Port Blair: With India all set to assume the G20 presidency on December 1, the Andaman and Nicobar islands are preparing for its curtain raiser.
Over 40 mission heads and international organisations on Friday visited the Andaman and Nicobar Islands for the G20 curtain raiser. The delegates took a tour of the Cellular Jail where author and ideologue Veer Savarkar was lodged by the British. G20's India coordinator, Harsh Vardhan Shringla and G-20 Sherpa, Amitabh Kant accompanied the delegates during the tour.
On the reason behind the selection of Andaman and Nicobar Islands for the G20 curtain raiser, Shringla said, "Andaman is very important. Because you recall when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Bali for the G20 Summit, he told the Indonesian President that we are not 90 nautical miles apart, we are 90 nautical miles close. So that 90 nautical kilometres are right here, right in the Andamans. So this is symbolic. Andaman is the closest to Indonesia."
He earlier said that New Delhi was organising meetings throughout the country on a pan-India basis, as it is PM's vision that the G20 presidency of India should be a participative process in which everybody feels that it is his presidency.
Meanwhile, G-20 Sherpa said, "We have started our journey from Andamans because there are unsung freedom fighters who were imprisoned in the cellular jail of India. And therefore, we thought it fit that many of our freedom fighters, including Veer Savarkar, who was imprisoned here, should tell the stories to all the foreigners and ambassadors, as well as leading international organisations and all the invitees."
"And secondly, the whole story about India's freedom movement will be told to them and moreover, Indonesia which held the last presidency, is just 90 square miles away. Thirdly, the feel and flavour of the unique islands of the Andamans. We will tell them how positive and how progressive will India's presidency be," he added.
Meanwhile, Alex Ellis, British High Commissioner to India, said India is the right country to be having the G20 presidency at this time because it can bring other countries together at this difficult time when the world faces myriad challenges.
"Cellular Jail, Port Blair is a part of the past here. It's important for someone in my position to bear witness and acknowledge some of the shameful acts perpetrated there. It's a place I show respect to & understanding of," he added.