Sri Mata Amritanandamayi Devi (Amma) has initiated a ₹50 crore project by the Mata Amritanandamayi Math. The activities will support the welfare of people with disabilities and pregnant women who are malnourished. Work will take place in underdeveloped districts across India, as well as in other developing nations. The Ashram will work closely with local Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) with the purpose of bringing about a tangible change in the lives of its beneficiaries. Amma also hopes to establish this as an udahran for efficient and effective systems, which could subsequently be adopted by other CSOs and governments all over the world.
The announcement was made as part of the Inaugural Ceremony of India’s Civil 20 Working Group (C20), of which Amma serves as Chair. C20’s purpose is to bring the concerns of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) from around the world to the G20 Summit set to take place in New Delhi this September. The Group of 20 (G20) is the premier intergovernmental forum for the world’s developed and emerging economies to address financial stability on a global basis. With India as this year’s host country, the G20 theme is vasudhaiva kuṭaṁbakam—the whole world is one family.
Amma said: “This is an auspicious occasion. We have embarked on a mission to restore the dwindling light of the world. This is a historic year in which India has received the opportunity to assume the presidency of the G20 nations. The Indian Government and Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi have given us the tremendous responsibility of successfully facilitating the process of Civil Society 20. May we be able to do justice to this endeavour.”
A CSO is any non-profit, voluntary citizens’ group that is organised on a local, national or international level. Task-oriented and driven by people with a common interest, CSOs perform a variety of services and humanitarian functions, bring citizens’ concerns to governments, monitor policies and encourage political participation at the community level.
Thus, the main duties of C20 are resolving issues people face in social and economic arenas. In advance of the Summit, C20 will collaborate with hundreds of CSOs from around the world to voice primary and common concerns and to promote sustainable development with the vision of leaving no one behind. Amma expressed that practical research should be conducted, while at the same time integrating spiritual knowledge and emphasised that humankind must stop its destruction of Nature.
Amma said: “We should understand the necessity of this from the hints Nature and the universe keep sending us. Only then will we be able to fulfil the principle of vasudhaiva kuṭaṁbakam, at least to some small extent. Humankind has the wrong understanding that Nature is our obedient servant and insentient, and hence we can treat Her however we please. However, the truth is that Nature is a unified body—a single entity. If we truly want sustainable development, holding conferences and summits, awarding prizes and creating policies and laws are not enough. Humanity’s attitude must change. If we can change our attitude, we can change our surroundings.”
Speaking at the inauguration, Tamil Nadu Governor RN Ravi said that community participation is essential for the success of any project, and C20 is playing a key role in ensuring society’s fundamental needs are expressed to the G20 leaders. He explained that today the world is going through increasingly challenging crises and collective actions are now necessary just to survive.
He said: “The world is busy with satisfying sensory pleasures, and at the same time, the world order is based on the fear of military power instead of the love of humanity. This has to change. There has to be a fundamental connection at the core: the way we look at ourselves, the way we look at others, the way we look at nature, Mother Earth, today. With India as host of the G20, the world is looking on us with expectation—a light to show the way forward. We are all here on this Earth. We are all children of Mother Earth. This Earth is not a resource to exploit. It is for peaceful coexistence.”
He added: “Under the able leadership of Amma, I’m sure C20 will come up with practical recommendations because for Amma, her feet are always on the ground. And the G20 will benefit enormously from these recommendations to make this a happy, peaceful and harmonious world.”
Members of India’s C20 include Sri M, the Satsang Foundation as Participant; Sudha Murthy, Chair, Infosys Foundation as Participant; Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini as Secretariat; and the Vivekananda Kendra, Kanyakumari as Institutional Partner.
Many other dignitaries graced the inauguration. Union Minister Anurag Thakur said that it is hoped that the ideas emerging from the C20 working groups will solve the environmental challenges the world is facing today. Union Minister of State for External Affairs V. Muraleedharan added that Prime Minister Modi envisions a G20 inclusive of all members of society, irrespective of whether they are women, men, young or old, and this can be achieved through C20.
In addition, Kerala’s State Public Education Minister, V. Sivankutty, said that G20 is a platform where the world will join hands to face today’s challenges and that CSOs are the most effective mechanism to reach all levels of society. Amitabh Kant, former CEO of NITI Aayog and India’s Special Representative (Sherpa) at G20, said that since women constitute the majority of India’s population, a development policy based on gender equality is a priority.
There were several others from around the world who addressed the inaugural ceremony. They included Shashi Tharoor MP, India and Former UN Under-Secretary General; Vinay P Sahasrabuddhe, MP and President of Indian Council for Cultural Relations; Vijay K Nambiar, Sherpa C20 and former Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General; Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce and Philanthropist; T Denny Sanford, Entrepreneur, Philanthropist and recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham; AH Maftuchan, C20 Troika Member from Indonesia; Alessandra Nilo, C20 Troika member from Brazil; and Laurent Bessede, General Legal Director of the Red Cross, France.