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Davos 2019: From hot cups of tea to billboards and lounges: India makes a mark on Davos landscape sans leaders
January 22, 2019
Davos 2019: From hot cups of tea to billboards and lounges: India makes a mark on Davos landscape sans leaders

Indian leaders may be missing but India still is a toast of this snow-laden ski resort town buzzing with the global elite who have congregated for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

While Tata Tea is offering free cups to tea to passers-by, group firm TCS proudly declares itself as one furthering digital skills and helping businesses with technology solutions.

Telangana is welcoming investors to India by making the state their first stop in the country, while Andhra Pradesh is projecting itself as the sunrise state and future-ready.

Despite its chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu pulling out from the Davos trip, Andhra Pradesh has expanded the space it takes every year for setting up a lounge at the spot earlier used for the Make in India lounge, and before that 'India Adda', known for Indian food and beverages.

There is no Adda this time, but India Invest has set up India Investment Centre, even as finance minister Arun Jaitley and petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan have dropped out and so has Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.

There is no clarity as yet on the participation of commerce minister Suresh Prabhu, while some regulars among Indian CEOs may also give the summit a miss this year.

So is the case for some other countries, with top leaders from the US, UK, France and Russia not attending the meet this year.

Hotels are, however, not complaining despite last minute cancellations as they had long waiting lists. In fact, since cancellations at the last minute do not involve any refund, it is a case of the same room fetching booking amount twice.

Locals say it's business as usual in the city, once known for health tourism, always frequented by skiing enthusiasts and home to the annual week-long pow-wow of the rich and powerful of the world in sub-zero temperatures for five decades now.

For now, Davos teems with huge billboards atop buildings and even on buses, promoting India and Indian companies, while the narrow roads made even narrower by heavy snowfall are packed with lounges set up by the private and public sector from the country where Indian delicacies are flying off the counters.

Flush with nearly three-times its usual population, this Swiss resort town is teeming with black business suits for the annual WEF gathering, but it still cannot deter the skiing enthusiasts and those coming for medical tourism.

The event has also brought thousands of army, police and other security personnel from across Switzerland and some neighbouring countries as well to secure the summit being attended by several heads of state and government.

Davos has a much older and fascinating history of its own, being a place of eminence for medical tourism as also winter sports.

Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the famous detective character Sherlock Holmes, moved to this town along with his ailing wife that reportedly helped her regain her health.

Once famous for being a summer health resort, Davos has gradually emerged as a major winter sport hub on the Alps, but its biggest claim to fame for the past almost five decades has been the World Economic Forum's annual meeting every January, beginning 1971.

The only drawback for tourists is that they cannot stay within the town, which has less than 10 medium-sized hotels and about 40 small ones, including in nearby areas like Klosters and Dorf.

Besides, the so-called WAGs (wives and girlfriends) of those attending the WEF meet are also around in large numbers on ski circuits and at various tourist destinations of the town that comprises two big parallel roads and numerous connecting alleys.