Davos, a small Alpine village was put on the world map years ago by a man called Klaus Schwab. Schwab believed it was imperative for business leaders, political leaders and leaders of civil society to sit across the table and examine global issues that would impact each of their verticals.
For many, Davos is about networking just as for many a literature festival is about food. But that was never the intent Schwab had nor was it his vision. He believed that the world needed to grapple with issues that at times did not concern many who were running businesses for profit and credit must be given to Schwab and the World Economic Forum that he thought of this tri-partite world much before CSR was mandated or the fear of NGOs had become a harsh reality in the world of global business.
In a world that is today scarred by the inherent inequality that exists or for that matter by the heady power that Big Business enjoys it was becoming even more crucial for leaders across these verticals to think (and then act) on creating a global order that was built of fair-play and justice. It was important for Big Business to be doing business with compassion and not profit as the only motive. Likewise, it was critical for the NGO universe to understand that development without profit was not achievable. Today, we are seeing a World Economic Forum that is even more aware of the enormous responsibility it shoulders and the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum at Davos every January is not about meeting people but about meeting the challenges that many issues have thrown up in recent times.
From international security to research in oncology to Dialogues in the Dark to creating a more just and sustainable world are only some of the issues that we shall all contend with in this week at Davos. For me personally, what is fascinating is the cerebral content that this five-day event throws up. It is not about the people you meet but the minds that you engage with in an atmosphere which almost makes you captive to the vagaries of the weather. You could be listening to Nawaz Sharif unveil his strategy for the Region over a Pakistani Lunch or listen to the challenges of the Sochi Winter Olympics by Mukhtar Kent of Coca Cola or for that matter enjoy the spirited bonhomie at CII’s Bollywood Night or for that matter savour Alpine confectioneries with some of the brightest and the best at the McKinsey nightcap. It is ultimately about how open you are to absorbing what’s on offer. There is a very interesting (and very small) round-table that I am looking forward to which has Tony Blair, Bill Gates and Mohamed Yunus talking about the whole concept of giving back and what this will mean for a more equitable world.
Yes, Davos will be a far cry from the mess that our country seems to be perpetually in. We shall be far away from Arvind Kejriwal’s weekly theatrical act or for that matter the continuous sound and fury of Prime Ministerial aspirants. What I will be keen to see is Chidambaram’s defence of this Government’s handling of the economy when festering wounds remain.
So while I enjoy the climate and the cerebral content of Davos you can keep yourself enthralled with the antics of our politicos and of course those who believe a protest-a-week is the best way of governance.