The 18th G-20 summit is set to take place in New Delhi from September 9–10, with the Central Government making efforts to make it a grand and successful event. India has hosted similar international events in the past, including the Seventh Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit in 1983 under Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s leadership. The NAM Summit was held from March 7 to 12, and around 4,000 foreign guests attended, including Prime Ministers, Presidents, Foreign Ministers of 100 countries, and other prominent politicians.
A committee was formed under the chairmanship of Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Jagmohan to ensure that the foreign guests returned with a positive image of India. The committee began beautifying major places in Delhi, including roads, streetlights, and hotels, and renovating gardens around them. The conference was held in the Vigyan Bhawan, famous for its architecture, which was built by the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru for the 1956 UNESCO conference.
The inaugural ceremony of the NAM Summit 1983 was presided over by Cuban President Fidel Castro, who was then the President of NAM at the time. In the same conference, Castro handed over the presidency to Indira, placing the responsibility of NAM for the next three years on India’s shoulders.
On the first morning of the conference, five leaders, including Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, gave speeches. Natwar Singh, General Secretary of the NAM Summit of 1983, wrote a memoir of the conference on the BBC, detailing how the leaders of the Palestinian Liberation Authority were ready to leave the conference only because the ruler of Jordan was given a chance to speak before them.
Natwar Singh suggested sending President Fidel Castro to Vigyan Bhawan as soon as possible, and Indira Gandhi explained the matter to him over the phone. Castro called Yasser Arafat and asked him to join the session. Arafat remained at the entire conference, and Prime Minister Indira Gandhi made an emotional appeal to Iran and Iraq to end their ‘tragic’ war.
Pakistan President Zia ul Haq wrote a letter to Indira Gandhi praising India for hosting the conference. She congratulated Gandhi on the great success of the largest-ever summit of the Non-Aligned Movement, stating that the significant impact of the summit was both the result of careful preparations by the Government of India and the personal qualities of Gandhi’s leadership.
NAM was founded by the leaders of five countries during the Cold War, and as the world was divided into two groups based on ideology, like India, newly freed countries wanted to create a new identity on the global stage.