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India a 'bright star', 'inward focus' on globalisation as WEF Annual Meet ends

Amid rising uncertainties on political as well as economic fronts in different parts of the world, India continued to be seen as "bright star" even as clamour picked up momentum for speedier reforms and decision-making process to catch up with neighbouring China.

India a 'bright star', 'inward focus' on globalisation as WEF Annual Meet ends

Davos: As the five-day talkathon of global elite wrapped up in freezing cold climes of Swiss Alps in Davos on Friday, world leaders foresaw a new normal for globalisation with a lot more 'inward focus' by various countries including the US, even as global economy appeared poised for a fresh growth era propelled by India and China.

With the narrative getting populated with populism and politics-driven possible 'black swans' emerging after polls in some major economies, calls grew louder for 'responsive and responsible governments' to tackle income and gender inequalities on a war footing.

While China emerged as an unlikely hero of capitalism after presenting itself as the new champion of globalisation, experts seemed to be a less convinced lot about that country becoming the new leader of global economy in place of the US.

From the impact of automation and artificial intelligence on jobs to concerns about the future of globalisation, discussions touched upon a raft of pressing issues.

At the closing plenary, award winning Pakistani documentary filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, who is also a co-chairman of the annual meet, said it was good to see art included in the communications in Davos, and not seen as something separate.

As the first arts leader to become co-chair, Sharmeen said her experience was that there was lot of empathy and she also could see a feeling all around that there could be much more participation from women.

Bank of America Chief Brian Moynihan, another co-chair, said he could see some ideas on how sustainable development commitments can be met by for-profit enterprises. He applauded the theme of 'responsive and responsible governments'.

Another co-chair and Save the Children International CEO Helle Thorning-Schmidt said sustainable development goals were focused extensively here at the WEF meeting and she was pleased to see business leaders showing interest.

Royal Philips CEO Frans Van Houten, who is also a co- chair, said he saw great preparedness from ministers and business leaders in discussions on what world needs to do.

Schmidt added her big realisation at Davos was economic globalisation is not working and that it needs to be fixed.

Referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping's speech, she said that she felt we were witnessing "the week when the world turned upside down".

Sharmeen said one of the greatest things about Davos is that everyone is approachable and it has become more inclusive and much more interesting.

Stating that the world today needs much more empathy, she said she has seen a lot of that, which is also her big take away from here.

Amid rising uncertainties on political as well as economic fronts in different parts of the world, India continued to be seen as "bright star" even as clamour picked up momentum for speedier reforms and decision-making process to catch up with neighbouring China.

Eminent banker Uday Kotak said India has an opportunity to be a "bright star" in such a "sober" global economic scenario.

At the concluding session today, WEF paid tribute to former Israeli President Shimon Peres who died last year.

WEF founder Klaus Schwab described Peres as a true global statesman and a person who truly embodied Davos culture.

He also remembered the day when Peres and late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat came together on the stage at WEF Annual Meeting in Davos.

While discussions about Donald Trump's presidency in the world's largest economy and concerns over Britain's decision to leave the European Union continued to bother leaders gathered here, developmental issues also found their space, with stitching up of some partnerships, including for developing vaccines to deal with epidemics in a short time.

WEF, government think-tank NITI Aayog, the World Intellectual Property Organisation and the Cornell University have joined hands to develop an India Innovation Index to measure the performance of Indian states.

The first ranking is expected to be released at the India Economic Summit in New Delhi on October 4-6, 2017.

Jinping said that globalisation is a "double-edged" sword but cannot be blamed for the world's problems, and pushed for greater role for emerging economies in governance of global institutions.

"Nobody will emerge as a winner in a trade war," he cautioned.

Presenting a strong case for free trade, British Prime Minister Theresa May asserted that the UK would retain its internationalist approach despite Brexit -- a development that has sparked off uncertainties in the global economic order.

While a "new normal" is emerging where many countries would prioritise an "inward look" at their national policies, New Development Bank President K V Kamath said India is in a "sweet spot".

For taking forward the Asian growth story amid lingering global economic uncertainties, business leaders and economists felt that India and China have a great role to play by way of regional cooperation.

More than a 100-member strong Indian delegation including ministers, government officials and business leaders came to this snow-capped town for the WEF meet.

Showcasing India's potential, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said, "We are very friendly for investments and it is appropriate time to invest in India".

India's surprise move to demonetise old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes and its impact on the economy too was discussed at the WEF.

Union Minister Nirmala Sitharaman emphasised that the government "owed" demonetisation to the nation and it had to do it to eradicate black money menace and bring hoarded cash back into the banking system.

Talking about the global context, noted economist Kishore Mahbubani said there is indeed a vacuum at the leadership position and it needs to be seen who fills it.

Favouring a free market economic model, billionaire industrialist Mukesh Ambani said distribution of wealth is a much easier problem once you have created it, so you should not constrain creation of wealth.

Mirroring stark income inequality in the society, a study by rights group Oxfam said India's richest 1 percent now hold a huge 58 percent of the country's total wealth -- higher than the global figure of about 50 percent.

It found that just 57 billionaires in India now have same wealth (USD 216 billion) as that of the bottom 70 percent population of the country.

Globally, just 8 billionaires have the same amount of wealth as the poorest 50 percent of the world population.

Policymakers across the world must act now to check inequalities even as there is no "silver bullet" to contain this problem, IMF chief Christine Lagarde said.

Leaders at Microsoft, IBM and other top technology companies said there is a need to create "new collar jobs" as innovations would replace some jobs and existing employees would need to be re-trained amid artificial intelligence emerges as a key tool.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said artificial intelligence (AI) is moving on the right ladder and highlighted its importance in reviving the sluggish global GDP growth.

Confident that all concerns on it are being handled, he said the world is also going to move from supervised to "non-supervised" state.