This year marked the 48th annual World Economic Forum (WEF) summit which took place from 23rd-26th January in the Swiss mountain region of Davos. The focus was heavily on India whereby Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the inaugural speech and was the first Indian Prime Minister to address the Summit in two decades
The world should be seen as one big family “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – we are all together and linked as one family” Prime Minister Narendra Modi
UK Prime Minister Theresa May gave a speech at the Summit on Thursday 25th January and other world leaders attending the Summit included US President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron, Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Lebanon Saad Al Hariri and King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan His Majesty King Abdullah II Ibn Al Hussein, to name a few.
The Indian delegation was the fourth largest group at Davos this year and included Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu. The Indian presence this year was the largest in the 48-year history of WEF, with nearly 130 Indian CEOs attending the annual event. This included Reliance Industries Chairman Mukesh Ambani, Bharti Enterprises Chairman Sunil Mittal and Tata Sons CEO N Chandrasekaran.
Upon arrival in Davos, the snow laden roads were filled with private blacked-out cars taking delegates to and from an exciting array of conference venues. India House, positioned next to Russia House, provided guests with food catered by the Taj Group and had exhibitions and displays showcasing the benefits of investing in India. Rooms were filled with the Indian press, government and business representatives of Indian origin.
The theme of the summit was “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World” and in his speech, Prime Minister Modi spoke eloquently on the topic drawing in resounding quotes from ancient Hindu scriptures, reminding delegates where the world had gone wrong and strayed. Prime Minister Modi reminded delegates how the world should be seen as one big family “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam – we are all together and linked as one family” and this would help eliminate fault lines.
Climate change was a focal point in the Prime Minister’s speech as it had contributed to fractures within nations, whereby a lack of understanding between interest groups and communities were caused by disparities in the allocation of resources and assets. The influences of extreme weather conditions could also be seen in Davos where the snowfall had been more than the last 20 years. Prime Minister Modi stated that in Indian culture, “we treat nature as mother” and that holy scriptures told mankind “the earth is our god and we are the children of the earth”. The importance of the Paris Agreement was also highlighted and Prime Minister Modi told the audience that India is “willing to take the lead in mitigating the effects of climate change”. Not only has India as a country never invaded other countries or fought wars to gain territories not belonging to her, “in fact, violence or damage is not thought even towards nature, including trees and animals.” From the Prime Minister’s speech, it was evident that to respect and love one another and nature, is inbuilt and inherit in the Indian ethos. Perhaps if this philosophy was obeyed and followed throughout the world, maybe we wouldn’t be living in a fractured world.
Tackling terrorism was also highlighted where the Prime Minister urged the world to tackle terrorism collectively and that again, it was intrinsic in Indian belief to oppose terrorism due to the belief in co-existence of races and religions (as can be witnessed in India today), together with belief in non-violence. Prime Minister Modi also pointed out that “worse is when people say there is a difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ terror.” The world being stronger together was reiterated throughout Prime Minister Modi’s speech and he explained that the biggest reasons for fracture at an international level were isolationist policies.
Technology also played a big focus in Prime Minister Modi’s speech and throughout the WEF Summit. In Davos, there were an array of forums focussed on cryptocurrencies and block-chain technology. Prime Minister Modi stated how technology driven transformation influences everything including international groups and politics.
This year’s WEF Summit proved to be the most exciting yet, attracting a huge amount of attendance from global leaders and powerful CEOs. There was a strong focus on India exhibiting to the world the great schemes and initiatives being made by the Indian Government. India’s attractiveness as a nation with its philosophical tenants built upon love for nature and mankind was beautifully displayed to the world, coupled with India’s great economic advancements. India ranked 3rd in the WEF’s list of most trusted governments in 2017 and according to the World Bank and IMF, its growth rate is going to be steady and high. Global rating agency Moody’s has also upgraded India’s rating on account of its economic reforms. Considering this and Prime Minister Modi’s landmark speech in Davos, it is evident that the largest democracy on earth is on course to become one of the world’s superpowers.