100-strong Indian delegation at Davos

A highlight of the meet will be a campaign called 'India Everywhere'.

india Updated: Jan 24, 2006 14:17 IST

The high-wire annual summit of the World Economic Forum (WEF) begins on Wednesday in the Alpine settings of Davos with the Indian delegation consisting of a record over 100 members, including top ministers, state chief ministers and corporate honchos.

A highlight of the five-day conclave will be the unveiling of an 'India Everywhere' campaign - comprising a cultural extravaganza, a grand soiree, and an opportunity for the delegates to experience the best of Indian music, cuisine and the arts.

Some special themes and sessions include "Emergence of China and India," "China and India's Rising Demand for Natural Resources,' 'Indian-US Partnership' and 'India and the World: Scenario to 2025,'

In keeping with the focus on India, along with China, at the WEF, the tourism ministry will host in select hotels an 'India Hour' that will allow the 2,300 participants from the world over to flavour complimentary Indian food and spirits every evening.

"Every chief executive needs to grasp the forces that are shaping the world," said YC Deveshwar, president of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), which is the India partner of the Davos-based WEF.

"The Davos meeting is a quick way of engaging with the world community and all its diversities. You can bring home valuable lessons. It will also help you to benchmark yourself against your peers globally," he said.

The Indian government is being represented by Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Commerce Minister Kamal Nath, Finance Minister P. Chidambaram and Tourism Minister Renuka Chowdhury.

Besides a host of corporate heads like Mukesh Ambani of Reliance, Rahul Bajaj of Bajaj Auto and Nandan Nilekani of Infosys, there will be representatives of states, including Chief Ministers Sheila Dikshit of Delhi, Vasundhara Raje of Rajasthan and Oommen Chandy of Kerala.

"I think that Davos today is widely recognised as the forum for global leaders to exchange ideas," Nilekani said. "As India becomes increasingly prominent in the global economic context, the World Economic Forum is the ideal place for us to project ourselves."

The emergence and India and China in the shift of gravity to this part of the globe and some of the challenges and opportunities for the world community in addressing them is among the sub-themes of this year's annual meetings.

According to a CII official, the main focus of their campaign at Davos will be to showcase the country as the "fastest growing free market democracy" and as many as 60 sessions have been planned featuring speakers from India.

"It is for the first time a high-power partnership has been formed to represent India at this forum - senior representatives from the government, both central and states', as well as key business leaders from different sectors," he said.

The meeting is also expected to give an opportunity to Kamal Nath to interact with some 20 trade ministers and continue the dialogue following the ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation in December in Hong Kong.

The forum has also decided to honour Shabana Azmi, the renowned film actress and social activist with the Crystal Award for her contribution towards reaching out successfully to other cultures through her art. Other awardees include actor-director Michael Douglas and Brazilian Culture Minister Gilberto Gil.

The annual conclave, now in its 35th year, hopes to go strong despite criticism from some members of civil society that it is an elite club of corporate and government bigwigs with little for the average global citizen.

First Published: Jan 24, 2006 12:27 IST