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G20 Summit: Four Indians behind Delhi declaration that achieved ‘100% consensus’

India’s presidency for the 18th Group of 20 Summit (G20 Summit) on Saturday saw the New Delhi G20 Leaders Declaration get accepted with ‘100% consensus’. The declaration that was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the Day 1 of G20 Summit, focused on ‘war in Ukraine’ and geopolitical tensions, sustainable growth, creating an inclusive world among other points.

There were four Indian Foreign Services officers who burnt the midnight oil to draft the New Delhi G20 Leaders Declaration which achieved a reported ‘100% consensus’, a historic achievement.

The four diplomats who created the Delhi declaration were Abhay Thakur, Ashish Sinha, Nagaraj Naidu Kakanur, and the only woman among the four Enam Gambhir.

According to an Indian Express report, the four diplomats went through months of hard trot, back-and-forth with member countries, and a final dash across five sleepless all-nighters from 3 September, to hit the finish line Saturday: A communique with complete consensus.

Taking a look at the four diplomats

Enam Gambhir

Enam Gambhir, is an alumnus of University of Geneva. She has been working with India Government’s Ministry of External Affairs since January 2021. Before that Gambhir was Second Secretary for India’s Embassy in Argentina.

Enam is currently the Joint Secretary G20 and a 2005 batch IFS officer.

According to IE report, Enam Gambhir has served as a senior advisor on Peace and Security issues in the Office of the President of the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN HQ in New York.

The report further states that Gambhir is a fluent Spanish speaker, and has dealt with issues relating to Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran working in New Delhi from 2011 to 2016. She holds two Master’s degrees; one in maths from Delhi University and another in international security from the University of Geneva. She writes poetry in Spanish, English and Hindi.

Ashish Sinha

Ashish Sinha is another 2005 batch IFS officer. He is also fluent in Spanish, and has served in Madrid, Kathmandu, New York and Nairobi. In New Delhi, he worked in the External Affairs Minister’s office and as a desk officer for Pakistan.

Abhay Thakur

A Russian speaker, Abhay Thakur, is the Additional Secretary, the Sous-sherpa, No. 2 to India’s G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant. He has been India’s envoy to Mauritius and Nigeria, and has handled Nepal and Bhutan in the Ministry of External Affairs. Thakur has also been a director in the External Affairs Minister’s office.

Nagaraj Naidu Kakanur

Fluent in Chinese, Nagaraj Naidu Kakanur is a Joint Secretary, and the lead negotiator on the Ukraine conflict paragraphs. Naidu has multilateral experience as Chef de Cabinet to the President of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Naidu is an IFS of the 1998 batch. He has handled the MEA’s Economic Diplomacy division and headed the Europe West Division where he was in charge of ties with major G7 countries including the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the European Union, reports IE.

Naidu has a Master’s from Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

Delhi Declaration: Path to complete consensus

Notably, the negotiations for the Ukraine conflict paragraphs were handled by Gambhir and Naidu. They faced tough situations a month after the G20 Summit in Bali, when ‘the consensus (on Ukraine) broke down in December’, reports IE.

Elaborating on how the four strategized to ensure a complete consensus on the Delhi Declaration, especially with the Ukraine-Russia conflict, the Indian Express report states that the four diplomats decided to enlist the support of Brazil and South Africa, since they were going to hold the next G20 summits. It helped that they were all from developing countries, and representing the Global South.

Therefore, forming a troika (the past, present and future presidencies) — India joined hands with South Africa, and Indonesia, thereby lending credibility to their arguments.

After a few months and five sleepless nights and negotiations, they finally arrived at the consensus on Friday night, between the G7 and the Russia-China bloc. What helped seal the deal was the phone call between Prime Minister Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin last week and the bilateral with US President Joe Biden on Friday.

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Updated: 10 Sep 2023, 03:50 PM IST

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