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Modi puts ‘India power’ on show at Davos meet

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 27, 2018 Published on January 23, 2018

Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing the plenary session of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday   -  Reuters

Prime Minister flags risks to global economy from protectionism, climate change, terrorism

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday used his keynote speech at the Plenary Session of the World Economic Forum in Davos to showcase the role that India is set to play in the global economy.

Speaking in Hindi, Modi made a forceful impact on the global power elite as he addressed three major challenges that mankind faces: Climate Change, Terrorism and Protectionism.

Highlighting India’s growing influence in the global economy, Modi recalled that in 1997, when an Indian Prime Minister last attended the WEF, the country’s GDP was a bit over $400 billion. “Two decades later, the country’s GDP has multiplied over six times,” he said.

“In 1997, the Euro was not circulating as a currency, there was no whiff of the Asian financial crisis nor was there any possibility of a Brexit. In 1997, very few people had heard of Osama Bin Laden, and Harry Potter was not a recognisable figure,” he added.

Without taking names, but evidently invoking the US under President Donald Trump, Modi took a a jibe at the protectionist approach of major economies, which , he said, hurts the essence of globalisation.

“More countries are becoming self-centred. As protectionism is rising, the sheen of globalisation is fading away. These protectionist powers intend to not just move away from globalisation, but to also reverse the course of the world economy,” he said.

Tariff barriers

These protectionist measures were giving rise to new kinds of tariff and non-tariff barriers. “The signing of new bilateral and multilateral trade agreements appears to have come to a standstill. There has been a dip in cross-border economic investments and the growth global supply chains has also come to a standstill,” he said.

On climate change, Modi said there is a dearth of countries willing to assist in helping fellow nations tackle climate change. “Everyone wants to cut carbon emissions, but how many countries are coming forward to share technologies with developing countries?” he wondered.

Modi also expressed concern over the changing nature of terrorism. “More than terrorism, the bigger concern is the artificial divide created between good and bad terrorism. The more pressing and immediate issue that calls for our attention is the radicalisation of well-to-do and educated youth,” he said.

Curiously, Modi’s speech left his social media critics almost muted. The only criticism came from Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, who tweeted, “Dear PM, Welcome to Switzerland! Please tell Davos why 1 per cent of India’s population gets 73 per cent of its wealth?”

Published on January 23, 2018
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