A gavel, a moment, and a steadfast leader to sail us through our G20 presidency
When PM Modi took over the gavel, an almost unnoticeable moment occurred that reinforced my belief that PM Modi is the right leader to ensure One Future for this One Earth.
The recent ascent of India to the G20 presidency is a historic step in the long journey towards becoming a vishwaguru. While India is working hard towards creating an unprecedented G20 experience, the takeover of the presidency showcased a unique approach and strength of leadership. This becomes amply clear through a small and almost inconsequential incident during the handover.
When Indonesian President handed over the ceremonial gavel to Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi, an astonishing act of self-awareness occurred. Both of them first raised the presidential gavel in the air together. Thereafter, PM Modi, raised it alone using his right hand. This is a moment the entire world looked at and all the leaders of G20 nations gave PM Modi a standing ovation.
As a seminal moment with India at centre-stage, this was meant to be a lasting moment for India and will be remembered for decades going forward. On the the flip-side, it will also be a moment of great stress. Imagine world leaders such as Joe Biden, Xi Jinping, Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, Emmanuel Macron, Jair Bolsonaro, Fumio Kishida, Ursula von der Leyen, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Rishi Sunak among others accompanied by heads of the United Nations, World Bank, the World Health Organization, the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the International Labour Organization, and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development among others applauding you while the entire world watches. A moment like this can be nerve-racking.
However, for PM Modi, it was different. Instead of becoming self-conscious, PM Modi took a very small — almost unnoticeable — step. He then became situationally aware that the gavel was in the wrong position, with the ends facing the audience. This position reduces the visibility of the gavel and puts it in an awkward place. With the right presence of mind, and realising that this photo will represent India's G20 presidency for years to come, without much ado, PM Modi looked at the gavel from the corner of his eye and rotated it to its right position.
This moment was not PM Modi's alone. It was a moment describing the kind of representative of this great nation that PM Modi is. A bad photograph will hurt India and may even take away from this crucial moment in history. What is fascinating is that PM Modi was acutely aware that the gavel was in the wrong position even without looking at it. Despite the rush of adrenaline while standing in front of who's who of the world, he did not lose his awareness and made it a perfect moment for India.
This stride for perfection will also define India’s presidency of G20. After all the G20 theme is Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam — One Earth, One Family, One Future. If the global family is coming to India, you better ensure everything is perfect. And PM Modi is the right leader to ensure One Future for this One Earth.
Anuj Gupta is a graduate of Indian Institute of Technology and Indian Institute of Management, and has been working in the Government of India since 2014
The views expressed are personal