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Five-day Davos meet concludes on a gloomy note
Davos, Feb 01: Global business and political leaders on Sunday left the Alpine Swiss resort on a gloomy note after five days of brainstorming, with a warning that protectionist efforts could make the situation worse, as 18 countries including India decided against trade barriers. At the five-day meeting of corporate and political leaders at Davos, the emerging BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) economies articulated the worries of the developing nations and marked their strong presence telling the Americans and others in the west how their business models turned into bubbles, which were to burst anyway.

"History is witness that whenever countries try to prop up protectionism, it intensifies depression," Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath said.

Trade ministers of key WTO members who met here on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum conclave also resolved to give priority to efforts to reach a deal under the much-delayed Doha Round and guard against protectionism.

The issue of the financial fraud at Satyam Computer came up for major discussion at the WEF.

Assuring the global audience that India`s regulatory systems are strong, the country`s government and corporate leaders described the multi-crore Satyam scandal as a one-off incident and said bigger frauds have happened in other countries.

Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said that while Satyam has been a negative development, the Indian authorities have taken corrective action.

Indian leaders said the country cannot be judged just by the Satyam episode.

Commerce and Industry Minister Kamal Nath, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal, Rajya Sabha MP N K Singh and India Brand Equity Foundation CEO Aparna Dutt Sharma -- all present at the WEF meeting -- did not allow themselves to be put on the defensive on the Satyam issue.

The Mahindra and Mahindra group, with major interests in IT, today said it will look at acquiring the troubled Satyam Computer Services if it finds a strategic value in the deal.

"We have a major IT company. We are watching the situation with interest. If there is anything of strategic value, clearly we will be looking at it," M&M Vice-Chairman and Managing Director Anand Mahindra said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum meeting here.

Mahindra, who was one of the co-chairs of the meeting, wanted a clear indication from the Obama administration as to where America stands in terms of protectionism.

"The most important thing is what Obama will do on protectionism. Everyone is interpreting Obama`s word. I believe the US needs to make a very strong statement where it stands," he said participating in the concluding session.

Legendary Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan has been honoured with the World Economic Forum`s Crystal Award at Davos for his contribution to the world of cinema. Bachchan received the award along with another Indian artist - Mallika Sarabhai - a Kuchipudi and Bharatnatyam danseuse.

Bureau Report
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