The World Economic Forum has, for the first time, brought its own brand to India — the ‘World Economic Forum on India’, which started on November 6. In an interview with Bibhu Ranjan Mishra, S Gopalakrishnan, Executive Co-Chairman of Infosys, who is one of the six Co-Chairs of the three-day event, discusses that what it means for India and how Indian companies can take advantage of the exposure.
The India Economic Summit had been held in India for the past 27 years. This year it is known as the World Economic Forum on India. What is the significance of this change-over?
World Economic Forum runs events in selected countries and regions on their own platform. For example, they do it in the Middle East, in China and Latin America. India is the only place in the world where they have been organising this in partnership with industry body CII. However, they have now decided to do it on their own and organise the forum under their own brand. This testifies to the importance of India as a growing economic power in the global arena.
Does this indicate any fundamental changes in the event as we have known it for 27 years?
The difference this year will be the platform which will be provided by WEF. Otherwise, all the CII members will be there in the event. India wants to engage with the rest of the world and attract investments into the country; India also wants to showcase the opportunities that are available in the country. This is what the World Economic Forum platform will provide India.
What are the new elements that the WEF is bringing in?
The uniqueness of the WEF is that it is a multi-stakeholder platform. This is a global platform which will engage with various stakeholders starting from the industry to academia, non-government sector and government, from India as well as abroad. So, this is an opportunity for every industry in India to talk about the strengths, weakness and challenges in a global platform and also learn the global best practices from the global participants. This will help them engage in networking with global companies which may lead to new partnerships.
But the Indian economy is not doing well at the moment. Is this the right time to showcase India to the rest of the world?
The question about the growth of the Indian economy is relative. If you look at the macro level, challenges persist everywhere. Europe is hardly showing any growth. The US is growing at 3 per cent whereas we (India) are growing at 7 per cent, which is much better. The growth of the Indian economy is actually perceived as quite good when compared with many of the global economies. So, I don’t see any reason why we can’t talk about that. We need to do it continuously.
How, according to you, should India showcase itself to the rest of the world on the WEF platform?
Showcasing India to the world is an ongoing thing which will continue on every available platform. There are huge opportunities for investment in India in sectors such as infrastructure and manufacturing. The forum will have various tracks which will focus on all these. Personally, I feel this provides a great platform for various stakeholders in India to engage with their counterparts globally and learn the best practices from each other.