The inauguration ceremony of India’s Civil 20 (C20) year 2023 working group was held last January 16 in Kerala at Amritapuri, the Ashram of Mata Amritanandamayi, known to many simply as Amma (Translator’s note: Mata Amritanandamayi Devi is an Indian Hindu spiritual leader, guru and humanitarian; an Ashram is a secluded dwelling of a Hindu sage; Amma means “Mother”.)

Perhaps an unusual venue for such events, except that the very government of India and the Honorable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi asked Amma to successfully facilitate all the work that Civil Society 20 will do in this year by serving as chair of the working group.

“This is an important year for India,” Amma announced in her opening remarks, “hosting the C20 is an auspicious occasion for India, a mission to restore the world’s fading light.” The theme chosen for this year’s C20 is “Vasudhaiva kutumbakam” or “the whole world is one family,” and indeed Amritapuri is a living example of this ancient Indian ideal: living within the Ashram are people from all parts of the world, speaking different languages, with different customs and religions, but united under one roof.

《The human body, along with everything sentient and non-sentient in this world, is composed of five elements: earth, water, fire, air and space. These five elements originate from nature, and that is why man and nature are one. Knowing this truth from direct experience, the ancient rishis [Hindu sages or saints] of India made this statement, “Vasudhaiva kuṭuṁbakam,” meaning, “The world is one family.” It is therefore appropriate to have chosen the Upaniṣad statement, “One Earth, One Family”, as the theme of India’s C20 presidency.》

The theme chosen by the Civil Society, led by Amma, is “You are the light”-the Light; any spiritual and inner quest cannot but pass through the physical, astral, symbolic powerful concept of light : “You are the Light”-aspect to build upon in such dark times.

《At the stage we are at, after almost the first quarter of this century, what is the state of our world? Close your eyes and put your finger on a map. Now open your eyes and read the name of the continent and nation on which it rested. Wherever the finger is, find out if there is no conflict and [if] peace reigns in such a place. Is it a place where there is access to clean water and food to satisfy everyone’s thirst and hunger? Do all have a roof over their heads and clothes to wear? Do people enjoy timely health care? Are women and children safe? We all know the answer without waiting for Amma to give it. The only difference is that while the rich cry surrounded by luxury, the poor cry on a broken chair and under a roof from which it rains.

Amma’s message at the event, which was attended by Indian and international politicians and guests from other fields, was remarkably close to the essence of everything Amma has always said: close to the human heart, embracing nature, uplifting the spirit in an absolutely practical and purposeful way [in order] to benefit everyone’s daily life. Lots of references and reflections on today’s world, with very short space-time passages in which we start from India [and go] to the world and vice versa, emphasizing how much commonality there is in the life experiences humans have today at every latitude, in an effort to discover that in this journey everyone is Light.

The chosen themes of “the whole world is one family” by the C20 and “you are light” by the Civil Society seem to be a powerful sign of hope that the political rhetoric, congresses and international agendas, to which we are often accustomed, will be transformed into something that is closer to the people, with the presidency of a humanitarian and spiritual leader who has always been as committed to the spiritual field as to the humanitarian and social field. Recall that the humanitarian organization Embracing the world (ETW) has helped and transformed the lives of millions of people: for more than 30 years the international network inspired by the work of Mata Amritanandamayi (Amma) has been working to ensure basic needs (food, shelter, education and health care) with very many projects around the world.

And what are the themes that this year’s working groups will focus on? “Hope, self-motivation and selfless service,” respectively. Sewa-that is, selfless service-is an integral part of the Vedic culture of India and is a foundation of the life of Amma Ashram and all devotees and spiritual seekers, who wherever they live in the world, choose to devote time, resources and actions for the benefit of others.

During the opening, the discussion groups on which this year’s C20 will focus were presented:

  • Integrated Holistic Health: mind, body and environment;
  • Sustainable and resilient communities: climate, environment and Net Zero goals;
  • Education and Digital Transformation;
  • Gender Equality and Disability;
  • Technology, security and transparency;
  • Lifestyle for the Environment;
  • Preservation and conservation of traditional arts, crafts and culture; Traditional and innovative methods of livelihood and employment;
  • Human rights as human values;
  • Revival of rivers and water management;
  • Sewa – sense of service, philanthropy and volunteerism;
  • Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – the world is one family;
  • Diversity, inclusion, mutual respect;
  • SDG 16+ (sustainable development goal 16+) and civic space promotion;
  • Democracy: retrospective and perspective.

At the following link you can read the insights on the working groups:

In the final part of her speech Amma presented a number of important proposals to implement, simple actions that can bring enormous benefits over time, aimed especially at children and youth. Some examples: making classes from kindergarten to high school entirely dedicated to compassion and altruism, inviting all children to plant a tree on their birthday and to continue to take care of it, promoting projects in villages, using technology with discernment, creating interfaith dialogues, setting up counseling services in all schools and universities with a focus on mental health of young people, and many more proposals. In addition, Amma added that before finishing their studies, young people should be taken to a poor village to live in for a few days, so [that] they will see firsthand the problems that ordinary people face every day, and [so that] this experience will serve them to develop initiatives that can help the village.

You can read the full speech translated into Italian on Amma Italy’s website at the following link:

At the end of the inaugural ceremony it was announced that Mata Amritanandamayi Math will allocate ₹ 50 crore ($6 million +) over the next twelve months as part of their C20 commitment which will be dedicated to the welfare of people with disabilities and malnourished pregnant women. The work will take place in underdeveloped districts throughout India, as well as in other developing nations.

You can review the entire event on youtube:


Compassion, the idea of one big family, love of nature, looking at the Light that each person has within and brings to the world are powerful messages beyond the results that this global forum of economic and financial cooperation will bring to the world, [and it is] important that they have been shared at such a high focus. May all the meetings that will take place (more than 200 in the coming months) help awaken minds and hearts to put them at the service of all humanity, as Amma invites us to do.