Notes from Davos: Adios Davos

Author - Ajay Khanna

Published By:The Economic Times
Posted on:May 27, 2022

Notes from Davos: Adios Davos

All good things come to an end. So did the first summer at Davos. But then this was a bonus; come winter and all of us will be back here again.

Even before the show was wound down officially, quite a few delegates had departed by Thursday morning. For the few of us who are still around the empty promenade and the deserted breakfast area is a reminder of the missing bustle.

Most lounges are shut, apart from the India Lounge. Not surprising, given that sections of the Indian delegation are still talking shop. Today morning , I saw Invest India CEO Deepak Bagla who was having a breakfast meeting.

Indian Hospitality

For the last three-year Marriott Hotel India has been tasked with catering for the home delegation at Davos. Sudhanshu Kumar Singh and Himanshu Taneja, along with a team of 16 chefs, provide catering all the India Lounges & at the cii India reception as well.

As they say the way to a person’s heart (and business) is through the stomach. It is estimated that about a fifth of the people who attended Davos this year turned up for a bite of Indian food, mixing business with pleasure.

A Tribute

On 25 May the Congress Centre hosted a tribute to Rahul Bajaj, an industry leader and the one credited with launching the middle-class dream with the iconic Chetak scooter in the 1970s.

A visibly emotional Prof Klaus Schwab, who led the tribute, very warmly recalled the contributions of Hamara Bajaj. At the end he presented a crystal offering to Sanjiv Bajaj as a token from the WEF family.

Parting Notes

Every year the India presence at Davos has grown. I caught up with some of the first timers to capture their thoughts.

Anurag Jain, secretary of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, was among those who were spreading the cheer on India. A central part of his message was to showcase to potential investors that the current ecosystem built on the India Tech stack together with a young demography and the potential of the Indian market was a perfect launchpad for start-ups. India, he argued, can provide sustainable, cost-effective solutions.

Ashish Singhal, Founder and CEO, CoinSwitch

“I have always believed that India has the potential to take the lead in the technological shift caused by Crypto. At Davos, I saw the early signs of this dream coming true. It wasn’t just a meeting point for policymakers and business leaders. Instead, it was about the imminent convergence of the new India story with the future of the Internet.”

Pranshu Singhal, Founder Karo Sambhav, Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2021 India

“It has been an exciting five days of meetings with many business leaders, political leaders, tech companies and most importantly my peers ‘the social innovators’. The urgency to act on climate issues, adapt circular practices at scale, monitor and report performance using harmonised ESG metrics was pervasive in all sessions.

I had a good conversation on the Circular Economy with the Nobel laureate Prof Joseph Stiglitz who happened to be seated next to me in the Central Lounge.

This was an action conference. I leave Davos with renewed energy and enthusiasm to drive adoption of circular practices at a grassroot level.”

Vaishali Nigam Sinha, Chair ReNew Foundation, CSO, ReNew Power

“Davos 2022 came against a tough backdrop of the still lingering Covid pandemic, new public health scares, the tragic war in Ukraine, inflation worries, continued supply chain disruptions, and unstable markets. There was much to discuss and debate and it was good to see ESG and sustainability remain a key theme, concern, and focus for many of the sessions and key participants.

Another great aspect of this WEF was how India and some of its key states and companies were visible in terms of presence and focused efforts to show a clear reality: India is open and ready for business with the world like never before.

Final Thoughts

Prof Klaus Schwab
“What an incredible week we spent together in Davos! I am confident that the wish I expressed at the beginning of the meeting for all of us has been fulfilled. We go home with new friendships, new partnerships, new ideas, and most importantly – with the conviction that a community really committed to constructive work can have a true impact, even in a world which is in such disarray and facing so many challenges.''

The Last Supper

The last event was the farewell lunch hosted by the WEF on the slopes of the Schatz alp hotel. With the sun out in full glory and an unrestricted view of mountains and valley, the gathering was a perfect way to sign off. We were joined by the Mayor of Davos Philipp Wilhelm, who by the way is only 31 years old!

Bye for now till we meet again next January.

The writer is with Jubilant Bhartia Group and is a Co-founder of Pafi.