Did Indian Govt sponsor session at Davos?

Was Prime Minister Narendra Modi invited to address the World Economic Forum at Davos on the condition that the Indian Government must sponsor the 48th session?

Photo courtesy: Twitter
Photo courtesy: Twitter

NH Political Bureau

Did the Government of India sponsor the 48th session of the World Economic Forum at Davos? A Tweet to this effect claiming that it was on this condition that Prime Minister Narendra Modi was invited to address the inaugural session has triggered both surprise and outrage.

Senior Congress leader Shakeel Ahmed in a Twitter reply wondered if this was the reason why former prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh never agreed to attend the private NGO’s meeting at Davos despite being invited five times :

“Was this the reason for which Dr Manmohan Singh decline to visit Davos to address World Economic Forum 5 times, despite repeated invitation?”

Prime Minister Modi became the first Indian Prime Minister to attend the WEF at Davos after Prime Minister Deve Gowda in the late nineties. The US President Donald Trump also attended the WEF this year and became the first US President since Clinton to attend it.

While there is no official confirmation yet on whether the Government of India did spend taxpayers’ money to facilitate what is often described as a talking shop for the rich, the demand for a statement from the Government is bound to grow ahead of the Union Budget scheduled to be presented next week.

While Prime Minister Modi invited the world to invest in India and made a passionate pitch for globalisation, in sync with his open-arms policy towards big corporations and multinationals, there are other disturbing signals coming out of Davos that would concern Indians.

Those who remember the red carpet welcome given by the Modi Government to Google and Facebook and Prime Minister Modi’s visit to the two tech giants’ headquarters in the US, will find the following part of the speech delivered by international financier George Soros at Davos of particular interest :

“There could be an alliance between authoritarian states and these large, data-rich I.T. monopolies that would bring together nascent systems of corporate surveillance with an already developed system of state-sponsored surveillance. This may well result in a web of totalitarian control the likes of which not even Aldous Huxley or George Orwell could have imagined.”

Soros predicted that Russia and China were the two countries where “such unholy marriages are likely to occur first.” Chinese tech companies are “fully equal to the American ones,” and they “enjoy the full support and protection of the Xi Jinping regime.” Another disturbing possibility was that US tech companies would “compromise themselves in order to gain entrance to these vast and fast-growing markets. The dictatorial leaders in these countries may be only too happy to collaborate with them, since they want to improve their methods of control over their own populations and expand their power and influence in the United States and the rest of the world.”

Meanwhile, Indian media’s unquestioning coverage of the Prime Minister’s programme at Davos have also been receiving critical references. An Indian TV anchor interviewing the wife of Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Phadnavis at Davos and recording her singing lines from Hindi film songs came in for some scathing comments.

Senior columnist and journalist swati Chaturvedi tweeted :

‘Very amused that after prancing with Mrs Fadnavis in the snow, taking in Modi's utterly lacklustre speech with familiar tropes the Indian media contingent in #Davos can't still say it was a disaster. Zero international attention. Saving grace Rajan interview’

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