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India Economic Summit To Strengthen India’s Role In Region

On the eve of the two-day India Economic Summit at the capital, Anil Menon, Managing Director, Head of Centre for Global Industries, World Economic Forum shares the mission, its agenda and some details into what makes WEF relevant and happening

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The World Economic Forum (WEF) has been working closely with Indian companies and the Indian government for 35 years. On the eve of the two-day India Economic Summit at the capital, Anil Menon, Managing Director, Head of Centre for Global Industries, World Economic Forum shares the mission, its agenda and some details into what makes WEF relevant and happening with Ashish Sinha.

Edited Excerpts

What is your outlook for the meeting?
The India Economic Summit is one of our oldest and longest standing gatherings to convene leaders and experts to discuss issues of importance.

My expectations from this Summit and those in the future is that it becomes a pre-eminent platform for the region and one where global leaders come together for an indispensable annual gathering to showcase how India is transforming itself and the world around it. The Summit should also highlight India’s role, not just as an investment opportunity, but as a growing geo-economic and geopolitical power. 

I think we have made tremendous progress towards this vision as this Summit includes:

•            Official partnership with the Government of India through the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, in addition to our existing partner CII

•            Record levels of participation of Public Figures from India and beyond (45 compared to 17 at IES17)

•            7 states representing all corners of India will be present at the India

•            Programmatic focus on South Asia and ASEAN to promote greater cooperation to globalize the meeting beyond India and South Asia

Why was the theme chosen? 
One of the inspirations for this theme came from Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the launch of our Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution India – ‘Solve for India, Solve for the World’. South Asia is at a turning point as its economies are beginning to avail the benefits and competitiveness dividends of structural reforms and public investments of the past two decades. Expected to be home to over a quarter of the world’s working adults by 2030, South Asia has the eyes of the world turned towards the region. Underpinned by strong domestic demand, private consumption and investment, a growth projection of 7% speaks of the South Asia’s resilience and strength to not only weather the global slowdown but also contribute to propelling global growth forward. 

With its geographic and demographic size and extensive diversity, India has a unique opportunity to shape global agendas and establish itself as a role model and an inspiration for the world through its response to opportunities in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, casting a resounding impact on our collective future. India can tap its own sphere of influence and emerge as a global leader by providing the world with replicable and scalable models for solutions to critical global challenges, affecting billions of people.

How do you think that India can play a major role in strengthening South Asia?
South Asia accounts for over 21 per cent of the world’s population and the countries share common heritage, history, linguistic, cultural and social practices. Yet, intra-regional trade among South Asian countries is less than 5% of their overall trade and the intra-regional FDI is under 4%, making it the least economically integrated region in the world. A stronger regional collaboration may no longer be an option for South Asia. As the largest country in the region, both by the size of the population and economy, India does have an important role to play in strengthening South Asia and ensuring it ‘Takes Everyone Along’. In this regard, India’s ‘Neighbour First’ policy is a strong indication of the country’s intent in doing so. Such a policy is most critically important for the region’s infrastructure development and connectivity. 

Once India arms itself with modern infrastructure, social services, and connectivity becoming of a developed economy, it has the responsibility to assist its neighbours in doing so too.

India can tap its own sphere of influence and emerge as a global leader by providing the world with replicable and scalable models for solutions to critical global challenges.

What is the role of WEF in India?
The World Economic Forum has been working closely with companies and the government for 35 years. The Forum’s South Asia regional community is committed to tackling challenges and ensuring the region’s long-term growth by strengthening multi-stakeholder dialogue and public-private partnerships. In addition, the Forum will launch its Regional Stewardship Board, its highest consultative body for the region, bringing together a small group of notable leaders from government, the private sector, academia and the media to support and advise the Forum on its agenda for the region at the Summit.


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