Next week, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will travel to India. He will attend the launch of a special environmental programme along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar at the Statue of Unity in Gujarat’s Kevadia. The programme is part of the ‘Lifestyle For Environment’ (LiFE) initiative that was announced by Modi in June this year. It will be organised by the Niti Aayog.
Guterres, who will be in India from October 18-20, will also visit a field project to highlight climate change challenges and solutions for the world. The UN Secretary-General will deliver a public address to students at the Indian Institute of Technology-Bombay where his focus is also expected to be on global environmental crises.
The event at Kevadia will kick off a number of other governmental plans to mark Sardar Patel’s birthday on October 31 as National Unity Day. From October 25-31, the government will launch “Unitea” marches in all 750 districts of the country to highlight health and environment issues as well.
Prior to the LiFE event, Indian Ambassadors and High Commissioners are also expected to congregate in Kevadia for the annual Heads of Mission (HoM) conference. The HoM conference is expected to include several special programmes to celebrate India’s 75 years of Independence, the Azaadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav. Earlier, the EAM had invited more than 50 foreign diplomats based in Delhi to Vadodara to participate in Navratri festivities and dandiya dance in the city in early October and also facilitate a visit to Kevadia.
At least 120 HoMs would participate in the Kevadia conference on October 19-22.
The Statue of Unity has emerged as a favourite venue for the Central Government to hold conferences and seminars and bring foreign dignitaries. In October 2019, World Bank President David Malpass had visited the site.