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International Conference
Delivering Democracy: Retrospect and Prospect

The International Conference on 'Delivering Democracy - Retrospect and Prospect' was organized by the C20 India Working Group 'Delivering Democracy' on 12th and 13th April, 2023, at the Art of Living Centre in Bengaluru and was supported by Hanns Seidel Foundation India. The conference served as a forum to discuss issues related to democracy and the catalytic role of civil society organisations in advancing democracy in G20 countries. The conference covered a range of themes, including Youth and Democracy, Citizen Engagement, People Participation and Grassroots Governance, Strengthening and Deepening Democracy for Development, Responsive Governance, and more.

As part of India's G20 Presidency, India's G20 Secretariat has established several engagement groups to foster discussions, deliberations and formulate future visions for various sectors - Business 20, Civil 20, Labour 20, Parliament 20, Science 20, Supreme Audit Institutions 20, Think 20, Urban 20, Women 20 and Youth 20. ''Delivering Democracy'' is one of the working groups under the Civil 20 (C20) umbrella and is led by the Grassroots Research and Advocacy Movement (GRAAM).  This working group is hosting a variety of knowledge assimilation events both in-person and virtually, with the aim of empowering communities and promoting participatory governance at all levels, and contribute towards the policy-making process by providing a platform for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) around the world to voice people’s aspirations to world leaders in G20 Nations.

The conference had a diverse range of attendees from various sectors, with the participation of state governors, union ministers, speakers of legislative assembly, members of judiciary and other leading practitioners in civil society and governance, and international speakers who provided a global perspective on the pressing issues pertaining to democracy. It was an excellent opportunity for networking, learning, and sharing best practices among attendees.



The conference began with a mesmerizing Bharath Natyam performance by Dr Padmaja Suresh and team. This was followed by the inauguration panel, where distinguished speakers discussed the roots and potential of democracy in India. The panel featured renowned spiritual leader and humanitarian, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Guruji, who shared his valuable insights on the importance of unity and citizen engagement in strengthening democracy. He also highlighted ''civil society'' as the fifth pillar of democracy. The opening remarks were delivered by Smt Ritu Khanduri Bhushan, Speaker of Uttarakhand Legislative Assembly. Dr. R Balasubramaniam (Member HR – Capacity Building Commission, Govt of India & Founder – GRAAM) underlined the need for democracy to be accessible to all. Ms. Usha Subramanian, Deputy Resident Representative from Hanns Seidel Foundation emphasized the key role of capacity building for sustainable growth.

The conference also featured a panel on Youth and Democracy, which explored the active role of youth in promoting inclusive democracy and the innovative ways to overcome challenges that hinder youth participation in democracy. The panelists included Dr. Eshan Arya, Ms. Rashmi Samant, Ms. Nikita Rakhyani, and Mr. Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar. The session on People Participation and Grassroots Democracy brought together distinguished experts such as Shri Harsh Chouhan, Mr. Vinit Goenka, and Mr. K S Satish, where they shared their insights on the importance of grassroots democracy and community participation in driving positive change at the local level. The discussion focused on the need for greater citizen engagement in the democratic processes, particularly through grassroots democracy, and the role it can play in promoting social justice, equity, and sustainable development. The panelists emphasized that active citizen participation is crucial for the success of any democratic system, and highlighted the importance of creating platforms that enable citizens to engage with policymakers and elected representatives.


On the second day of the conference, an esteemed panel of speakers, including Sri Jagadananda J, Mr. Kartik Varma, Mr. Amrat Singh, Ms. Lisa Murawsky, and Mr. Praveen Kumar S, led a stimulating discussion on innovative ways to strengthen and deepen democracy. The panelists explored the opportunities and challenges facing democracies worldwide and offered valuable insights into the key factors impacting the success of democratic institution. The discussion highlighted the importance of harnessing technology to empower citizens and increase transparency, as well as ensuring more inclusive governance practices that incorporate diverse perspectives and voices, thus contributing to a stronger and more resilient democracy. The session proved to be thought-provoking, and attendees left with a greater understanding of the critical role that civil society, government, and technology can play in strengthening and deepening democratic values.


The panel discussion on responsible citizenry and responsive governance was led by a group of esteemed experts, including Dr. Sandeep Shastri, Shri Sujit Kumar, Mr. V N Rajesh Kamireddy, Ms. Chhavi Rajawat, and Mr. Pushkar Dharaap. With their diverse backgrounds and experiences, the panelists offered valuable insights into the crucial interplay between civic engagement and responsive governance. They discussed innovative strategies aimed at fostering more accountable, transparent, and inclusive democratic systems. The discussion was both insightful and informative, providing attendees with a better understanding of the importance of responsible citizenry and responsive governance in promoting a healthy democracy.

During the International Conference, members of the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) participated in ten roundtable discussions on 3D (Delegate-Democracy-Discussion) & Developing Democracy) exploring ways to strengthen the future of democracy. The discussions covered a range of pressing issues, including youth and democracy, leveraging technology for delivering democracy, and many more. Participants engaged in lively and thought-provoking conversations, identifying challenges and opportunities for each topic and suggesting potential solutions and strategies to move forward. The recommendations that emerged from these discussions, as well as the overall conference, will be submitted to the G20 summit via the Civil 20 secretariat, ensuring that they are considered in international policy discussions.

The conference also featured Campus20 posters on how youth can participate in democracy and be the voice for development, inaugurated by Mr. Yaduveer, Prince of Mysore. Youth from Campus20 Universities highlighted the importance of active citizen participation in promoting social justice, equity, and sustainable development. The posters also depicted how the electoral process could be more inclusive and participatory for the marginalised groups.

The conference was concluded with the valedictory panel led by distinguished speakers, Dr. Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, Shri Harsh Chouhan, Ms. Usha Subramanian, Shri Darshak Hathi, Mr. Kiran DM, and Dr. Basavaraju R Shreshta, who shared their valuable perspectives on the way forward for shaping democracy in G20 Nations.