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As WEF gets underway at Davos, India sells stability, growth, and dynamism

WEF 2022: With the war in Ukraine, world is grappling with economic uncertainty, but India finds itself in a sweet spot at the World Economic Forum in Davos

Photo: World Economic Forum

Photo: World Economic Forum

Pranjal Sharma Davos
The war in Ukraine has made its presence felt at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos. As political and business leaders' debate, they remain fearful of Europe's economic future. There is a sense of gloom among many business leaders as energy shortage and economic recession rear their heads.

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Global investors are keenly assessing the presence of Indian delegation at Davos. As other investment destinations increasingly look uncertain, India has emerged as a region of political stability and economic dynamism. The government too is capitalising on the mood by showcasing its reformist decisions and rise of Unicorns to global leaders.

India’s strategy at Davos in 2022 is significantly different from previous years. The Indian delegation led by Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal is making extra efforts to improve internal coordination. Before the start of the conference Goyal invited all delegates to share views on India’s positioning. Then on the first evening he conducted another huddle with business leaders, young entrepreneurs, and government officials. The more than an hour-long meeting ended at 11 pm. The feedback was incorporated, and a microsite dedicated to India has been created as a resource centre.

The government is keen that the delegation speak in one voice during discussions with various global investors. The objective is to constantly monitor the perception about India and counter questions with facts.

Goyal’s team at the ministry, the Invest India officers, and senior members of Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) are coordinating with state governments to craft a common response on several issues. The ministry is sharing briefing notes with all delegates on issues like India’s stand on Ukraine, gas purchase, wheat exports and PLI schemes. The latest numbers on trade and investment are being made available so that there is minimal confusion about numbers.

Ministers from several state governments including Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh are in Davos to meet global investors. While the spirit of competition remains healthy, all states will underline the recent steps taken by the government to promote investments at a national as well as regional level.

This has become especially important at a time when the war in Ukraine is weighing heavy on Europe. Industry leaders and the government believe that India must promote itself as a stable, reformist and growing economy. Global investors are concerned about the continuing impact of Ukraine war on US and Europe. The China story does not look promising since the ill-treatment of its storied entrepreneurs like Jack Ma. Moreover, the debt crisis triggered in several countries by China’s economic diplomacy has made investors fearful.

India on the other hand is set to grow at over 8 per cent, according to estimates. The rise in FDI and investment is further adding to the positive sentiment in the economy.

The Indian delegation includes several legacy leaders like Sunil Mittal, Hari Bhartia, Anish Shah, MD & CEO Mahindra & Mahindra, Sanjiv Bajaj, Sumant Sinha, Adar Poonawala, and Pawan Munjal. They are mixing with young unicorn founders like Nikhil Kamath of Zerodha, Prashant Pitti of Easemytrip; Ashish Singhal of Coinswitch and Vidit Atrey of Meesho. This is the first Davos outing for many young entrepreneurs. The government is proudly referring to the rise of unicorns in India and the founders are pleasantly surprised by the attention they are getting from delegates from India and other countries.

Business leaders are urging the government to be aggressive in their promotion as a region of economic dynamism while the rest of the world grapples with uncertainty. They say, this is the right time for India to articulate its strengths in a loud voice.
Disclaimer: These are personal views of the writer. They do not necessarily reflect the opinion of or the Business Standard newspaper

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First Published: May 23 2022 | 9:39 AM IST

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