It's an annual brainstorming platform for the global movers and shakers. Indeed, every year the India Today Conclave is one of the most awaited media events which debates some of the burning issues of the time. This time the theme was "New Decade: Great Expectations" and a virtual who's who was present for the different sessions spread over two days.
India Today Editor-In-Chief Aroon Purie set the tone for the Conclave, and in his keynote address pointed out: "It's been a decade that began with the horrible sight of the burning towers and ended with the fall of the highest temples of capitalism… The momentous events of the past decade give us intimations of the future. The three big issues staring at us are: Global terror, international financial fragility, and the environmental threat."
Purie hoped that the Conclave would be a place where ideas to improve the future would be discussed. A star-studded line-up included Hollywood's superstar director James Cameron of Avatar fame and business leaders John Chambers and Alan Mullaly, the CEOs of Cisco and Ford, respectively. Chambers stressed the transformative power of technology highlighting Cisco's latest router whose capacity "will allow every single man, woman and child in India to make a video call at the same time." Cameron's session on "The Future of Cinema" was a show-stopper.
Nikesh Arora, President, Global Sales Operations, Google, pointed out that in the coming future almost half the content in the world will be consumed digitally. "Traditional models of reaching out to consumers will change." Mullaly spoke about the global auto industry recovery from the dramatic collapse of 2008, and how Ford managed to stay afloat without asking the US government (and taxpayer) for a bailout.
Other stalwarts at the conference included writer Salman Rushdie and thinker Nassim Nicholas Taleb. Taleb, the author of Black Stone, talked about the power of unknown and how to deal with it. Citing the example of President Reagan's initiative that led to the birth of the Internet, he said actions often have unintended consequences and are, therefore, difficult to predict.
From India, too, a bevy of achievers were present. A galaxy of political heavyweights, including Home Minister P. Chidambaram, HRD Minister Kapil Sibal and BJP President Nitin Gadkari, expressed a wide range of opinions about how the decade will unfold in politics and policy. Chidambaram spoke of the internal security challenges before the country. Watch out for the next issue of Business Today for interviews of the star speakers at the Conclave.