View: Hardselling India, changing Davos


The participation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, from January 22 to 23 is a historic moment for India. It is also a sign of the country’s growing international confidence.

Modi is India’s first PM to assist the WEF since 1997. It will pull out all stops to project India as a leading power in this elite platform where global CEOs, politicians and thinkers interact, negotiate and model opinion.

The timing of Modi’s debut in Davos is timely as it seeks to accelerate the increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) to India since he took office in 2014. With economic indexes and interest rates rising slowly in Europe and the United States There is a danger that emerging markets such as India may lose their shine in the minds of investors and governments that sit on top of sovereign wealth funds.

By rubbing shoulders with an estimated 120 CEOs from leading commercial, financial and technology firms, as well as at least a dozen heads of state in Davos, Modi wishes to convey home the message that they must keep faith in India as a land. in constant improvement of unparalleled opportunity.

Modi has always sought international contributions and affirmations to catalyze his mission to transform India. Although the narrative within India about its performance and management of the economy has recently acquired a critical advantage, it has returned the blow to the skeptics with a series of strange ‘thumbs’ gestures.

The improvement of India’s credit rating by Moody’s (the first since 2004), its jump of 30 positions in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index and its highest ranking of 40 out of 137 countries in the Global Competitiveness Index The FEM are some recent highlights at a time when their opponents at home have been highlighting the mishaps resulting from initiatives such as demonetization and GST.

In Davos, where the environment is decidedly liberal, Modi will promote his credentials as a tenacious reformer who has implemented harsh measures that are changing India for the better. In the 2017 edition of the WEF, Chinese President Xi Jinping had monopolized attention by positioning his country as the anchor of a second phase of globalization, in contrast to the dark and anti-globalization environment in the West. Taking a sheet from the Chinese, Modi has secured his place as the keynote speaker at the plenary this time. He will use that unique primetime pulpit to show India as a center of innovation and a benign democratic power that is stabilizing the world through its responsible foreign policy.

If China was strutting at Davos 2017, India will not be so subtly saying now that it also matters, and that it is increasing in a way that is more respectful of human rights and the sovereignty of the partner nations.

Modi’s strategy of sponsoring a variety of marquee events at the WEF, and ensuring that India attracts maximum attention, is part of its momentum-building diplomacy that uses public and optical relations to surprise large international audiences and earn their trust . The cynics that point to the non-representative composition of WEF, and its unconditional pro-capitalist ideology, may wonder why Modi is making a charm offensive in an institution that does not serve the interests of the poor masses in India and around the world.

But the pragmatic perspective of Modi’s foreign policy is to extract whatever value it can get from any important global center of capital and knowledge for the Indian march. To begin with, India’s large delegation of corporate leaders, cabinet members and leading ministers could help to alter the appearance and purpose of the WEF, which until now has been the exclusive preserve of privileged white western males with others seeking the sides.