G20 Summit Shines a Spotlight on Odisha’s Konark Wheel and Tribal Women’s Millet Success


As world leaders descended upon New Delhi for the much-anticipated G20 Summit, a forum of major economies representing two-thirds of the world’s population and 85% of global economic output, India orchestrated an awe-inspiring welcome that highlighted both its rich cultural heritage and its commitment to democracy. Against the backdrop of the Konark Wheel of Odisha, a symbol of India’s historical and cultural richness, and within the halls of the Bharat Mandapam convention centre, where an interactive exhibition celebrated India’s deep-rooted democratic traditions, the G20 Summit not only showcased global economic discussions but also offered glimpses into India’s diverse identity. Additionally, this summit shed light on the inspiring journey of tribal women from Odisha who have pioneered sustainable change through millet cultivation, exemplifying India’s resilience and determination to shape a better future for all.


The Konark Wheel: A Symbol of Democracy and Heritage

At the heart of this spectacle was the Konark Wheel of Odisha, a masterpiece of ancient engineering and artistry. This symbol of democracy welcomed leaders from across the globe. Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally greeted each dignitary against the backdrop of this iconic wheel, which stands as a testament to India’s wisdom, civilization, and architectural prowess.


The Konark Wheel, also known as the Sun Wheel, is more than just a work of art. It is a testament to India’s rich heritage and a symbol of the country’s enduring commitment to democracy. The Konark Wheel, constructed during the 13th century under the reign of King Narasimhadeva-I, goes beyond aesthetics. Its rotating motion symbolizes the Kalachakra, time’s passage, and signifies progress and change in the universe. It embodies not only architectural excellence but also the enduring resilience of democratic ideals and a commitment to societal advancement.


However, the significance of the Konark Wheel goes beyond its historical and architectural value. Its rotating motion symbolizes the Kalachakra, representing the passage of time, progress, and continuous change in the universe. This symbolism mirrors India’s journey as a democratic nation, marked by its commitment to progress and societal development. Its 24 spokes are not just a design choice; they form an integral part of India’s national flag. This wheel, which adorns the national flag, embodies the nation’s wisdom, advanced civilization, and architectural prowess.


Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, the Konark Sun Temple, where the wheel is situated, is not just a historical monument but also a major pilgrimage site. Located about 35 kilometres from Puri in Odisha, the temple draws visitors from all over the world who come to marvel at its intricate architecture and rich cultural significance.


India’s Cultural Showcase at Bharat Mandapam

Inside the venue, India continued to showcase its cultural richness. “Surya Shakti,” a multi-layered artwork depicting the sun, radiated its energy across a 52-meter-long wall, symbolizing the life supported by the sun. This central disc with its radiant rays spanning the entire length of a 52-meter wall showcased the life supported by the energy of the sun.


From left, World Bank President Ajay Banga, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and U.S. President Joe Biden pose for the group photo during G20 Summit, in New Delhi, India.


In an effort to reaffirm its position as the mother of democracy, India hosted an interactive exhibition titled ‘Bharat: Mother of Democracy.’ Displayed on 26 LED panels, this exhibition highlighted India’s deep-rooted democratic traditions. It aimed to demonstrate to the world that India is not just a participant in democracy but a torchbearer of democratic values.


As leaders and delegates explored this immersive exhibition, they were reminded of India’s commitment to democratic principles and its tireless pursuit of societal progress. The exhibition served as a testament to India’s role in nurturing and preserving democratic ideals globally.


Tribal Women Pioneering Change Through Millet Cultivation

While the Konark Wheel took centre stage, another remarkable story unfolded at the G20 Summit. Two tribal women from Odisha, Subasa Mohanta and Raimati Ghiuria, shared their inspiring journeys of transforming their communities through millet cultivation.

Subasa Mohanta transformed from a struggling farmer into a successful millet cultivator, while Raimati Ghiuria led her village to embrace millet cultivation and economic empowerment.

Subasa Mohanta, fondly known as ‘Mandia Didi,’ showcased her experience of millet cultivation to global leaders. Millets, with their unique health benefits and environmental impact, have the potential to revolutionize agriculture. Mohanta’s journey from a struggling paddy farmer to a successful millet cultivator is a testament to the transformative power of sustainable farming practices.


Raimati Ghiuria, on the other hand, not only embraced millet cultivation herself but also led her village in Koraput to do the same. She established a company that procures millet from local tribal farmers, supporting them in selling their produce at a fair price. Her story embodies the essence of community empowerment and sustainable agriculture.


The Odisha government’s Millet Mission, scaled up to 177 blocks in 30 districts, has played a pivotal role in revitalizing millet cultivation and empowering tribal communities. It is a shining example of how government initiatives can lead to positive change at the grassroots level.


Celebrating India’s Richness and Resilience

As the G20 Summit unfolds, India’s cultural tapestry and commitment to democratic values take centre stage. The Konark Wheel serves as a beacon of India’s heritage, symbolizing its rich history, wisdom, and unwavering dedication to democracy.


Inside the Bharat Mandapam, the heart of the summit, India’s cultural showcase captivates visitors, reminding them of the nation’s deep-rooted democratic traditions. The tribal women of Odisha, with their inspiring stories of millet cultivation, demonstrate the resilience and determination of India’s people to create a better future.


In these stories, we see the multifaceted identity of India- a nation that embraces its past while shaping its future. As the world looks to India during the G20 Summit, it finds a country that is not only rich in culture but also committed to progress, sustainability, and the ideals of democracy. India, indeed, shines as a global leader, a torchbearer of both heritage and hope.


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