Being Modi in Trump's World

Tuesday 23rd January 2018 14:30 EST

The first Indian Prime Minister to address the World Economic Forum annual summit in Davos on two decades, Narendra Modi responded in a namaste as he took the stage to a resounding applause. In a world that collectively faces friction from US President Donald Trump, the beloved leader delivered a strong message against protectionism and inward-focused economic policies, pitching instead for a “heaven of freedom” that stands free from divisions. In his nearly-hour long speech given in Hindi, Modi talked about grave concerns, including terrorism and climate change.

Defending globalisation, Modi criticised Trump's policies without taking his name. 'Instead of globalisation, the power of protectionism is putting its head up,” Modi said. “Their wish is not only to save themselves from globalisation, but to change the natural flow of globalisation.” The leader quoted upanishads and shlokas in a speech that had leaders present grab their translators. “In fact,India has also believed in Samagrata or Purnata which is wholeness (ॐ पूर्णमदः पूर्णमिदं पूर्णात्पुर्णमुदच्यते पूर्णस्य पूर्णमादाय पूर्णमेवावशिष्यते ). It means that the universe and all its creation and beings are always complete in themselves. Because they represent the almighty who is always complete. For us the reality is one; only its descriptions are numerous. In terms of physical world also, ages ago, we echoed the same thing by saying Vasudhaiv Kutumbkam,” he said.

“I don’t want the windows of my house to be closed from all directions. I want the winds of cultures of all countries to enter my house with aplomb and go out also," Modi said.

Addressing the issue of terrorism, Modi called for unity against the extreme forces. “Because of our belief in co-existence of races and religions; and because of our belief in non-violence, we have always opposed terrorism. I say with full conviction that terrorism is bad in all its forms and facets. It is bad irrespective of its territory of origin or target of operation. We all must unite in fight against terrorism. India stands firmly with all such forces. I must also take the opportunity to appeal to all of you to see that such groups do not get money, arms and ammunition. It cannot be a good business to do business with such elements. We all know that, without peace, progress and prosperity is not possible.”

The statement came as an obvious hit at China who have consistently stood with their ally, Pakistan, despite the latter's open relations with extreme sources. Modi's keynote speech holds substantial significance considering he was once shunned by the West, even denied visa to the US. His speech only became more fiery with each line as he made a jibe against richer nations who either abdicated their responsibilities or were unwilling to lend poorer nations a hand. Addressing the issue of climate change, NaMo said, “We are not only aware of our responsibilities towards climate change; we are willing to take lead in mitigating its effects.”

“Glaciers are receding, the Arctic ice is melting, islands are going underwater or are about to. Heat and cold, excessive rain and drought: Effects of extreme weather are seen everywhere. Even here, we are seeing the highest snowfall in 20 years. We should have shed our divisions and united to tackle the challenge, but we must ask honestly if we have done so. Everyone says climate emissions must be reduced, But how many developed countries reach out to developing nations with the technology required to do so?” he asked. Modi's speech showcased to the world, India's rise and its necessity in order to preserve liberal democracy.

India means business: Modi meets top global CEOs

Modi interacted with top global CEOs at an International Business Council event, besides a series of meetings with world leaders after addressing the opening plenary of the summit. He also interacted with the international business community of the Geneva-based organisation that hosts the summit each year.

The meeting saw officials from 40 global companies and 20 Indian companies, including Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Reliance Industries Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani, and Airbus CEO Dirk Hoke. Titled 'India means business', Modi said he was moving from working on the “ease of doing business to the ease of living”. He also presented opportunities for global businesses in India at the meeting, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

“The most interesting thing was uniform enthusiasm among CEOs of doing business with India, about the market, about the dynamism, about the greater ease of doing business, the sense of economic growth, and the sense of engagement in the 42 months that the Prime Minister has been Prime Minister,” remarked Daniel Yergin, Vice Chairman, HIS Markit. He stated it was “most interesting” how people were looking at India “very different than four years ago.”

“What struck me more than anything else is that he said we are moving from the ease of doing business to the ease of living, less fighting with governments, less conflict,” he said.

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