The war in Ukraine made its presence felt at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos. As a debate between political leaders and business leaders, they remain worried about Europe’s economic future. There is a sense of gloom among many business leaders as energy shortages and economic recession take hold.
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Global investors greatly appreciate the presence of an Indian delegation in Davos. As other investment destinations look increasingly uncertain, India has emerged as a region of political stability and economic dynamism. The government is also taking advantage of the mood by presenting its reformist decisions and the rise of unicorns to world leaders.
India’s strategy at Davos in 2022 is very different from previous years. The Indian delegation led by Trade and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal is making additional efforts to improve internal coordination. Before the start of the conference, Goyal invited all delegates to share their views on India’s positioning. Then, on the first evening, he organized another meeting with business leaders, young entrepreneurs and government officials. The meeting of more than an hour ended at 11 p.m. Feedback has been incorporated and a dedicated India microsite has been created as a resource hub.
The government is keen for the delegation to speak with one voice when discussing with various global investors. The aim is to continuously monitor the perception of India and counter questions with facts.
Goyal’s team at the ministry, Invest India officials and senior Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) officials are coordinating with state governments to craft a common response on several issues. The ministry is sharing briefing notes with all delegates on issues such as India’s stance on Ukraine, gas procurement, wheat exports and PLI schemes. The latest trade and investment figures are made available so that there is minimal confusion over the numbers.
Ministers from several state governments including Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are in Davos to meet with global investors. While the spirit of competition remains healthy, all states will highlight the recent steps taken by the government to promote investment both nationally and regionally.
This has become particularly important at a time when the war in Ukraine is weighing heavily on Europe. Industry and government leaders believe that India must present itself as a stable, reformist and growing economy. Global investors are concerned about the continued impact of the war in Ukraine on the United States and Europe. China’s story does not look promising since the mistreatment of its legendary entrepreneurs like Jack Ma. Meanwhile, the debt crisis triggered in several countries by Chinese economic diplomacy has scared investors.
India, on the other hand, is expected to grow above 8%, according to estimates. The rise in FDI and investment further reinforces the positive sentiment in the economy.
The Indian delegation includes several former leaders such as Sunil Mittal, Hari Bhartia, Anish Shah, MD & CEO Mahindra & Mahindra, Sanjiv Bajaj, Sumant Sinha, Adar Poonawala and Pawan Munjal. They rub shoulders with young unicorn founders like Nikhil Kamath from Zerodha, Prashant Pitti from Easemytrip; Ashish Singhal from Coinswitch and Vidit Atrey from Meesho. This is the first outing to Davos for many young entrepreneurs. The government proudly references the rise of unicorns in India and the founders are pleasantly surprised by the attention they are receiving from delegates from India and other countries.
Business leaders are urging the government to be aggressive in promoting them as a region of economic dynamism as the rest of the world grapples with uncertainty. They say now is the right time for India to articulate its strengths with a loud voice.