Lok Sabha TV- Public Forum: World Economic Forum 2017
World Economic Forum annual meeting began at Davos with the call for the Governments to be responsive and responsible in the backdrop of falling trust in all kinds of institutions and uncertain global economy. The global economy faces an array of risks from natural disasters related to climate change to increasingly sophisticated cyber attack. This is the first time that an environmental concern has topped the list of WEF’s Report. Economic issues remained high on the list of concerns too including the scale of slowdown in China, high unemployment levels in many countries and the impact of low oil prices on the budgets of oil exporters. Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi’s Start Up India also caught the attention of the world. India was the key topic at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2017. The Start Up India has not only affected a start up boom in the country but also made India world’s third largest hotspot for new technology and businesses in a short span of time.
There is a significance of events like this because in United Nations, there are Governments talking to each other but here in addition to Governments, there are businesses and other stakeholders in the society who also share their ideas and a new perspective is there to an issue. For example; in Davos this year, the underlying thrust was that in addition to discussing the features of globalization, there were also discussions on logic of globalization that is how it has put an impact on the world. There was Chinese Premier talking about global free trade. 80% of the people of US and Europe have seen their incomes stagnate over the last 20 years as per statistics and incomes in India and China have doubled or tripled.
The theme of this year’s meeting was Responsive and Responsible Leadership. There is a high level of anxiety in the west but in the east and countries of South East Asia, there is optimism for the market situation. Asia is supposed to have 2/3rd of global GDP by 2030. The West has to adjust to this shift. India is at the forefront of this shift in many ways. India is moving very fast towards digital economy. With demonetization and the digital economy that is being pushed by the Government at this point of time, India is expected to have a digital society sooner than the West.
There was a clear importance given to those issues which have to be dealt in an integrated manner like Brexit or new US President and his policies, migration issues, conflicts in global landscape that are having roots in social and economic spheres etc. There are reactions and responses because the centre of economic activity is shifting to Asia. Europe and North America are not in a position today to act as an engine of economic growth and development at the global level. Production, manufacturing, trade and investment are far better organized at the global level than in the past. This signifies interdependence of countries on each other.
On one hand, United Kingdom is disintegrating from Europe and on the other hand, it wants to interact on an individual basis with the rest of the world. Such a policy can be followed but given the global supply chain, interdependence, capital, technology, skills and resources can hinder it. After 1950s, the system of global rules that were created enabled the G-7 to set the global agenda. That was the time when European nations had 50% of global GDP. But now the situation is different as Asia is becoming the centre of economic activities.
In case of climate change, US does not seem to be much serious but India and China are taking this issue seriously and making serious efforts towards it as well. These two countries are trying to set up their own models rather than following the West.
However, India faces different challenges than the West which is inequality and poverty and without addressing them, no development can actually make any sense. The entire issue of inclusiveness is relevant both at national and international level in terms of negotiations, decision making, fair share in terms of agenda setting and outcomes at the international level. This is the reason why G-7 has shifted to G-20. This is not the time to work in silos and protectionism. The developed nations have to work with emerging economies together. Inclusiveness also mean that population should have faith in its Government. This is evident from the fact that despite demonetization came with its problems, people supported it in India. West is facing some issues. The election of Mr. Trump clearly shows that the middle class which is a large section of the population rejected the old notions. One has to see the global economy as a source that helps to solve the problem of job creation both in developed and developing nations as this will be beneficial not only economically but socially as well.
These forums are not losing their relevance but are also not delivering to the extent they should. In the last few years, the issues have not only remained same but the new issues like terrorism and climate change have compounded the global economic landscape. Therefore, while it is welcome to hold such events at the highest level, the outcomes of these meetings should also be manifested and more result oriented.