There is no better way to start the year than an annual trip to Magic Mountains for the World Economic Forum in Davos, which I attended for the fourth time. Every time I come to this snow-covered Swiss town (which, this year, witnessed one of the heaviest snowfalls in over two decades), I discover new ideas, paradigms and role models among some of the world’s finest leaders and thinkers who invariably shape the contours of our social, economic and political discourse.
Klaus Schwab, who I greatly admire, recently called India “an image of optimism and promise”. This optimism explains the unmistakable buzz about India at Davos with Prime Minister Narendra Modi leading the largest ever government and business delegation to the summit and becoming the first ever Indian PM to deliver the opening plenary. Team India put together an impressive welcome reception hosted by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), investor roundtables by Invest India and giant billboards showcasing India’s rising economic prowess buttressed with culture, yoga, Indian cinema and culinary diplomacy — the world is indeed raising a toast to India.
India’s barometer of investor confidence recently received a positive impetus with two strong endorsements as it jumped 30 places to 100 in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) Report 2018. This is the greatest improvement seen in the case of India, placing it among the top 10 improvers in 2018. With GST being outside the assessment period and only a partial incorporation of the bankruptcy legislation, next year’s EoDB rank will see a further improvement.
Second, after a gap of 14 years, India received a sovereign credit upgrade from Moody’s, with the current rating placing it one notch above the lowest investment grade. The Indian economy is in a sweet spot with the IMF outlook on India placing it as the world’s fastest-growing major economy in 2018 and a $5 trillion economy by 2025, setting the tone for “India Means Business” at Davos.
As PM Modi took the world’s centrestage to deliver the opening plenary in impeccable Hindi — his communication full of confidence and conviction — the world got his message loud and clear. Modi demonstrated India’s strong resolve to collaborate with international partners to heal a “fractured world”, borrowing liberally from the ideals enshrined in the ancient Vedas and the Upanishads as well as quoting Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore. The PM gave a clarion call to tackle global warming, terrorism and protectionism reaffirming India’s strong commitment towards ensuring “peace, stability and security” through greater harmony and unity. The PM also emphasised “democracy, demography and dynamism”, which are shaping India inclusive growth agenda.
The “buzz” about India is now a gigantic “roar”, echoing the sentiments of the PM as he presented India’s policy emphasis on creating a new economic architecture and progress through orbit-changing structural reforms to global and Indian CEOs. During these interactions, the PM exuded confidence and conviction in the country’s reform trajectory and its remarkable entrepreneurial spirit.
The PM’s narrative on economic progress and reforms found collective resonance in the discussions and meetings led by Union ministers that accompanied him and my fellow industry leaders building bilateral and business bridges, many of which took place at the India Lounge.
I also joined the Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis along with Shah Rukh Khan and other guests at a CEO roundtable in the Maharashtra Lounge to launch the Fintech Policy for the state. As a member of the committee chaired by the chief minister, I have had the opportunity to contribute towards building the policy framework for developing the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) as India’s global Fintech hub. What better time to launch it than at Davos where an impending technological revolution is all pervasive in the discussions? The recently announced WEF Centre for Fourth Industrial Revolution in Mumbai will also maximise the benefits of science and technology and forge stronger bonds with the forum.
As I close my thoughts on Davos, I see a bold, assertive and confident “New India” buoyed by the energy, enthusiasm and conviction of our prime minister. India’s ascendancy in the world order is no longer a conjecture, but a welcome certainty.