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Amritsar gears up for hospitality of G20 delegates

Darpan News Desk IANS, 14 Mar, 2023 01:07 PM
  • Amritsar gears up for hospitality of G20 delegates

Amritsar, March 14 (IANS) India's holy city Amritsar in Punjab, bordering Pakistan, is all decked up to extend warm hospitality for two simultaneous G20 summits with traditional dance 'bhangra' and beats of 'dhol' beginning Wednesday.

The local administration, host to the summit, is ready to show the city's grand colonial heritage for the delegates that comprise officials of world's major economies, besides representatives of UNESCO, UNICEF and World Bank.

The two sessions of G20 are slated to be held in the state on March 15-17 and March 19-20. The first one is the second G20 Education Working Group Meeting, while the second is a two-day Labour 20 (L20) meeting.

Amritsar, home to Sikhism's holy shrine, the Golden Temple, witnessed one of the bloodiest episodes in colonial India, a massacre of unarmed civilians in 1919.

Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, who regularly reviews arrangements for making the event a huge success, sees an opportunity to brand the state as a preferred destination for drumming up trade and investment.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in the state has allocated Rs 100 crore for beautification of the city.

Apart from assuring cozy stay of dignitaries in the state, they will be offered traditional Punjabi food, and will also be given a glimpse of rich Punjabi culture during the cultural events in the evening, the chief minister said.

Mann sees the summit as an occasion not only to promote Punjab as a most preferred destination for business on the international level but also a platform for the government to showcase its achievements and facilities for setting up new businesses.

"This is a golden opportunity when Punjab can be presented as a land of best opportunities and by bringing maximum investment they can create new employment opportunities for the youth," an official statement quoting the Chief Minister said.

Punjab's capital Chandigarh, the most modern and greenest city conceived after India's Independence in 1947, hosted over 100 delegates for the first G20 International Financial Architecture Working Group meeting on January 30-31.

Ahead of the G20 summits, Punjab Police have not been leaving any stone unturned on security point of view to make this event a grand success, as part of which a special operation 'OPS Seal-II' is being conducted wherein all vehicles entering the border state of Punjab were thoroughly checked.

The walled Amritsar, the seat of several Sikh organisations, including the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of the Sikh religion, and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), considered a mini-parliament of Sikh religious affairs, was founded in the late 16th century by Guru Ramdas, the fourth guru of the Sikhs.

Jallianwala Bagh, the site that witnessed one of the bloodiest massacres of the pre-Independence era when at least 379 civilians were gunned down on April 13, 1919, by the British India Army on the orders of Acting Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer, is another major tourist destination that is expected to be spruced up ahead of the summit.

"This is a deeply shameful event in British history, one that Winston Churchill rightly described at the time as 'monstrous'," David Cameron wrote in the visitor's book during his visit to the scene of the 1919 massacre.

David Cameron on February 20, 2013, became the first serving British Prime Minister to voice regret about one of the bloodiest incidents in colonial India.

Aiming to extend a warm welcome to the G20 delegates, members of the hospitality industry say spirituality, heritage and some traditional cuisines, all ingredients nicely and properly blended will offer a recipe for a perfect memorable trip to Amritsar, some 475 kms from the national capital Delhi.

They say the guests will experience the Punjabi culture, heritage, colours and flavours by exploring the city's old winding lanes housing grand heritage sites while enjoying the butter-rich 'lassi' in busy streets.

Before sunset, the dignitaries can be taken to zero point on the Attari-Wagah international border, around 30 km from Amritsar and 22 km from Lahore in Pakistan.

The flag-hoisting, ceremonial drill and Beating Retreat are daily events at the Attari-Wagah joint check post of India and Pakistan. The border guards stomp their feet and raise them high, besides shouting.

The government is hosting a Sufi festival at the Gobindgarh Fort on the evenings of March 15 and 17.

German Ambassador to India, Walter J. Lindner, in July last year had told IANS that he was spiritually rejuvenated after paying obeisance at Harmandir Sahib, popularly known as the Golden Temple.

Lindner, now an ex-German diplomat, said he was impressed with the world's largest kitchen in the Golden Temple where on an average free fresh vegetarian meals are being served to 50,000 to 75,000 people all day and night and the number increases on weekends and special occasions.

The British took over Amritsar in 1840 A.D. The years under British rule saw the demolition of the outer walls of the city and rebuilding of gates, the construction of Town Hall from where they administered the city.

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