Prime Minister Narendra Modi is ubiquitous in Delhi. He appears in different sizes at these locations: from the international airport to iron pailings; public toilets to petrol pumps; bus stops to banyan trees; and the façade of a metro station to flyovers and fences.
As India’s G20 presidency moves towards the business end of a probable joint declaration this weekend in a spruced-up-but-restricted Delhi, the Centre has left no space unoccupied for promotional material outdoors.
On a 12-km stretch between Indira Gandhi International Airport, and the luxurious ITC Maurya and Taj Palace hotels, Newslaundry counted at least 963 G20 promotional installations on either side of the road. These installations include billboards, flexi boards, banners, digital panels, art works and liveries. Of them, 236 had Modi’s beaming face printed on them.
For every kilometer, there are 80 promotional elements of all kinds, and almost 20 Modi installations are displayed. And for every 100 meters, the numbers respectively stand at eight and two.
Modi posters dominate the busiest and most visible stretches on the route. No other leader, foreign or Indian, has found space on these posters. Though “President of Bharat” Draupadi Murmu, as the ceremonial head of the country, has invited all G20 leaders for the summit, she is missing from the branding blitz. “Resources and representation for all”, “not only respecting diversity but also celebrating it”, announce some of the Modi posters.
ITC Maurya will host US President Joe Biden and other delegates from his country. The neighbouring Taj Palace will also welcome many foreign dignitaries, including the . The road towards these hotels snakes via Dhaula Kuan.
Newslaundry looked at the 12-km stretch between the airport and the ITC Maurya and Taj Palace, the 4-km stretch between Delhi Cantonment and Dhaula Kuan, and a 2-km stretch on Sardar Patel Marg – ITC Maurya and Taj Palace hotels are on Sardar Patel Marg.
International airport to ITC Maurya
The prime minister makes his presence felt at the most prominent public spaces on the 12-km stretch. In size, his billboards and posters reign over other G20 ad material.
But the Modi banners and billboards are mostly concentrated in the 4-km stretch between Delhi Cantonment and Dhaula Kuan, and a 2-km stretch on Sardar Patel Marg — both part of the 12-km route.
The 4-km stretch between Delhi Cantonment and Dhaula Kuan was decorated with 122 Modi banners, or three for every 100 meters. The 2-km stretch at ITC Maurya has 86 Modi banners or over four for every 100 metres.
The gleaming façade of the Dhaula Kuan metro station takes the cake in terms of enormity. A pastel jacket and half a smile, Modi looks on at the traffic with these words: “Driving solutions for a pro-planet approach.”
Near the exit of the international airport, two giant Modi billboards, as tall as the four-storey multi-level parking lot, “welcome G20 delegates”. In one of them, the prime minister, in his low neck, checkered jacket resolutely gazes at fliers. In another, he wears a cream jacket. Both billboards have 29 flags of other nations and a regional group with India’s G20 presidency motto: Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the world is one family).
The Dhaula Kuan metro station
Outside ITC Maurya
The slogans on posters touch upon topics such as optimism, inclusive growth, leadership, technological transformation, digital economy, women, environment, diversity etc. One of them declares that India’s G20 presidency offers “healing, harmony and hope”. Another reads: “Giving voice to global south”. Several others proclaim India as the one that promotes “universal sense of oneness”, provides “resources and representation for all”; and not only respects diversity but also celebrates it. “One sun, one world, one grid for a better future.” “Solving the greatest challenges faced by humanity together,” read another.
Near Delhi Cantonment
At a public toilet near ITC Maurya
To the Moon and back
Other advertisement installations depict unknown but hospitable faces welcoming delegates to G20.
Digital glass panels near the airport celebrate diversity of cultures and heritage buildings of all states. Reams of livery ads skirt the airport roads. At roundabouts, artworks with folded hands and the G20 lotus logo rise from the ground. Metro pillars have been draped by G20 ad material. Some digital panels marvel at the successful Chandrayaan-3 mission to the Moon.
Heads of state and delegates from over 40 countries will attend the summit at Pragati Maidan in Delhi on September 9 and 10. Since December, India has held around 200 pertaining to the summit in over 50 cities.
India formally took over the G20 presidency on December 1, 2022 from Indonesia. The prime minister had called it an “opportunity to showcase India’s capability to the world”.
Buoyed by India’s presidency, PM Modi is trying to position himself as a global leader at the most marquee gatherings in the geopolitical calendar. With the assembly elections – followed by the Lok Sabha polls – around the corner, the prime minister may burnish his leadership credentials in domestic politics too.