Narendra Modi’s oratory prowess ‘more influential than Xi Jinping’, sets tone at WEF


Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s maiden keynote speech in Davos at the World Economic Forum began with how the world has changed in the past two decades — from a time when tweeting was a job of birds to the the age of big data and artificial intelligence — and gradually set the tone for India, as a leader, ready to roll-out the red-carpet for the world to do business. While Narendra Modi’s objective of visiting the summit was to hardsell reforms undertaken to make India an investiment destination, his powerful words on three biggest threats of the world — climate change, terrorism and protectionism — established the narrative that India, a developing nation, is on its way to lead the world.

Narendra Modi’s nearly 50-minute-long speech had resemblance to what Chinese premier Xi Jingping said last at the summit; only better, said top industrialist Anand Mahindra. “Indian delegation breaks into applause as @PMOIndia chooses to speak in Hindi. He’s in his element & connects with the audience by making humorous comments on the changing times. Xi Jinping certainly didn’t do that..if you’re looking for differences between India & China,” Anand Mahindra, who was also present in Davos, posted in tweet.

Speaking on India’s reforms, the Prime Minister said that India, under the government led by him, replaced red-tapism with red carpet and and removed artificial borders within the nation by introducing one nation, one tax in the form of the Goods and Services Tax. “We have pledged to end the licence regime from its roots. We are removing red tape and laying a red carpet. More than 1,400 archaic law have been abolished,” he said, adding that reform, perform and transform’ is his mantra for development.

Protectionism is gaining ground and globalisation is losing its appeal, but India is open for business, he told the World Economic Forum, attended by 350 political leaders including over 60 heads of states along with chief executives of the world’s most important companies and over 1,000 leaders from different walks of lives.

His comments on rising trade barriers came ahead of an address to the forum later this week by US President Donald Trump, who has championed inward looking policies for the world’s biggest economy, Reuters reported. “Instead of globalisation, the power of protectionism is putting its head up. Their wish is not only to save themselves from globalisation, but to change the natural flow of globalisation,” Narendra Modi said.

Trump has been pushing an ‘America First’ policy of getting businesses to invest in the United States instead of overseas, potentially affecting the growth prospects of emerging economies. The Guardian on Donald Trump’s address at the WEF, said, “One option would be to play to the crowd inside the conference hall by insisting that the US remains wedded to multilateralism. But to do so he would have to repudiate what he has said up until now about immigration, globalisation and climate change. That would be a big story.”

Last year Xi Jingping offered a robust defense to globalisation, in a veiled counter to Donald Trump’s protectionist policy in Davos, which was hailed as a new era in global leadership. “No one will emerge as a winner in a trade war” and ‘in a world marked by great uncertainty and volatility the world is looking to China” were the statements that left impression on the minds of global CEOs.

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