From a 15-day long jamboree, when it was first launched in 1971 as the European Management Symposium, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has come a fair distance, and time, as the annual conclave now lasts four days. India's association with the WEF - the name that was adopted in 1987 - goes back to 1984, when the first India Economic Summit was held in New Delhi.
India has had only three Prime Ministerial representations at Davos - two by P V Narasimha Rao and one by H D Deve Gowda. Narendra Modi's address at the Davos Plenary will be the first by an Indian Head of Government, and the first visit of an Indian Prime Minister at Davos in the 21st century.
Manmohan Singh attended Davos in his capacity as the Finance Minister but never as Prime Minister, in the 10 years that he held the latter office. Rajiv Gandhi was invited to WEF headquarters in Geneva in 1984, when he was still General Secretary of the Congress.
The WEF, however, is not all about politics, or business, or the business of politics, or even the politics of business. Several artistes from around the world have received the WEF's Crystal Award - among them Grammy winner and Bharat Ratna awardee, sitar player Pandit Ravi Shankar, who became the first Indian artiste to get the Crystal Award, in 1996.
Sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan received the Crystal Award in 1997, the last time an Indian Prime Minister attended the WEF at Davos.
This year, Shah Rukh Khan is among the three recipients of the Crystal Award, joining the list of Indian artistes such as Mallika Sarabhai, Amitabh Bachchan, Shabana Azmi and A R Rahman.
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