WEF meet draws to a close; India story generates huge interest

Davos: The five-day annual talk-fest of WEF ended today amid huge interest and high level of optimism about India, even as the mood about global economy remained largely pessimistic and concerns over terror attacks hogged the limelight.

The sudden death of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz on Friday cast a pall of gloom over the last two days of the event, with many participants including government heads from that region pulling out of the summit early.

On the economic front, the surprise stimulus by European Central Bank on Thursday took many by surprise here at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting, which leaders from across the world described as a much-needed breather for the struggling global economy.

India, however, emerged as one of the bright spots in an otherwise sluggish global economic outlook, while the country’s political and business leadership put up a strong show after a gap of two years.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley presented the country’s growth story amid a new political scenario back home. Two chief ministers N Chandrababu Naidu and Devendra Fadnavis made strong pitches for their respective states — Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra — among global investors.

With packed schedules spread over three days, Jaitley met a number of new and potential investors, as also government representatives from different countries to discuss various opportunities for cooperation.

Jaitley also met his Swiss counterpart Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf and discussed about cooperation in dealing with the menace of black money suspected to be stashed in Swiss banks, among other matters.

Naidu and Fadnavis too had packed schedules with number of bilateral meetings, while Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal, Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian and DIPP Secretary Amitabh Kant also impressed upon the participants about India’s growth potential.

A host of other issues ranging from climate change to gender parity to digital economy to slump in oil prices were also discussed at length during the five-day annual jamboree of rich and powerful.

Closing the summit on a personal note, World Bank chief Jim Yong Kim said: “I would want to work on a system for early detection of pandemics and natural disasters.”

This year’s WEF meet had the theme of ‘The New Global Context’.