A pilgrim’s journey
It is that time of the year again. Officially, the show doesn’t begin till 23 January, but delegates are already arriving for the 48th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF). Personally, I have lost count, but on a rough hunch this must be the 30th conference I am attending. Had Ramesh Abhishek, secretary of the department of industrial policy and promotion, on the flight for company.
Landed in Zurich and hit by the cold blast, from the benign 19 degrees Celsius in Delhi to minus 4 degrees! Worse, it is snowing heavily and we have been forced to stop and install snow-chains on the wheels.
Reached my destination; this time an apartment opposite the Belvedere hotel—a landmark of Davos.
Looking back at my first visit to this much sought after global watering hole. That was a time when there was no cellphone, no WhatsApp, no Facebook, no Instagram… nada, nothing. It also was a much smaller gathering, guess about 1,000 people.
Now it may seem quaint, but all the participants were then given a pigeon box to drop and receive handwritten notes. Obviously, networking was so much more personal.
This year, the registrations are a staggering 3,000. To this add the support staff that ensure a smooth four days and we are talking about 8,000-odd extra people in this town with a total population of 11,000. What is the phrase again? Bursting at the seams, as it were.
Boring? Of course not
Time and again I get asked: Aren’t you sick of going to Davos year after year? And my constant response: No!
It is a great way to start your year. Listening to some of the finest minds, rubbing shoulders with global celebrities in a completely relaxed environment (no ties). And the organizers—a salute to them—think of everything (including catering to special things to do for spouses); they are also willing to listen (so take those feedback forms seriously, trust the WEF to implement the suggestions next year).
For the first time in the history of the WEF, an Indian prime minister will launch the proceedings. It is a real big deal. The prime minister, despite juggling a busy schedule, will be here from tomorrow evening.
Understandably, there is a big reception planned for tomorrow night to be hosted by the Indian government. (It will, of course, replace the annual dinner hosted by the WEF for all desis in the house.) Expect heavy attendance; besides the Indian cuisine on offer, invitees will also be exposed to yoga—India’s hottest export. And a little bird tells me that the prime minister will be there too. Watch this space, as they say.
Ajay Khanna is chief, strategic and public affairs, Jubilant Bhartia group, and vice -chair, WEF regional strategy group for South Asia. Views are personal.
The promoters of HT Media Ltd, which publishes Mint, and Jubilant Bhartia group are closely related. There are, however, no promoter cross-holdings.