David Cruickshank, Global Chairman, Deloitte, United Kingdom; Michel Sapin,Minister of Economy and Finance of France; Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Paytm, India; Guy Standing, Research Professor in Development Studies, University of London, United Kingdom; Cobus de Swardt, Managing Director, Transparency International, Germany; Pedro Rodrigues de Almeida, Head of Basic Industries, Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum and Rana Foroohar, Global Business Columnist and Associate Editor, Financial Times, USA speaking during the Session "Ending Corruption: The The Recovery of Trust" at the Annual Meeting 2017 of the World Economic Forum in Davos
From stimulating conversations to global ideas – the who’s who of the business and political world came together for the World Economic Forum. Davos has always played host to global platform for ideas, innovation and policy. However, this time it was not enough to on top of the world Elite order, it was the backlash of populism in the liberal West which made everyone revise their notes and state with caution as 2016 proved again and again, that you can’t take the popular vote for granted. The sting of alt-Right was felt and there were empty rhetoric from the likes of Theresa May, though in all honesty no one knew what they were up against writes Manish Tiwari
This year, the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos has anchored its programme of events around the theme of responsive and responsible leadership. It could not come at a more critical time for the world’s elite. Last year saw huge upheaval around the world and the beginning of a complete restructuring of the world order.
China’s President Xi Jinping opened the address at WEF delivering a detailed defence of economic globalisation. In an oratorical sweep that took in everything from the Paris climate agreement to the cause of the 2008 financial crisis, the President proposed that global governance models – while unarguably broken in many respects – should not be discarded. “There’s no point blaming economic globalisation for the world’s problems, as that is simply not the case,” he said.
On global trade he emphasised on promoting trade and investment, liberalisation and facilitation through opening up – and saying no to protectionism. An oxymoron if you pay any attention to trade policy of China over the last decade.
In this context – of opening up opportunities to the world – Davos 2017 even saw India taking a leap forward with Indian industrialists, entrepreneurs and politicos making their presence felt. India, one of the fastest growing major economies, was represented here by a delegation of over 100 individuals, including ministers, government officials and business leaders.
While Indian Minister Nitin Gadkari made a strong case to woo foreign investors, his ministerial colleague Nirmala Sitharaman said the country has great opportunities in the services sector which contributes over 50 per cent to the GDP. Against the backdrop of rising uncertainties in the global economy and fears of more job losses, Gadkari said India is working on ways to improve purchasing power of the common man as that would present further opportunities. Amitabh Kant, a key official in India’s Niti Ayog made an announcement about giving 20 million Indian citizens free money, an idea endorsed by Guy Standing from London University who is a long standing supporter of Universal Basic Income.
Hosted by CII and partnered by the Andhra Pradesh government, the Indian pavilion saw politicians and government officials showcasing what India got to offer.Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Chandrababu Naidu talked about how he has a huge facilities in Amravati, wherein he is looking for people with world class ideas to partner with the state.
Another highlight was the Indian vegetarian lunch on the snow-capped Alps hosted by the Hinduja’s who used the platform to bring together an eclectic mix of people from media stalwarts Rajat Kapoor with Ritu Dhawan (India TV) to industrialists Navin Jindal (Jindal Steel and Power Limited), Rajan Bharati Mittal (Bharati Enterprises), Siddharth Jain (INOX), Rajesh Agrawal (Deputy Mayor of London), Salman Mahdi (Deutsche Bank), Dr Iqbal Surve (Independent Media South Africa) and Grandhi Kiran Kumar (GMR Group) to political figures such as Swami Agnivesh and the President of Mauritius Ameenah Gurib.
As the keynote speaker, Hinduja stressed on how we are living in an age where there is a lot of political uncertainty but if we move beyond that and look at it as the year of change there is an amass of opportunities. President of the Hinduja Group Rakeshh Gupta added: “There is an opportunity in the turmoil and the upheaval will manifest into opportunities.”
May’s Global Britain
UK Prime Minister Theresa May addressed the World Economic Forum, with a speech full of a confident future ahead despite Brexit – saying now Britain is open to the world. While, her speech did manage uplifting the Pound, the change in political tempo and the grammar which has become the hallmark of the more populist politicians globally was evident in her speech. There is a lot of caution and the words were chosen carefully but it still lacks the conviction as to why Brexit.
We are moving into an age of rhetoric where big promises are being made and more than ever we are in the danger of sounding jingoistic because we are still not focusing on the basics of human lexicon – humanity and compassion is yet to seep through political messages of this era and it is important else we drift into meaningless nationalism which would arouse sentiments on both the sides of rhetoric but fail to provide leadership. We have to provide voice to the sufferings of minorities and refugees who are in a vulnerable state because of what manifested in the cold war era.
Regarding UK prime minister we need to talk about action points which are not mere rhetoric. At this stage the world is fully capable of providing food and basic healthcare; the shift in leadership needs to focus on that. The other issue about religious terrorism which seems to be motivating popular shift from liberal to alt-right needs to be addressed by questioning those who are still covertly supporting such movements and the world leaders shied away from addressing this.
Manish Tiwari is MD of HereandNow365 and he attended the WEF at Davos this year.