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WEF 2018: PM Modi rolls out $5-trillion India dream in Davos

Rajeev Dubey     January 24, 2018

Even as the sun extended brightness and warmth at the snowing and freezing ski resort of Davos in Switzerland, the World Economic Forum - the world's biggest gathering of global CEOs - too warmed up to an impassioned invocation of Indian ethos, culture, principles and ambitions by none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

It's been vicious weather at Davos for the past 72 hours with nearly four feet of snowfall, the worst in 30 years, causing widespread disruption and traffic jams across the small town. It even forced the PM to take the road route from Zurich airport instead of the helicopter he was supposed to take when he landed from Delhi in Air India One.


Delivering the speech in chaste Hindi and invoking the oldest Upanishad, the Isha Upanishad, Modi began by discussing the theme of this year's WEF "Shared Future In a Fractured World" but then displayed the full breadth of his oratory covering the widest possible array of issues. He quoted the Upanishads, saying Indians consider the world one big family. The PM also had a message and a challenge for Indians and India Inc. He set the target of $5 trillion by 2025: an ambitious goal that requires India to nearly double in eight years.

However, he also said that if we do that, forget about being job-seekers, Indians will be job givers. Another ambitious goal for a country that is struggling to create enough jobs within the economy. That was a comment for detractors who have criticised his nearly four-year-old government for jobless growth.

The PM emphasised that a predictable, stable, transparent and progressive India is good news in an otherwise uncertain global environment. For the global community his message was very clear. India has removed red tape, India is welcoming, India is safe and India will do everything to make foreign investors feel at home. He also said that India has no history of exploiting other people's resources and so doing business with India is good for other nations.

For the comity of nations he had two messages: One, a call that global institutions need to reform and become more inclusive and democratic to let countries such as India find their rightful place in them. He was obviously using the platform of the world's biggest gathering of global CEOs to tell the world why the UN and the Security Council need to reform and expand.

But he was clearly also referring to other global institutions as well. Second, he took a higher ground and said that humanity faces three big challenges: climate change; terrorism and reverse globalisation. On climate change he again invoked the Upanishads saying they teach us to treat earth as our mother and that humans cannot afford to be in conflict with mother nature. On terrorism he attacked the concept of "good terrorist" and "bad terrorist" and said that it should not be acceptable. And on the globalisation front he outlined how protectionism and economic nationalism have reversed the trend of globalisation and that global trade needs to be increased instead.

"India's been ignored for many years. Although we've had large Indian delegations, but the profile of India as such in Davos has not been all that great. I have seen this as the peak. It's never been like this. There was a moment earlier, some years back, when there was an India week, etc. That was more of the IT part of India which was presented. But this, I think, is a much larger canvas of India, which has been presented," said India Today Group Chairman and Editor-in-Chief Aroon Purie.

"India's position as a spiritual leader has always been acknowledged across the centuries. So drawing on that, and that will be guiding India's position on various subjects which affect each and every country on earth. That way the positioning was perfect," said SBI chairman Rajnish Kumar.   


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