`Dream team' to push India campaign at global forum

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Preeti Mehra

Davos, Jan. 25

IT'S a picture postcard venue. While snow covers treetops, rooftops and sidewalks of Switzerland's little town of Davos, where the World Economic Forum opened on Wednesday, as many as 20,000 participants will warm up to debate threadbare the changing world economic order.

This year's theme `The Creative Imperative' has another meaning for India in a sense, as it has used creativity effectively to unleash an advertising blitz to make India's presence felt at the meet. A lot of the focus this year is on India and China, and India seems to have planned ahead for a change.

As you step out of Zurich airport, India is literary `everywhere,' with massive hoardings sporting a striking blue India graphic proclaiming its advancement as a free market economy. In fact, the delegates that you meet later at Davos seem to display instant recall of the campaign.

CII, which is the main organiser of the India presence, along with the India Brand Equity Foundation and the Ministry of Tourism, has headquartered itself at the Central Sport Hotel, where most of the India-specific press conferences are to take place.

The morning saw a dozen top CEOs of the country address the media, while outside temperatures were touching a chilling minus six. But for India, they said, things were heating up and if areas of concern such as hard infrastructure and labour policies are addressed, the momentum that exists in the country could translate to even 10 per cent growth rate.

Mr Nandan Nilekeni, CEO, President & MD, Infosys Technologies, who called the top India presence here as the `the dream team,' including the Finance Minister, the Commerce Minister, the Planning Commission Deputy Chairman and three Chief Ministers, spoke on the three legs of the India campaign at WEF.

Bharat Forge's Mr Baba Kalyani, ICICI's Mr K.V. Kamath, ITC's Mr Y.C. Deveshwar, Reliance's Mr Nikhil Meswani, Mr Jamshyd N. Godrej and Ranbaxy's Mr Malvinder Singh all expressed the hope that India the country whose time has come on the global map, needs to stay focussed and engage with the world effectively.

Interestingly, whenever the world media asks questions on India, China and how we view it is expressed in the same breath.

The top CEOs, in fact, addressed this with what seemed a new-found confidence on the India front.

While Mr Meswani chose to call it `Chindia' referring to the increasing collaboration between the two countries, Mr Singh spoke about how India had a significant advantage in the high value addition sphere, especially in terms of R&D.

On Tuesday night, PricewaterhouseCoopers also gave India, China and the other BRIC countries significant space in its 19th Global CEO Survey. It found that 71 per cent of the 1,410 CEOs surveyed said that they were planning to do business with at least one of the BRIC countries in the next three years.

While they viewed China as the most significant market opportunity (78 per cent), India followed with a close 64 per cent.

While this is only Day One, the India presence is only bound to increase as the meeting goes forward.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated January 26, 2006)
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