Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accompanied by several ministers and business leaders, will encapsulate making of ‘a new, young and innovative India’ when he addresses the rich and powerful from across the world at the snow-laden Swiss resort town of Davos later this month. In his first appearance at the WEF Annual Meeting –being held this year with a theme of ‘Creating a shared future in a fractured world’ — Modi is also expected to talk about his experience with ‘cooperative federalism’ in India, while urging the world for a collective crackdown on terrorism, economic imbalances, cyber threats and various societal ills. Sources familiar with the draft programme of various sessions of the 48th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) said the Indian leaders, including Modi, will also talk about numerous steps they have taken to make it easier to do business in India, check corruption, clamp down on black money, streamline taxation and boost sustainable growth. Adding further star power, Bollywood king Shahrukh Khan, for a change, would not be seen serenading heroines with his signature ‘open-arm’ charm on Swiss Alps, but will rather talk about creating a change in India through women empowerment. Another star speaker will be ex-RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan, who has been praised as well as criticised often for his vocal views on everything from politics to economics and is credited for predicting the global economic crisis of 2008. He will speak on the power of economic narratives and how policymakers can address the challenges of the 21st century. The final programme of the five-day event, starting January 22, will be unveiled on Tuesday by Geneva-based WEF, which describes itself as an international public-private organisation working to improve state of the world and has been hosting the confab every year in Davos.
Modi is being seen as one of the biggest stars this year, with US President Donald Trump being the other. Those scheduled to attend the powwow also include UK’s Theresa May, Canada’s Justin Trudeau, France’s Emmanuel Macron, Pakistan’s Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, Jordan’s King Abdullah and Queen Rania, Brazil’s Michel Temer and Switzerland’s Alain Berset. This will be Modi’s first Davos visit and also the first by an Indian Prime Minister since the one by H D Deve Gowda in 1997. In case of Trump, he will be the first US President to attend since Bill Clinton in 2000. As many as six union ministers, two chief ministers, over 100 CEOs and several other high-profile attendees from India will be hobnobbing with their counterparts from across the world, while over 3,000 global elite at their annual jamboree would be served Indian cuisine including desi ‘chai-samosa’ and several Gujarati dishes, among those from various other states, at the opening night welcome reception. As per the draft programme, Modi will deliver the opening plenary on January 23. A day before, he will have a bilateral meeting with Swiss President Berset. Modi is expected to have other bilaterals as well and will also meet global CEOs. Among other Indian leaders, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will have several engagements and will also speak at a session on ‘India’s role in the world’, talking about how the political changes, structural reforms and technology innovations are changing the country’s socio-economic context. Union Minister Jitendra Singh will speak at a session on ‘From fragile cities to renewal’, while Piyush Goyal will talk on ‘post-establishment politics’ and how a new generation of political leaders has swept into governments and parliaments around the world. Goyal will also speak on disaster resilience in infrastructure and on ‘designing for smart mobility’.
Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu is expected to meet his counterparts from other countries and discuss the WTO-related issues, among other engagements, while Dharmendra Pradhan will talk about value-chain innovations that can help the industries and governments unlock economic and societal value. M J Akbar, Minister of State for External Affairs, will speak on nuclear threats to international security, as also on securing peace and stability in the Asian century. Among other Indian participants, Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion Secretary Ramesh Abhishek will talk about the Asian innovation ecosystem, while NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant will talk about the use of big data in policy making and on implementing strategies for inclusive growth. Chief Ministers Devendra Fadnavis (Maharasthra) and N Chandrababu Naidu (Andhra Pradesh), as also Telangana minister K T Rama Rao will talk about investment attractiveness of their respective states, while the Indian CEOs, led by industry body CII, would be also pitching the India growth story in addition to exploring potential business deals. This will be the first time that India will host the welcome reception, where yoga will also be showcased along with cuisine from across the country.
The prominent Indian businessmen would include Gautam Adani, Mukesh Ambani with wife Nita, Rahul Bajaj with son Sanjiv, N Chandrasekaran with a host of Tata group executives, Chanda Kochhar, Uday Kotak, Naresh Goyal, Anand Mahindra, Sajjan Jindal, Salil Parekh, Sunil Mittal with son Kavin, Salil Parekh, Azim Premji, Ravi Ruia and Prashant Ruia. Besides, several Indian-origin global leaders will be present, including Lakshmi Mittal and son Aditya, Indra Nooyi and Sundar Pichai, who will talk about the age of artificial intelligence, future of the open web and the technology’s impact on society. PepsiCo’s Nooyi will pitch for urgent steps needed to be taken towards better capitalism.