State teams pitch tent at Davos for World Economic Forum

Ministers from southern States attend WEF

Updated - May 23, 2022 07:38 am IST

Published - May 22, 2022 08:19 pm IST - Davos

The Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu lounges set up for the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos on May 22, 2022.

The Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu lounges set up for the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos on May 22, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

With nearly 100 CEOs and over a dozen government leaders here for a rare springtime annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Indian contingent at this Swiss ski resort town is brimming with confidence when it comes to share their story of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and attracting more investments.

The government leaders and their associates are also confident that India will be able to tell the world that their approach towards the Ukraine crisis has been the most balanced, even as a vast majority of the world leaders who have congregated here are expected to take on Russia strongly for waging the war.

Several Indian CEOs as well as government leaders also feel that there is a strong need to focus on creating necessary infrastructure for fighting any future pandemic and also to effectively defeat the existing one.

Other key issues, they feel, which will dominate the five-day event include climate change, crypto currencies, role of multilateral institutions and rising costs across the world.

Some are also of the view that the unfolding political situation back in India in the run up to the general elections of 2024, and various State polls before that, would be of keen interest for the global leaders assembled here, while so could be the issues of societal conflicts as well as income and gender inequalities.

One Indian CEO, however, said almost the entire world is seeing a rising level of polarisation and any India-specific issue should not gather much momentum at a summit the size of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting.

The Ukraine crisis, climate change and preparing a pandemic-ready world are the three main issues that would dominate the discussions over the next five days here, he added.

The Indian story at Davos this time also has a key component of various States making their strong respective pitches for investments and global collaborations.

Prominent among those are Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra.

Among these, the Telangana team led by minister K.T. Rama Rao will be making a strong pitch for presenting his State as a key investment destination and innovator, while Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Bommai has expressed confidence about attracting more investments into the State.

"All set to participate in World Economic Forum Summit at Davos. Will be interacting with business heads of 18 countries about important economic & environmental issues. Davos will give great impetus to upcoming #InvestKarnataka2022 Global Investors' Meet," he said in a tweet.

This will be Mr. Bommai's first overseas trip as the Chief Minister. His predecessor B.S. Yediyurappa had attended the Davos summit in January 2020.

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy, as also Maharashtra minister Aditya Thackeray and Thangam Thennarasu from Tamil Nadu will lead the respective delegations from their States.

Mr. Thackeray, after inaugurating the Maharashtra pavilion here with ministers Subhash Desai and Nitin Raut, said the State has a strong presence here this year and they intend to make it better at all global platforms, as he pitched "a stronger Maharashtra for a stronger India".

Three union ministers – Piyush Goyal, Mansukh Mandaviya and Hardeep Singh Puri – as well as nearly 100 business leaders from India are also participating in the event.

Mr. Goyal said India's participation in the WEF Annual Meeting 2022, will help reinforce the country's crucial role as a rising economic powerhouse and project it as an attractive hub for business and investment globally.

In addition to top industrialists such as Gautam Adani, Sanjiv Bajaj, Hari S. Bhartia, Shyam Sunder Bhartia, Kumar Mangalam Birla, Shobana Kamineni, Rajan and Sunil Mittal and Pawan Munjal, a large number of young Indian business leaders are also attending the summit.

These include Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla, HCL Tech Chairperson Roshni Nadar Malhotra, CoinSwitch Founder and CEO Ashish Singhal, EaseMyTrip Co-Founder Prashant Pitti, Oyo Rooms CEO Ritesh Agarwal, Ecoware Solutions CEO Rhea Mazumdar Singhal, Trashcon CEO Nivedha RM, and BYJU'S founder and CEO Byju Raveendran.

Asked about his expectations from Davos, Mr. Singhal of CoinSwitch said, ''A technological arms race is on across the world. Countries that win this race will be the next big superpower.'' He said tomorrow's internet and businesses will be built on the blockchain, and nations that are agile, move early and build today will reap the benefits.

''Technology, not guns, will decide who will lead the world. It is in India's interest to come together with its democratic partners such as the U.S. and U.K. at fora such as Davos and shape this technological shift,'' he said.

Mr. Singhal said India is an ambitious nation and it built a service sector that global giants count upon.

''Our startup ecosystem is 100 unicorn-strong. Now, it's time to accelerate. With blockchain, India has the opportunity to build tomorrow's Web3 giants in India, for the world. The next 100 unicorns will be built on blockchain, and they will go on to be tomorrow's Google and Amazon,'' the CoinSwitch CEO said.

Mr. Pitti of EaseMyTrip said, ''Being at Davos, among the world leaders, is itself great motivation to push ourselves even harder and raise the India flag bit more higher.''

''I am looking forward to learning new perspectives and technologies of an ever-changing world, and also making right connections to make EaseMyTrip truly global," said Mr. Pitti, an IIT Madras alumni.

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