Prime Minister Narendra Modi won hearts and tickled a distinguished gathering’s funny bones with his key note address at the World Economic Forum 2018 plenary session. He commenced his speech on a lighter note highlighting the difference that technology has wrought. He said, “When Deva Gowda came to attend WEF in 1997, the agenda was ‘Building Network Society’. However, given the technology we have today, it seems like a century-old topic.” He was at his wittiest best while highlighting the contrast between today and the 90’s. He said, back then, if one searched for Amazon on Internet, one would get scenes of lush forests in the results. He also added that tweeting was something associated with birds back then. He further added that chess players back then never feared losing to computers. “In 1997, no one heard of Osama Bin Laden and Harry Potter. But today, the times have changed. Twenty-one years hence, we are living in the age of big data, AI, and robots.” Outlining India’s growth, he said, India’s GDP in 1997 was close to 400 billion dollars but today, it has grown six times.
Moving on, he highlighted the three challenges which the world is facing currently – climate change, terrorism, and reverse globalisation. He said that we are witnessing frequent natural calamities, extreme winter and extreme summers. “The glaciers are melting and islands are sinking,” said Modi. He informed the gathering about the India’s push towards renewable energy and highlighted that International Solar Alliance, which is a result of India’s efforts, will help the world switch to environment friendly energy resources. Coming to terrorism, he said that any differentiation between good and bad terrorism is harmful. He expressed his concern over the fact that even educated youths are joining radical organisations. He also highlighted concerns relating to reverse globalisation. He said that world is witnessing the forces of protectionisn getting stronger. He recalled Mahatma Gandhi’s theory opening doors to different cultures. He said, “India welcomes positive aspects of all cultures. The Indian democracy aims to fulfill the dream of 1 billion people. My government’s motto is Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas.”
“We are removing red tape from red carpet. Now, we have opened doors to FDI through automatic route. We have done away with 1400 rules to ensure ease of doing business and ease of living. We are also optimising technology to tranform India,” said Narendra Modi. Concluding his speech, he said, “We in India are proud of our democracy and diversity. For a society with diverse religions, cultures, languages, attires and cuisines, democracy is not just a political system but a way of living.” Earlier, Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman, WEF, while inviting Prime Minister to address the session pointed out that under Modi’s leadership India’s influence has been expanding and appreciated its philosophy of ‘Vasudheva Kutumbhkam’ (the world is one family).
At a dinner meeting last night, PM Modi narrated India’s growth story and presented investment opportunities to over 40 global industry bosses from 18 countries, including Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, Reliance’s Mukesh Ambani, Airbus CEO Dirk Hoke. The PM invited everyone to speak and sought suggestions, responded to each query, addressing each CEO personally, said those who attended. PM Modi said he was “moving from ease of doing business to ease of living”, his new focus would be “less conflict with government.” He was accompanied by top government officials, including Vijay Gokhale, Jai Shankar and Ramesh Abhishek. Under the tagline of “India means business”, the roundtable was attended by 40 CEOs of global companies and 20 from India.
As PM Modi landed in Switzerland last evening for a packed 24-hour visit, the International Monetary Fund reaffirmed that India’s economy is projected to grow by 7.4 per cent in the next fiscal, making it the fastest growing economy again, ahead of China. PM Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister to give the plenary speech at the WEF and the first to attend the Davos summit in 20 years, since HD Deve Gowda’s visit in 1997.