What began 50 years ago as an idea to bring together political and business leaders to discuss global opportunities and challenges still remains the meeting ground of the powerful, the rich and the influential. The World Economic Forum was set up with an endowment of 25,000 Swiss francs and Davos was chosen to play host to the forum’s first meeting.
In 1987, the European Management Forum was rechristened the World Economic Forum in keeping with Its aspiration to play a pivotal role in shaping the global narrative.
Davos, has been witness to many changes in the global political and economic order. It would be fair to say, it has played a crucial role in pushing for free trade, multilateralism and conflict resolution. The founder of the World Economic Forum, professor Klaus Schwab, has been one the strongest advocates of “stakeholder capitalism” taking on the entrenched idea of maximising profits for shareholders.
While “Davos Diplomacy” has had it share of successes, the big shifts caused by technology, disillusionment with economic policy and the new geopolitical world order, have made the “Davos Consensus” perhaps less relevant today.
The pillars of globalisation and multilateralism, both crucial to the Davos Dialogue, face resistance and growing suspicion. Even the idea of stakeholder capitalism, though very relevant in a world where income inequality is getting worse, seems like a hollow promise. While there are reservations and concerns, despondency will have to be set aside for the coming week, as the Davos Dialogues begin.
This year, the Forum will try to cover issues that the world is anxious about—from climate change to the tech lash, the debt crisis to new geopolitical fissures, all under the overarching theme of “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World".
The headliner this year is the young, vocal climate activist Greta Thunberg, making her second appearance. US President Donald Trump, will attend this year, after a no show last year because of the US government shutdown.
Team India is being lead by commerce and railways minister Piyush Goyal. Davos veteran Kamal Nath will makes his second appearance as the chief minister of Madhya Pradesh. The chief minister of Karnataka BS Yediyurappa and KT Ramamarao, industry minister of Telangana will be there.
Former Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu, a regular at Davos, with one of the largest state contingents will be missed. The new state CM YS Jaganmohan Reddy has given the event a pass.
India Inc will be represented by the usual Davos crowd with Mukesh Ambani, Sunil Mittal, Anand Mahindra, Kumar Birla, and N Chandrasekaran among the attendees.
Microsoft’s global CEO Satya Nadella will join the Tata sons chief to talk about the technology as an enabler to bride access deficits, the running theme of Chandrasekaran’s book Bridgital Nation. Deepika Padukone, will make her Davos debut to help mainstream the conversation around mental health.CNBC-TV18 will be fronting several session including a session in association with the World Economic Forum, with commerce minister Piyush Goyal and others. Also, watch out for a high powered CEO panel on India as an investment and innovation destination, a dialogue on India’s readiness for industry 4.0, a session on sustainable business practices with a sharp focus on addressing the water challenge and a long list of interviews.