Prime Minister Narendra Modi will leave for the Swiss town of Davos on Monday to attend the World Economic Forum’s (WEF’s) 48th annual meeting. As the world’s business and political leaders descend on the town located in the Swiss Alps, Modi will be looking to take the “stage”, as the Wall Street Journal put it, to secure a more prominent role for India at the big table, where the major powers “shape the world’s rules and regulations”.
A day before he was scheduled to leave for Davos, Modi, who is set to deliver the opening plenary address at the WEF summit, said he would share his vision for future engagements between India and the international community. Further, he said he would seek the “serious attention” of world leaders for tackling existing and emerging challenges faced by contemporary global systems. Modi’s aim, to articulate a vision for the country’s engagement with the wider international community, even as India is reportedly set to leapfrog Britain and France in 2018 to become the world’s fifth-largest economy in dollar terms, echoes what Bharatiya Janata Party General Secretary Ram Madhav told WSJ about the country’s ambitions: We cannot be spectators. India wants to be a “stakeholder”, not “just a participant”.
And, true to Madhav’s words, Modi has already said he will be speaking to world leaders about global challenges. In doing so, he will likely also underline India’s position on such issues and the role it can play in dealing with them. Ahead of his visit, Modi said that in recent years, India’s engagement with the outside world has become “truly and effectively multi-dimensional” and that it was spread across “political, economic, people to people, and security” spheres, among others. “The existing and emerging challenges to the contemporary international system and global governance architecture deserve serious attention of leaders, governments, policy makers, corporates and civil societies around the world,” he tweeted.
The theme for this year’s WEF is ‘Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World’.
Here’s what to expect from the global summit
1) From Modi’s keynote address to our large contingent, India is leaving no stone unturned:
In what will be the first participation by an Indian head of state in the WEF after over two decades, PM Modi will deliver the keynote address at global summit’s plenary session on Tuesday.
For the first time, India will host the welcome reception at WEF, where global leaders will get to taste Indian cuisine and watch yoga sessions.
Further, India’s presence at the WEF this year is reportedly set to be the largest-ever. Six Union ministers (Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal, Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region of India Jitendra Singh, and Minister of State for External Affairs M J Akbar), two chief ministers (Maharashtra’s Devendra Fadnavis and Andhra Pradesh’s Chandrababu Naidu), high-ranking government officials, and more than 100 corporate chief executives, will figure among the registered participants from India.
2) India and Modi will be keenly watched by world leaders at Davos:
Writing for the Business Standard, Sai Manish contends that like Chinese President Xi Jinping, who gave the plenary address at last year’s summit, Modi would be “keenly watched” by the assembled global leaders at Davos. The interest in India is natural, given the various forecasts that India would ascend to the position of the world’s fifth-largest economy this year, and overtake Germany to become the fourth-largest in the year 2022.
At a time when globalisation is on shaky ground, with the spectre of protectionism looming, experts contend that world leaders would be eager to see what role India can play in the global economy.
As a former Reserve Bank of India governor told Sai Manish: “Modi is talking about globalisation and foreign policy has acquired a new dimension under the present government. I think PM Modi is going to be listened to very carefully at Davos though what he is going to say is unclear.”
Echoing the WSJ’s opinion, the former governor said Modi would look to bring home the significance of India’s rise as a global economic power for the assembled world community.
In what could prove to be a cause for relief for the assembled leaders, PM Modi aims to impress upon them that India is an open economy, that it is ready for global investments across sectors.
Announcing details of Modi’s visit, Secretary (Economic Relations) in the External Affairs Ministry, Vijay Gokhale told news agencies on Friday that India’s economy had significantly expanded since the last time India’s Prime Minister attended the summit, which made the current iteration and Modi’s visit “very important”. According to Gokhale, the visit would give a message about India’s engagement with the world and the focus would be on PM Modi’s vision for India’s economy, both at the domestic and global level.
Specific discussions focused on India, including one on “India’s role in the world” and others on how the country is rethinking its economics by utilising big data in policymaking and the role it can play in ensuring stability and peace in the Asian century, will be part of the WEF’s official sessions.
3) It’s all business:
At Davos, PM Modi will meet over 100 of the world’s top business leaders. Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) Secretary Ramesh Abhishek told news agencies on Friday that the highlight of the Prime Minister’s visit will be his dinner interaction on January 22 with top global CEOs. Abhishek added that 60 CEOs have already confirmed their participation, including 20 from India. The other 40, the DIPP secretary said, belong to 18 different countries. They will include CEOs of Airbus, Hitachi, BAE Systems and IBM.
Further, on January 23, Modi will also meet the WEF’s 120-member International Business Council, which includes the world’s top business leaders. The heads of General Motors, Salesforce and Royal Dutch Shell, Nestle, and JP Morgan, among others, will be present at this interaction.
According to Abhishek, Modi will use the two interactions as direct opportunities to highlight the transformative changes India has witnessed in the past three years and to articulate his vision for the country. Apart from these two sessions, the Prime Minister will also have a separate interaction with Indian CEOs in attendance at the WEF.
A key goal for the Indian delegation will be showcasing the jump in India’s ease of doing business rankings and other major reforms brought in by government at the main venue in front of 1,500 delegates. This will be part of a welcome reception hosted by the DIPP for WEF members.business-standard