Yesterday at the World Economic Forum at Davos, I had the opportunity to participate in a discussion with Andhra Pradesh’s Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu. Mr. Naidu mentioned with evident pride and satisfaction that India is the fifth-largest contingent at Davos this year – with a whopping 120 delegates in attendance (even more than China).
In fact, I have noted since my arrival that the air here is perceptibly charged with India and its rebooted growth story. The multiple ‘Make in India’ signs and hoardings visible all across the conference venues send the country pride barometer soaring. Between sessions and client meetings, I see a number of Indian business delegations and some of the top leaders of Indian industries like Rahul Bajaj in active discussions with their global counterparts. I can’t help reflecting on how markedly this turn-out contrasts with that of the WEF last year, where most of India’s top brass were conspicuous by their absence.
Evidently, things have turned a corner for India this year. There is tremendous respect for India’s business and political fraternity; the shoulders of our Indian delegates are squared and their heads high. Given the overall positivity, it is really quite surprising that Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not come to Davos, as well. The general feeling is that he should have been around, given the huge amount of attention that is now on him. His presence would have been a shot in the arm for the country and the attending Indian business delegation.
On my way to a client meeting at the Congress Center, I overheard some interesting backroom conversation about how the organizers had to make last-minute rearrangements to accommodate the massive attendance for Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s session this year. Again, a sharp contrast to last year, where they actually had to down-size the room for the same session because of the lacklustre participation.
I am braced to note that multinational companies are much more forthcoming for meetings this time. Information Technology office occupiers who had put the brakes on their expansion plans for India in 2014 are now actively revisiting the drawing board. I deduct from my meetings that India is going to see a massive spurt in international IT presence over the next two years. In fact, MNC corporates and investors are also discussing the potential for purchasing rather than merely leasing real estate assets.
And for this reason, despite the glamor and excitement of the World Economic Forum, I can’t wait to return and get back to work. There is a lot to be done!