WEF meet to begin Tuesday; India growth story to be watched
Davos: As the annual WEF jamboree begins here Tuesday, over 100 business and political leaders from India will join the world's rich and powerful, including 50 government heads, to discuss current state of economic affairs in freezing weather of this Swiss Alpine resort town.
The top leaders attending this annual Davos meet would include British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Italy's Mario Monti, along with heads of global organisations like World Bank, IMF, WTO, United Nations, as also CEOs of hundreds of global blue-chip companies.
Indian government and India Inc will be strongly represented at the six-day event, where India's growth story and its recent slippages, amid a still struggling global economic recovery, are expected to be closely watched and widely discussed with 'Resilent Dynamism' being the theme of this year's annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting.
The Indian delegation, comprising of about 100 business and political leaders, would be headed by Union Minister Kamal Nath, who emerged as one of the key strategists in the passage of contentious retail FDI bill in Parliament last month.
Nath, Minister for Urban Development and Parliamentary Affairs, would be accompanied by his senior colleague and Minister for Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma, Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Minister Praful Patel and Power Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia.
On the sidelines of this event, which would continue till January 27, the ministers are expected to meet their government leaders from various countries, as also heads of numerous MNCs to apprise them of steps being taken by India to strengthen its position as a robust investment destination.
The corporate India would be represented by Anand Mahindra, Chanda Kochhar, Rahul Bajaj, Azim Premji, Sunil Bharti Mittal and heads of a number of Indian companies, including IT giants like TCS, Infosys, HCL Technologies and Mahindra Satyam.
Those expected at the WEF's 43rd annual congregation of top leaders also include billionaire industrialist Mukesh Ambani and NRI steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal.
With a major part of the world still reeling under economic crisis, selection of the theme by the Geneva-based WEF has already faced some criticism.
But, the WEF says that the need to bring in a 'resilient dynamism' becomes much more relevant in times like these when the world is continuously faced with unexpected events of enormous consequences -- ranging from financial crisis to the Arab Spring to natural disasters like earthquake and cyclones.
Announcing the annual meeting, WEF Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab said that the world is seeing "a new reality of sudden shocks and prolonged global economic malaise, particularly in major economies experiencing economic austerity".
"Future growth in this new context requires dynamism - bold vision and even bolder action. Either attribute - Resilience or Dynamism - alone is insufficient, as leadership in 2013 will require both," he said.
Top global public leaders who will participate are Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurr'a, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, WTO Chief Pascal Lamy and American Senator John McCain.
This year's meeting, which would be WEF's 43rd at Davos, would be co-chaired by Coca-Cola chief Muhtar Kent, Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris, UBS Chairman Axel Weber, Embraer President Frederico Curado, Toshiba Chairman Atsutoshi Nishida, as also Transparency International's Huguette Labelle.
The annual WEF meet, which is held every year in the peak of winters in this small Swiss town, would be attended by over 2,500 participants from over 100 countries, representing business, government, academia and civil society.
This would include nearly 50 heads of state or government and more than 1,500 business leaders.
The other heads of state or government attending the WEF meet are from Denmark, Egypt, Finland, Ireland, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Libya, Malaysia, Mauritius, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Palestinian Territories, the Philippines, Qatar, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland and Zimbabwe, among others.
While at Davos, the trade ministers from key WTO member countries, including India, would also meet separately to discuss the world economic scenario and issues related with Doha Round of negotiations for a global trade deal.
Big differences between developing and developed countries have plagued the WTO talks, which were launched in 2001 in Doha, Qatar's capital, with the goal of helping poor countries prosper through enhanced trade.
Besides his counterparts from other countries, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma would also meet business leaders from numerous global companies, including TESCO, Standard Chartered, Diageo, Novartis, Merck, Unilever and Philips.
"We view this (WEF) as an opportunity to showcase the opportunities in India and position India as an attractive investment destination," Sharma has said.
At the WEF, Sharma and other Indian leaders will convey the measures taken by the government for liberalisation of FDI regime and other major initiatives for creating industrial infrastructure.