Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to make his debut at the World Economic Forum’s annual jamboree of the global elite in the snow-laden Swiss resort town of Davos next month, where he is also expected to address a special plenary session.
While the final list of participants would be released next month itself for the five-day Davos Annual Meeting of Geneva-based WEF beginning January 22, 2018, sources familiar with the programme said Indian presence will be really big this time with over 100 CEOs including Mukesh Ambani, Chanda Kochhar and Uday Kotak, as also Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan and top filmmaker Karan Johar expected to participate.
Modi is expected to be accompanied by some union ministers and top government officials, while a large India Inc delegation led by apex industry chamber CII will also be present at the meet, whose theme will be ‘Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World’. The ministers whose names are being considered include Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu, Railways Minister Piyush Goyal, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari and Oil Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.
NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant and DIPP Secretary Ramesh Abhishek are also expected to be present. Other big names from India and abroad include former RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan and IMF chief Christine Lagarde. Sources said Modi is expected to be there on January 23-24 and may address the first special plenary of the biggest congregation of top global leaders including over 40 heads of state and government. He may hold a number of bilaterals besides other meetings.
Modi will be the first Indian Prime Minister at the Davos summit since 1997 when the then Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda had attended. This is one of the few global summits yet to be attended by Modi. To be attended by over 3,000 global leaders including CEOs, heads of state and government, artists and civil society members, the Davos Annual Meeting of WEF will conclude on January 26.
Indian social entrepreneur and activist Chetna Sinha will be among seven all-women co-chairs for the event. This will be the first time in WEF’s nearly five-decade-old history that its Davos Annual Meeting would have all women co-chairs. Sinha will be joined by IMF’s Christine Lagarde, Norway Prime Minister Erna Solberg, IBM chief Ginni Rometty, ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow, CERN Director-General Fabiola Gianotti and ENGIE CEO Isabelle Kocher.
The WEF, which describes itself as an international organisation for public-private cooperation and was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation, hosts its annual meeting in Davos every year in January. In a statement last month announcing its co-chairs for the 2018 meeting, the WEF said that over 3,000 leaders, representing 100 countries, will gather in a collaborative effort to shape the global, regional and industry agendas, with a commitment to improve the state of the world.
Sinha has been a social entrepreneur, a microfinance banker, an economist, a farmer and an activist. Since 1986, she has been working with marginalised communities and is founder and president of Mann Deshi Mahila Bank and Mann Deshi Foundation. The WEF, which has been criticised in the past in some quarters for relatively lower presence of women, said these co-chairs represent both the public and private sectors, international organisations, organised labour, academia and science as well as civil society and social entrepreneurship.
The Forum has said the programme of the 2018 Annual Meeting will explore the root causes of, and pragmatic solutions for, the manifold political, economic and social fractures facing global society today. “Creating a shared future in a fractured world requires addressing issues on the global agenda in a holistic, interconnected and future-oriented way,” WEF’s Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab said.
Art and culture will also figure prominently this time with 40 cultural leaders expected in the Swiss Alpine town of Davos, including filmmakers Feras Fayyad (Syria) and Wanuri Kahiu (Kenya), science-fiction author Hao Jingfang (China), artists Mehdi Ghadyanloo (Iran) and Trevor Paglen (US), and navigator Nainoa Thompson (Hawaii, US). Also joining are long-time members of the Forum’s Cultural Leaders community, including photographer Platon (US), choreographer Jin Xing (China), and musicians will.i.am and Yo-Yo Ma (US).
The registered Indian participants also include CII Director General Chandrajit Banerjee, as also Gautam Adani, Swami Agnivesh, Rahul Bajaj, Sanjiv Bajaj, N Chandrasekaran, Sajjan Jindal, Anand Mahindra, Lakshmi Mittal and son Aditya, Sunil Mittal and son Kavin, Nandan Nilekani, Indra Nooyi, Azim Premji, Ajay Piramal, Ajay Singh, Naresh Goyal and Tulsi Tanti. Mukesh Ambani is expected to be accompanied by wife Nita as also children Akash and Isha.