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G20 Summit’s Facelift for New Delhi Eclipses City’s Underprivileged

by Ethan Kim
10 comments
G20 Summit Displacement

As the Indian capital of New Delhi undergoes extensive renovations in preparation for the upcoming G20 summit, newly paved roads, well-lit pedestrian areas, and freshly painted murals adorn the city. These beautification efforts, backed by a $120 million investment, aim to display India’s cultural significance and reinforce its standing on the global stage.

However, for the city’s impoverished residents, these aesthetic improvements translate into forced evictions and the elimination of livelihoods. The marginalized communities claim that they have been “erased” from the cityscape, akin to how stray animals have been removed from several localities.

The Indian government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, aspires to use the beautification initiatives as a showcase to elevate India’s global standing. However, this has raised ethical questions around governmental strategies for addressing poverty. Official data from the 2011 census estimated that 47,000 individuals were homeless in New Delhi, but activists argue that the true figure is more than triple that number.

Since the beginning of the year, hundreds of homes and informal commercial spaces have been razed, resulting in the displacement of thousands. The demolition of multiple shantytowns, often with little notice given to residents, has added to the existing crisis. While authorities label these actions as a move against “illegal encroachments,” both human rights activists and the evicted call into question the fairness and morality of such policies, alleging that it has propelled even more individuals into homelessness.

It is worth noting that similar clearance operations have occurred in other Indian cities like Mumbai and Kolkata, which have also hosted G20 events. For activists, the issue extends beyond merely “sweeping the poor under the rug.”

Abdul Shakeel, a representative from activist group Basti Suraksha Manch, criticizes the use of taxpayer money for such endeavors. “The same funds used for the G20 are being deployed to displace those who contributed to them. The logic is flawed,” Shakeel states.

The G20 summit is slated to be held at the recently built Bharat Mandapam building, located near the iconic India Gate, and will be attended by global leaders from the world’s 19 richest nations as well as the European Union. India currently holds the G20 presidency, a role that rotates among member nations annually.

A recent report from the Concerned Citizens Collective, a human rights organization, indicates that almost 300,000 people have been displaced due to preparations for the summit, particularly those residing in areas planned for diplomatic visits. The report further alleges that the government has failed to offer alternative housing solutions for those displaced.

In a display of increasing restrictions on dissent, a meeting of activists, academics, and politicians scrutinizing the Modi government’s G20 involvement was recently halted by police intervention. Rekha Devi, a resident whose home was destroyed, lamented the obliviousness of authorities despite proof of her family’s near-century-long residence. “In the pretext of a global summit, the working class and the poor are the ones truly paying the price,” she said.

While India has made some strides in poverty alleviation—nearly 135 million people have risen out of multidimensional poverty between 2016 and 2021 according to a government report—the nation still faces substantial challenges. Previous incidents of forced evictions for major events, including President Donald Trump’s 2020 visit to Gujarat and the 2010 Commonwealth Games, have brought similar criticisms.

Street vendors like Shankar Lal find themselves in a difficult dilemma. Forced to relocate, their opportunities to earn a living are severely restricted. “We are bound by government regulations, regardless of whether they recognize our struggle to survive,” said Lal.

The irony is palpable: as the government invests millions to refine New Delhi’s image for the global stage, it simultaneously dims the spotlight on its most vulnerable citizens.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about G20 Summit Displacement

What is the primary focus of the article?

The article primarily focuses on the ethical and social consequences of New Delhi’s extensive beautification project, undertaken in preparation for hosting the G20 summit. It examines how the $120 million initiative has led to the forced displacement and loss of livelihood for the city’s marginalized communities.

How much has been spent on the beautification project for the G20 summit in New Delhi?

The Indian government has invested $120 million in the beautification project aimed at preparing New Delhi for the upcoming G20 summit.

What has happened to the marginalized communities in New Delhi as a result of the beautification project?

Many individuals from marginalized communities, including street vendors and residents of shantytowns, have faced forced evictions and demolitions of their homes and places of business. This has resulted in loss of livelihood and further impoverishment for these citizens.

Who is Abdul Shakeel and what is his stance on the beautification project?

Abdul Shakeel is a representative from the activist group Basti Suraksha Manch. He criticizes the beautification efforts, stating that taxpayer money is being used to displace those who contributed to it, calling the logic flawed.

What do authorities claim is the reason for the forced evictions and demolitions?

Authorities assert that the demolitions and forced evictions are a move against “illegal encroachments.” However, this justification is questioned by human rights activists and the affected communities, who argue that it exacerbates homelessness.

What does the report by the Concerned Citizens Collective reveal?

The report from the Concerned Citizens Collective indicates that nearly 300,000 people have been displaced due to the preparations for the G20 summit. The government has allegedly failed to provide alternative housing solutions for those displaced.

Have similar events taken place in other Indian cities?

Yes, similar clearance operations have been carried out in other Indian cities such as Mumbai and Kolkata, which have also hosted G20 events.

What is the current status of poverty alleviation in India according to the government?

According to a recent government report, nearly 135 million people in India have moved out of multidimensional poverty between 2016 and 2021. However, the country still faces significant challenges in fully addressing poverty.

What precedent exists for such actions by the Indian government?

In the past, the Indian government has been criticized for similar actions, including clearing away homeless encampments and shantytowns ahead of major events such as President Donald Trump’s 2020 visit to Gujarat and the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.

How has dissent been treated in relation to the G20 summit preparations?

Recent incidents indicate that there are restrictions on dissent. A meeting of activists, academics, and politicians scrutinizing the government’s role in the G20 preparations was halted by police intervention.

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10 comments

Mike O'Brien September 4, 2023 - 6:01 am

300,000 ppl displaced and no alternative shelters? What is the government even thinking. G20 should be about global cooperation, not local devastation.

Reply
Rahul Mehta September 4, 2023 - 10:26 am

it’s crazy how we Indians only clean up our act when we have guests. And at what cost? G20 isn’t gonna help the poor here. Sad reality.

Reply
Sophia Turner September 4, 2023 - 10:54 am

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Reminds me of Brazil before the Olympics. Gov always has money for show but not for their own ppl.

Reply
Laura Brown September 4, 2023 - 1:19 pm

Really puts things into perspective. A beautification project for the rich and powerful while displacing hundreds of thousands. Just shameful.

Reply
Sandra Lee September 4, 2023 - 2:16 pm

The Concerned Citizens Collective report is just shocking. Near 300k people? That’s a small city worth of ppl uprooted. Something needs to be done.

Reply
Ahmed Khan September 4, 2023 - 3:18 pm

The article is an eye opener for sure. Abdul Shakeel’s point hits home. its the taxpayers’ money and yet they are the ones getting displaced.

Reply
Karen White September 4, 2023 - 4:16 pm

G20 or not, basic human rights should never be compromised. This needs more media attention. It’s not just beautification, it’s erasure of the less fortunate.

Reply
Peter Gray September 4, 2023 - 5:11 pm

And they call this progress? Sounds like regression to me. Destroying communities to put on a good face for the world is just wrong.

Reply
John Smith September 5, 2023 - 1:28 am

Wow, this is eye-opening. Really makes you question the ethics of these so-called “beautification projects.” Who are they really for?

Reply
Emily Williams September 5, 2023 - 4:16 am

I can’t believe the gov. is just pushing ppl out like that. Its not like the world leaders are gonna go visit the slums, so why destroy people’s lives?

Reply

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