India represents a “refreshing change” in a world that is without clear global custodian and needs to forcefully pitch its narrative of openness to counter barriers being talked about by large powerful nations, Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Mittal said today. “What worries me is that due to lack of global leadership, we are seeing large powerful countries now starting to talk about barriers… This is the time when India needs to even more forcefully talk about its narrative of openness and open societies,” Mittal said while addressing a session at the India Economic Summit of the World Economic Forum (WEF).
The worrisome barriers include restriction on movement of people and anti-dumping or safeguard duties being used by certain countries to block products from other places, he said. Mittal, who heads India’s largest telecom company, talked about the utter “confusion and vacuum” in global arena on issues like climate change, mass migration and international trade. “We are in an era where there is no global leader which has emerged as custodian of global order,” he said, adding that India, on the other hand, represented a “refreshing change”.
“If you look at climate change, mass migration and global trade, there is complete confusion and vacuum. If you keep that as global backdrop and see what’s happening in India, there is a refreshing change here. As the world has lost its narrative in global leadership, there is an Indian leader in form of Narendra Modi, who has emerged as strong and powerful leader driving Indian and global agenda,” Mittal said.
India’s new narrative is fuelled by ‘internationalisation’, ‘innovation’ and ‘inclusiveness’, Mittal pointed out, highlighting India’s lead on climate issue as well as its open investment policies. Mittal, however, said disparity between the rich and the poor had widened over the last 7-8 years and that distribution of wealth had not reached all levels of society.
Citing a recent report that 200 top companies had seen reduction in employment in the last few years, he said: “If these top companies are not going to create jobs, it will get harder for the business community to pull society along with it.” Companies need to, therefore, deliberate and discuss ways to include social angle to businesses goals, he emphasised.