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Mumbai school students hold court at mini-G20 summit

Updated on: 27 November,2023 07:53 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Dipti Singh |

City teens’ problem-solving abilities and interpersonal skills shine as they tackle global issues at SoBo school’s model conclave

Mumbai school students hold court at mini-G20 summit

Students participate in the two-day JB Model G20 summit at the Taj President, Cuffe Parade. Pics/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

It is intriguing to witness school-going teens engage in debates and discussions about the global economic landscape, policies and more with remarkable ease and confidence. This was the scenario that unfolded during the two-day inter-school model G20 organised by J B Petit High School for Girls, held on Saturday and Sunday at Taj President, Cuffe Parade. 

On the day of the JB Model G20 summit organised in collaboration with the Gateway House Indian Council on Global Relations, Mumbai, 150 student delegates from various schools symbolically represented G20 member nations and guest countries. 

Sanjana Singh, Std X student and secy gen, JB model G20Sanjana Singh, Std X student and secy gen, JB model G20

On the lines of the G20 summit, the student delegates representing the nations delved into discussions on global issues, including terrorism financing, cybercrime, energy transition, trade, investments, etc.

Tinaz Bana, the model G20 summits faculty coordinator and teacher of commercial studies at J B Petit High School for Girls, Fort, said: “The problem-solving abilities and interpersonal skills of students were sharpened through exposure to globally significant issues. This exposure is crucial for preparing this generation to tackle the most critical challenges of tomorrow, in my opinion. Following the deliberations, the delegates will collaborate to draft resolutions that garner consensus from all participants. This process mirrors the discussions and consultations conducted in the Finance Track and Sherpa Track, leading up to the final Leaders’ Summit. The ultimate goal will be to produce a consensual statement or outcome document,” said Bana.

Students participate in the two-day JB Model G20 summit at the Taj President, Cuffe Parade. PICs/Sayyed Sameer AbediStudents participate in the two-day JB Model G20 summit at the Taj President, Cuffe Parade. PICs/Sayyed Sameer Abedi

According to Bana, a group of students, from Class 8, 9 and 10, have dedicated over a year to work under her guidance to finalize the program structure. “The summit is the outcome of meticulous planning and almost a year of preparation. When we were invited to host a Model G20 summit in collaboration with The Gateway House, our principal encouraged us to give it a try. As a preliminary step, we conducted an in-house G20 summit as a pilot project in April to assess our readiness and identify areas for improvement. Subsequently, we organized sessions conducted by experts on various topics for our students. The secretariat, consisting of seven students, has been steering this event and all these efforts have significantly contributed to their research.”

Talking to mid-day, Benaifer Kutar, principal of the school said, “By organizing this inter-school JB Model G20 we aim to cultivate in our students a deep comprehension of global affairs and our country’s position within it. It was just an idea in my mind initially, but later we recognized the students’ keen interest and evolving understanding of the subject. It became even more evident during the pilot in-house Model G20 in April. The JB Model G20 Leaders’ Summit Declaration further underscored the significance of fostering this awareness.”

Principal of JB Petit High School for Girls Benaifer Kutar (centre) with participants of the Model G20 conducted at the Taj PresidentPrincipal of JB Petit High School for Girls Benaifer Kutar (centre) with participants of the Model G20 conducted at the Taj President

Kutar said, “Thoughtful discussions and debate laid the groundwork for meaningful action. In today’s complex interconnected world, I believe that educational institutes should explore diverse perspectives and provide a platform for youth to engage in meaningful dialogue or aim. Here is to create a dynamic experiential learning where every student can develop a holistic worldview and engage in robust discussions, on the contemporary issues of our times. It is a matter of pride that our event has garnered recognition and support from the government of Maharashtra, obtaining official permission to use India’s G20 logo, which adds to our sense of accomplishment.

Thoroughly mentored

Multiple training and mentoring sessions were held by eminent speakers and industry stalwarts for students - organized by the school in preparation for JB Model G20. The experts who conducted the sessions include- Penny Burt, Adjunct Fellow - Gateway House and Australian representative of Women 20, Amity Bandar - Senior Fellow for Energy (Investment and Connectivity), Sanjay Anandaram,-Executive Board Member- MOSIP and Ambassador - iSPIRT, Ganeshan Wignaraja- Professorial Fellow for Trade and Economics -- Gateway House, Major Ranjeet Goswami, Global Head - Corporate Affairs at Tata Consultancy Services and Purvi Patel, International Affairs Fellow - Council on Foreign Relations.

Learning to lead

Participating in a Model G20 summit as a diplomat, representative of a country is a challenging but rewarding experience, said student delegates.

Sanjana Singh, Class 10 student of J B Petit High School for Girls and secretary general of the secretariat - JB model G20 said: “Essentially every year we have our annual UN conference JBMUN, that’s incredibly helpful in building confidence and instilling speaking skills among students. But this model G20 event is a real world experience where students are donning the roles of diplomats. Students have to simulate the proceedings of a G20 summit, where we discussed and debated global economic issues and worked together to come up with solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. What the delegates say in these sessions will either hinder the consensus or help with it at the end of the day. There is a minimum 10 minutes of research behind every statement they are or will be speaking here. That’s what makes it harder to be part of a conference like this.”

Singh said: “After every session we have to pay attention to what each delegate has said and find points of convergence and divergence and that is something unique to this conference. Getting delegates to consensus is so difficult given that different countries have diverse foreign policies that make it tough to get them on the same page. This conference has taught me that listening is more important than speaking most of the time. In Mumbai especially I have seen, we are very academically driven, which is wonderful but as a secretariat at this event, juggling with the event and our academics I have learnt experiences like these come once in a lifetime and teach us so much.”

Another student from J B Petit High School for Girls and a delegate representing India said: “Preparing for the summit was a challenging task. I spent hours researching and analyzing various economic issues, studying the positions of different countries and formulating strategies to achieve India’s goals. I delved into complex terror financing which was the topic of the first session. Given that G20 is more about collaboration and cooperation between countries, I had to work out and find a way to work with countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan, even though the delegations from these countries aren’t in the committee. I did extensive research about Pakistan and Afghanistan and found a lot of ways to implement solutions.”

“As the delegate representing China, I was tasked with representing the interests of my country and advocating for its priorities. This meant that I had to be well-versed in the economic policies and positions of China, as well as have a strong understanding of the global economic landscape. Researching these topics proved challenging, particularly when relying on Internet sources. For instance, when initiating my research, a simple query such as “China’s approach to terrorism” yielded multilateral perspectives, placing me in a challenging situation and necessitating diligent efforts. Most of the details regarding the country’s foreign policy were in Chinese, requiring me to translate and decipher them,” said Navya Singh Rajwant from SIS (Singapore International School) sharing her experience.

Rajwant said: “This conference tested me a lot and has taught me to be a little more diplomatic, a little more controlled, when I speak. Be less defensive, more sensitive. In general, I have learnt to articulate myself better.”

The JB Model G20 Summit had a Leaders’ Summit on Day 2, Sunday, November 26, featuring a formal signing procedure during the voting for or against a consensus communique. The summit concluded with the presentation of awards to delegates for exemplary performance during the Leaders’ Summit.

No. of student participants

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