Modi to address WEF plenary as businesses look for new offerings

22 Jan 2018


Prime Minister Narendra Modi today left for Davos, Switzerland to attend the World Economic Forum's (WEF's) 48th annual meeting, becoming the first Indian prime minister to attend a WEF summit in 21 years.

A bevy of the world's business and political leaders have descended on the town located in the Swiss Alps, and are eagerly looking for Modi to take the "stage" to savour his latest offerings.

On 23 January, Narendra Modi will address a plenary session of the World Economic Forum, the first time in 21 years since an Indian prime minister attended the event. This time around, however, finance minister Arun Jaitley will be giving Davos a miss as he has to devote time for Budget 2018.

A day before he was scheduled to leave for Davos, Modi said he would share his vision for future engagements between India and the international community. Further, he said he would seek the "serious attention" of world leaders for tackling existing and emerging challenges faced by contemporary global systems.

Modi hopes to articulate a vision for the country's engagement with the wider international community, even as India opens up new avenues for global businesses.

Modi's declared philosophy of ''Together with all, progress for all'' also chimes in well with the WEF's theme for Davos 2018: ''Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World''.

''I look forward to my first visit to the World Economic Forum at Davos, at the invitation of India's good friend and founder of the WEF, Prof Klaus Schwab. The theme of the forum, 'Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World' is both thoughtful and apt, Modi said on his departure for Davos.

The existing and emerging challenges to the contemporary international system and global governance architecture deserve serious attention of leaders, governments, policy makers, corporates and civil societies around the world, he added.

The prime minister noted that India's engagement with the outside world in recent years has been truly and effectively multi-dimensional, covering almost all spheres, including political, economic, people to people, security and others.

''At Davos, I look forward to sharing my vision for India's future engagement with the international community.''

Apart from the events for the World Economic Forum, Modi is expected to have bilateral meetings with the President of the Swiss Confederation Alain Berset and Prime Minister of Sweden Stefan Lofven.

''I am confident that these bilateral meetings would be fruitful and give a boost to our relations with these countries and further strengthen economic engagement,'' Modi said ahead of his departure.

The immediate purpose of his speech is to spearhead a campaign driven by India's Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, highlighting the huge opportunities that today's India offers: its economy is forecast to expand by as much as 8 per cent annually over the next four years and to be worth some $5 trillion by 2025, when its middle class is expected to number some 550 million.

Modi's government is keen to present India as an attractive destination for investors, and as a country already being transformed by the initiatives that he has driven since becoming prime minister in 2014.

Notable among these are the Goods and Service Tax introduced in July 2017, and the adoption of a technology-driven transparent approach to doing business. The most dramatic manifestation of the latter was the decision to demonetise - and discourage a corruption-prone cash economy - with the controversial 2016 withdrawal of Rs500 and Rs1,000 notes.

The progress Modi has made has already been internationally recognised by rating agencies such as Moody's and by authoritative indices. In 2017, India leaped 30 places (to 100th out of 190 countries) in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business rankings, while the World Economic Forum's own Global Competitiveness Report ranked India No. 40 of 137 countries, its highest-ever position (it stood at No. 71 three years ago).

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