Prime Minister Modi envisions a G20 that is inclusive of all members of society, irrespective of whether they are women, men, young or old, and this can be achieved through C20.
Also taking part in the gathering: Vinay P Sahasrabuddhe, MP (BJP) & and President of Indian Council for Cultural Relations; Vijay K Nambiar, Sherpa C20 and former Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General; Dr Swadesh Singh, C20 Core Group Member & Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini; Nivedita Bhide, C20 Core Group Member & All India Vice President of Vivkeananda Kendra; Sri M, C20 Core Group Member & Founder of Sri M, the Satsang Foundation; Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce and Philanthropist; T Denny Sanford, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist and recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham; AH Maftuchan, C20 Troika Member from Indonesia; Alessandra Nilo, C20 Troika member from Brazil; and Laurent Bessede, General Legal Director of the Red Cross, France.
C20's purpose is to bring the concerns of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) from around the world to the G20 Summit set to take place in New Delhi this September. The Group of 20 (G20) is the premier intergovernmental forum for the world's developed and emerging economies to address financial stability on a global basis. In advance of the Summit, C20 will collaborate with hundreds of CSOs from around the world to voice primary and common concerns and to promote sustainable development with the vision of leaving no one behind.
Members of India's C20 include Sri M, the Satsang Foundation as Participant; Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini as Secretariat; and the Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari as Institutional Partner.
Amma's organisation exists to help alleviate the burden of the poor through helping to meet each of their five basic needs-food, shelter, healthcare, education, and livelihood-wherever and whenever possible. The Mata Amritanandamayi Math (MAM) is especially focused on meeting these needs in the aftermath of major disasters. To date, MAM has provided free medical care to more than 5.1 million people and subsidized care to another 300,000 patients-a total of Rs. 764 crore (USD 104 million US). It has also empowered 2.5 lakh women across India to earn a living through self-help groups (SHGs), built more than 47,000 houses for the homeless, provided financial aid for more than one lakh people unable to care for themselves, and given educational assistance to 50,000 children. Moreover, it is running vocational training, literacy programmes in rural India, orphanages and care centres for children in India and Africa, hospices, old-age homes, scholarship programmes, and environmental protection initiatives. MAM has done massive relief and rehabilitation work following the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, as well as in response to flooding in Mumbai, Gujarat, Chennai, Bihar, Uttarakhand and Jammu & Kashmir; earthquakes in Kashmir, Nepal, Haiti and Japan; cyclones in West Bengal and the Philippines; and hurricanes in the United States.
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