AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI
AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI

Davos : As leaders await to hear Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for India’s engagement with the world, Indian CEOs, on Monday, made a strong pitch for a statesman like position for the country to counter the protectionism and domestic rhetoric likely to be presented by countries like the US. Banker Uday Kotak, a Davos veteran who has been attending the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in this Swiss ski resort town for years, said India needs to understand the subtle difference between sales and marketing, and present the India story accordingly while positioning itself in the role of a statesman. Spicejet CEO Ajay Singh, who has himself steered a major turnaround in a sector like aviation, said India has a great story to tell at Davos and there can be no one better than Prime Minister Modi to tell this story. “When we saw Chinese premier Xi Jinping here last year, there was a lot of focus on China and it’s natural there would be a lot of focus on India this time,” Singh said. Singh said he and all other Indian CEOs are already seeing overflowing meeting requests and there is certainly a lot of interest in India this time. Banker Chanda Kochhar of ICICI Bank, who has also been regular there, said the Indian economy is seeing broad- based improvement across several sectors and is on track for a robust growth that can be tapped by one and all. Speaking to PTI, a number of Indian CEOs present there said the global community is waiting to hear from Modi and his speech is generating even more interest because the US president is also likely to table his America First pitch at the summit, about how he has lowered corporate tax rates and made American corporations bring back jobs and profits to the US. Modi will deliver the keynote speech at the plenary session of the WEF today. Before his departure from India, Modi had said he will share his vision for India’s future engagements with international community in Davos and will seek “serious attention” of world leaders on existing and emerging challenges to the contemporary global systems. “The existing and emerging challenges to the contemporary international system and global governance architecture deserve serious attention of leaders, governments, policy makers, corporates and civil societies around the world,” he tweeted. “I look forward to my first visit to the World Economic Forum at Davos, at the invitation of India’s good friend and Founder of the WEF, Professor Klaus Schwab,” he said, while describing the theme of the forum, ‘Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World’ as “both thoughtful and apt”. The comments assume significance as several leaders are expected to talk about various risks facing the world, including those from economic protectionism and differences between various world powers. The Summit is also being attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and UK Prime Minister Theresa May, among other leaders. More than 130 Indian CEOs are at the WEF this year.

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