Another year, not another Davos!
It was my sixth year at the sleepy skiing Swiss town, the hallowed grounds for the world’s intelligentsia.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) witnesses the annual gathering, fast becoming the Mecca for the world’s elite. I always think that Davos will be business as usual, but it always surprises me to see the multi-dimensional range of discussions and vast insight at the end of the four-day pilgrimage.
The backdrop to Davos was certainly not encouraging. The annual survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers indicated that business leaders showed a less bullish mood than a year ago.
Last year, 44 per cent of chief executives surveyed were optimistic about improving global growth, but the optimism has fallen to 37 per cent for 2015. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had just downgraded its forecasts of world growth. Other pressing issues looming over the discussions at Davos included tumbling oil prices, economic slowdown in China, terrorist attacks in Paris and the fragile European Union.
Yet as you enter the citadel of global knowledge, the Congress Centre, you see global thought leaders discussing reasons to be hopeful for the year ahead.
The theme at Davos 2015 addressed the world’s current state of flux – The New Global Context. As I rushed from one session to another, I sensed the air of optimism about 2015. Be it addressing the growing income inequality or tackling climate issues, it was encouraging to see the proverbial silver lining in an ominous clouded environment.
Against the backdrop of the Greece election, the concern around Europe’s growth and political stability was clearly a major discussion agenda for all. Also, the India theme was very visible as the country’s finance minister, Arun Jaitley, spoke about how the new leadership change in India is transforming the business, political and social landscape there.
Of course, being part of the automotive industry, it was interesting to talk about automotive pollution, CO2 emissions and self-driving vehicles.
Between sessions, I also learned that the internet will disappear into the background as it become all pervasive, the opportunities and threats facing renewable energy resources due to the plummeting prices of oil and how companies are transforming their business models in face of industry disruptions.
I can’t help but conclude that the annual conference of global thought leaders is an ideal model where educated people show a commonality of purpose to change the world. Irrespective of social, economic and regional background, I see missio-nary zeal in people to raise and deliberate on the issues impacting the world.
For me, Davos is where the future is being discussed today.
Neeraj Kanwar is vice-chairman and MD of Apollo Tyres