I had a brush with Bollywood royalty when I met Shah Rukh Khan, an icon of Indian film, in Davos on Tuesday. He was there along with actress Cate Blanchett and Sir Elton John for the 24th Annual Crystal Awards ceremony on Monday, which recognises artists who have shown exemplary commitment to improving the state of the world.
It’s clear that India’s presence has been growing at Davos – and it’s not just about the movie stars. The India delegation is huge and you’ll see hundreds of Indians strolling around the mountain town. There’s been an “India Adda” – known as a gathering point in the Indian context – for years. The Adda is now known as “India Lounge”, and remains a buzzing hub to showcase how far India has come.
So it is not surprising that among all the world leaders flying into Davos to set out their stall, Indian PM Narendra Modi had a prime pitch. In his opening speech at the summit, Mr Modi set a positive mood for the rest of the conference. He mentioned his country’s rapid growth: “Last time an Indian PM came to Davos in 1997, our GDP was little more than 400 billion dollars, now it’s more than six times.”
His clarity of purpose and mission to drive change were evident to everyone in the conference centre, where later in the day, he mingled with the business community.
From a JLL point of view, India remains one of our key markets, and we foresee it will continue to be a top developing market for investors, with its Tier 1 office and retail sectors projected to show the highest total returns this year.
The short-term disruption resulting from reforms such as demonetisation and the implementation of Goods & Services Tax has come to an end, paving the way for change. Modi sold India incredibly well to WEF attendees, saying: “India will be a US$5 trillion economy by 2025; we will become job givers and not job seekers.”
I firmly believe that 2018 will be the year more real estate investors and occupiers consider a strategic entry into India, given its positive long-term fundamentals and economic growth.
The general mood in Davos this year is a lot more positive than what I experienced last year. When chatting with delegates, the general consensus is that the global climate will remain positive across all three regions. However, there is a clear sense that complacency must be avoided. As IMF chief Christine Lagarde has said, “Let’s repair the roof while the sun is shining.”
Despite the heavy snow and chilly temperatures, the sun is shining on Davos.