Davos: Indian presence not as high profile as others

The Indian presence is quite strong in numbers, with more than 100 business heads, about half a dozen ministers, led by Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma.

Davos: As the yearly five-day gathering of rich and powerful of the world for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting passes its half-way mark here, the India growth story has yet again emerged strong, but the same does not appear to be the case in terms of high profile presence.

The Indian presence is quite strong in numbers, with more than 100 business heads, about half a dozen ministers, led by Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, as also some other people, making it to close to 200. But in comparison, many other countries have got a much more impressive line up, including their heads of states.

India's neeighbouring country Pakistan also saw its Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, as also two top ministers, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and Finance Minister Afdul Hafeez Shaikh mark their presence, while criceter-turned-politician and a future PM-aspirant Imran Khan is also here, besides some business leaders.

Along with the top leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron, the heads of state from Cananda, Finland, Denmark, Mexico and about three dozen other countries were here.

US President Barack Obama is not here, but a number of top leaders, including Treasury Secretary Tim Geither has come, while the number of US CEOs is huge at more than 400.

The organisers say that they have seen a record participation of over 2,600 business and political leaders and other eminent persons this year's summit which began on January 25 and ends tomorrow.

From Indian corporate world also, a few regular names are missing. While Mukesh Ambani pulled out of a scheduled session at the last moment, regulars like Anand Mahindra and Chanda Kochhar are also absent this time.

Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia also could not make it, despite being named among panelists at a session here. Among the ministers, Ashwawni Kumar, Jyotiraditya Scidia and Sachin Pilot have come, but another regular Kamal Nath could not.

Among business leaders, Naresh Goyal only made a brief appearance at an Indian reception last night, but Vijay Mallya is yet to be seen. SBI Chairman Pratip Chauhary has also come mid-way and was scheduled to address a session.

Those present include Sunil Mittal, Uday Kotak, Rahul Bajaj, Sanjiv Bajaj, Azim Premji, Tulsi Tanti, Vineet Nayar, while IT companies like Infosys, TCS and Mahindra Satyam have got their senior executives including their CEO here at Davos.

Asked about the low-key India presence, CII Director General Chandrajit Bannerjee said the presence was not bad at all with about 110 CEOs and the Industry Minister himself.
"We do have a strong presence here and you can also see a strong focus on India in such global economic times," he said. Some other Indian participants said that some corporate leaders could not make because of their quarterly board meetings, which are taking place in a difficult economic scenario this time, while political leaders could have remained back in the country due to some important assembly elections.

Among the global leaders also, quite a few regulars are indeed missing this time around. Media baron Rupert Murdoch, who is said to have sealed quite a few large deals here, is not here, presumably because of the phone-hacking scandal in the UK.

Former IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn has been a regular Davos man, but he has become yet another scandal-hit casualty this time, while so has been the case of Swiss National Bank's former chief Philipp Hildebrand.

IMF's current Chief Christine Lagarde has kept her date with this Swiss alpine resort congregation, while Citigroup chief CEO Vikram Pandit is a big entry and is also co-chairing the meeting.
A host of other top bankers are present and so are about 70 billionaires including the legendary investor George Soros and Microsoft founder Bill Gates.