Every year in Davos, Switzerland, world leaders in business, politics and civil society gather to discuss the most pressing issues and opportunities facing the world. At least that is what the annual ritual of the Davos meet proposes to do.
Like every year, we could not help but wonder about the purpose of this meet. The slogan of this World Economic Forum at Davos is Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World. This is very Utopian as it means zero corruption, fair taxation and respect for human rights. Sounds like all tall talk, isn’t it? This Swiss town is taken over by some 3000 VVIPs, not to count the and security and et al. Wonder what sustainability they are talking about?
The Davos has really not been able to do much – with so many world leaders coming on one stage, have they ever been able to predict or even prevent any financial crisis?
But it is what it is. The United Nations does not do much to prevent wars and human atrocities, yet it exists. That’s how it is with Davos too. The fact that it is gets such powerful people in one place at one time is what puts it in the news – the power of the guest list and not as much the agenda.
This time, the marquee speaker is Trump. Modi is not going this time but the Indian contingency will be led by Piyush Goyal. A total of 119 billionaires are attending this meet of which 19 come from India, the usual suspects – Adani, Ambani, Piramal, , Rahul and Sanjiv Bajaj, Kumar Mangalam Birla, N Chandrasekaran of TCS, Uday Kotak, Rajnish Kumar of SBI, Anand Mahindra, Sunil and Rajan Mittal, Ravi Ruia, Pawan Munjal, Nandan Nilekani and Salil Parekh of Infosys, C Vijayakumar of HCL Tech, Ajay Piramal, Rishad Premji, Ajay Singh and Pirojsha Godrej.
The Indian ‘soft power’ will also be on full display – Deepika Padukone will talk about health and other issues while Jaggi Vasudev or Sadhguru will hold meditation sessions for all every morning.
Other attendees are:
Imran Khan, Angela Merkel, Britain’s Prince Charles, Afghanistan’s Ashraf Ghani. Finland’s and world’s youngest PM - Sanna Marin, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission; Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank (ECB); Greta Thunberg, Ren Zhengfei, CEO of Huawei; Kristalina Georgieva, managing director of the IMF; Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury; billionaire investor George Soros; Vice-Premier of the People's Republic of China; Giuseppe Conte, Prime Minister of Italy; Simonetta Sommaruga, President of the Swiss Confederation; Sebastian Kurz, Federal Chancellor of Austria and Ivan Duque, President of Colombia and many other world leaders.
It would not be wrong to say that it is these very elitists at Davos, who failed to anticipate and maybe created the current anti-establishment movement all across the globe. Yes, the discussions and debates at Davos are intellectually stimulating but they remain that – mere discussions and theories whom the larger section of the world population views as “those out of touch with reality and with no inkling of the economic challenges which the masses actually face.”
One thing does happen though – huge business and political deals happen behind closed doors there; maybe some collateral benefits do accrue after all!