To think global, letís start with a large room
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These days, we are always reminded of India's emerging power status. The government takes pride in making statements like India has become part of the world's apex economic decision-making forum, G-20. But if tomorrow India is asked to host a G-20 summit, will it be able to do it?
Last week, India hosted a conference of countries on the Indian Ocean Rim, now a 20-member grouping, which was represented by foreign ministers and secretaries. It was held in two plush hotels in Gurgaon, located adjacent to each other.
What is not known is that Gurgaon provided a face-saver after authorities discovered that Delhi did not have a venue or hotel with the capacity to host a summit of that scale.
Many would say that Delhi has the Vigyan Bhawan, but it has an auditorium-style seating, which is no longer the international norm for conferences anymore. Conferences now require heads of governments or even foreign ministers to be seated at the same level, symbolising equanimity with all participating delegates. Besides, the bare minimum these days for a summit convention centre is space for segregated zones ó the leaders' zone, the delegates' zone, the media centre and at least a dozen meeting rooms for the "pull-aside" meetings.
Those who deal with planning of multilateral summits say Delhi lacks three essentials, considered a must for international conferences the size of G-20 ó at least 50,000 available hotel rooms, a large convention centre and a robust transport system.
G-20 has been hosted by most of the developed world, including the US, UK, France, Canada, and even Mexico pulled it off with elan early this year. South Korea did it first with G-20, and then the Nuclear Security Summit in 2012. China has at least 20 cities geared to host multilateral summits.
Delhi's inadequacy on this front is already giving jitters to organisers of the ASEAN-India 20th commemorative summit in December this year. It is about time the government woke up to this shortcoming because at some time point in the next few years, New Delhi should expect to host a G-20 summit.