The new portfolio of urban development seems to have had a poetic influence on Kamal Nath. A regular at Davos since 1993, the minister says he can clearly see a huge shift in interest from the Atalntic Ocean to the South China Seas and the Indian Ocean. Earlier, you could see only the US and European faces at the World Economic Forum, but the interest is now clearly focused on Indians and Chinese. “If we are among the emerging nations, they are the submerging nations,” Kamal Nath, never known to miss an opportunity to give a quotable quote, says.
Level playing field
Davos can be a great leveller. It’s quite common to see some of India Inc’s topshots to wait patiently along with commoners for the WEF buses to ferry them to the next destination, or stand in long queues to pick up their lunch packs. Even Mukesh Ambani, who has preferred to spend most of his time in the upscale Hotel Belvedere for private meetings, was no exception. As the road to the hotel was full of snow, Ambani and wife Nita were waiting on the pavement of the icy Davos street for their car to arrive. It took a long time for the “limo jam” to clear, but they didn’t seem to mind it at all.
Far away from the venue of the World Economic Forum meetings, some of India Inc’s leading lights were enjoying an “Ice experience” of a different kind. They were enjoying an exclusive ride on the latest version of Audi’s flagship – the new A8 L sedan – at the Seepromenade in Davos. The executives who enjoyed the Audi Ice experience included Malvinder Mohan Singh, Baba Kalyani, Sanjiv Bajaj and Rajendra Pawar. The car, which has a long wheelbase, will make its India debut in February 2011. Audi has been the exclusive chauffeur partner of the WEF since 1987.
A day before the WTO informal meeting, India, China and South Africa say the developing countries are being asked to further open their markets, under the draft proposals of a multilateral agreement, without any reciprocity from the rich nations. Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma, who met his counterparts from China and South Africa on the sidelines of the WEF meeting, said any effort to finalise the Doha Round could not ignore past trade-offs or require new disproportionate and unilateral concessions from developing countries.
The biggest ‘threat’
What is the biggest security risk confronting the global economy? Oil price spike, or inflation, or the turmoil in the European economy? Actually, none of these, if the Global Agenda Council on Geopolitical Risk, an expert advisory group of the World Economic Forum, is to be believed. The biggest economic worry was the rebalancing of global power from established economies to emerging giants. Whether it was China’s quest for energy and resource security through investments in Africa or its increasingly muscular defence of its “near abroad”, the potential for proxy wars or even direct conflict looked set to grow, the group said on Friday.
In case you are puzzled by the question, ask UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon. Speaking at a session on sustainable development at the World Economic Forum, he said the rich and the famous attending the five-day event would do well to dwell on the other definition of WEF, and that was water, energy and food.
“There is no Planet B, so one should focus a little more on the other WEF as well,” the secretary general said.