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Socially Responsible At Davos

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The annual gathering at Davos has always maintained an element of concern for society even as heads of state and CEOs share ideas and plan projects.

This year though there is an almost constant reference to social concerns. IMF President Christine Lagarde began her address with a reference to Yousufzai Malala and the New Delhi rape victim.

The Crystal awards given by the forum to outstanding work done by individuals across the world went to three people who are deeply engaged with social causes. South Africa's Hollywood star Charlize Theron was recognised for work on HIV while Sharmeen Obaid-Chenoy from Pakistan was hailed for her work to prevent and criminalise acid attacks on women.

The chairs of the summit including JP Morgans Jamie Dimon, Cokes Muhtar Kent emphasised the need for inclusive growth. This was a subject that had been the exclusive reserve of government and NGOs. Social entrepreneurs are here in great numbers, outshining some global CEOs.

The World Economic Forum actually published a report on the future role of civil society. This is pretty remarkable since, most of the growth intiatives have emerged from global corporations. But in the wake  of civil society uprising across even democracies, business leaders realise that a cosy relationship with government will not assure their goals. Hester accountability being demanded by citizens will force companies to do business differently now.

Read: The Corporate Kumbh

Increasing the level of trust in governments, businesses and international organisations is now a priority for world leaders.

For the Indian delegation, it has been business as usual. This time the India Adda hosted an evening to celebrate India Africa relations. Ministers Kamal Nath, Anand Sharma, Praful Patel are doing the usual networking but with more confidence to face the world. With improved decision on economic policy, they trying to revive the buzz around India.

Rahul Bajaj, Anand Mahindra, TCS and Infosys hosted their annual dinners where the global and Indian CEOS met and chatted like an old school club.

Many delegates are fascinated with an interesting new trend in Davos. the World Economic Forum is organising meditation  for all delegates in the morning before the sessions begin. Some say that meditation may be the only way to be resilient to the current downturn.

(Pranjal Sharma is a senior business writer. He can be contacted at [email protected])