Curious Case of 'Light' Glitch That Delayed Closing Ceremony of India-Africa Summit

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Curious Case of 'Light' Glitch That Delayed Closing Ceremony of India-Africa Summit

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with other African dignatries at the India-Africa Forum Summit in New Delhi.

New Delhi:  When the clock struck seven on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi looked visibly uncomfortable.

By that time on the last day of the third India-Africa summit, all heads of state from 54 African countries and the Prime Minister were supposed to be at the Rashtrapati Bhavan for the final banquet.

But it wasn't till about 9 pm that evening that President Pranab Mukherjee finally greeted his guests. The closing ceremony, that began at 5 pm and was supposed to end in an hour, went on for nearly three more hours beyond its stipulated time.

Among the reasons for such an inordinate delay was apparently a curious one.

Sources tell NDTV that many leaders were not properly briefed about the lights overhead that indicated when the allocated time for their address was over.

Naturally, many spoke way beyond their time.

For foreign photojournalists as well the event was far from comfortable. Placed at least 20 metres behind the semi-circle structure in which the Heads of States were seated, most photographers completely missed the perfect shot.

"I could not see the small flags on the desk from this far. I could not see where my Prime Minister Rosario was seated when he spoke," Alfred Mukudu, a journalist from Mozambique, said.

Mr Mukudu said he was only able to take pictures of the large display screen that projected the video of his Prime Minister while he spoke.

But for journalists and others attending the event, the day was not over yet. Soon as the dignitaries left the Indira Gandhi Stadium, the gates were locked, locking in much of the local and international media.

However, officials of Ministry of External Affairs kept their cool and worked very efficiently to make alternate arrangements, the journalists said, ending the episode before it could cast a shadow on the otherwise successful multilateral event.

Attended by about 1,000 delegates, the four-day summit, that began on Monday, was said be the biggest ever overseas gathering of African leaders and represents the highest number of foreign dignitaries to descend on India since 1983.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a strong pitch for India and Africa to "speak in one voice" in global affairs including for the reform of United Nations.

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