Bright colors and bold logos proudly indicate where India has established its base this year on the high street in Davos, as the country trumpets its pro-business and foreign investment.
In a pavilion on the Promenade Street of the Swiss Alpine resort under an “India @ Davos 2022” logo, the federal government served treats including ‘masala chai’ tea, ‘samosa’ snacks and other spicy delicacies.
Around it are six Indian states clustered with their own lounges, housed in what are mostly high street shops.
“It’s an Indian street, it should be called ‘Little India’. It shows that the country is open to investment,” said Samir Saran of India’s Observer Research Foundation.
Commerce Secretary Piyush Goyal told Reuters Prime Minister Narendra Modi had suggested bringing states together to show unity during the meeting of business and political leaders at the World Economic Forum.
“Investors love this kind of message,” Goyal said.
While India has been a long-time presence at the World Economic Forum, several officials and attendees from Asia’s third-largest economy said it was not as prominent before.
In the government base, food was prepared by a team of 15 chefs flown in from India, along with 450 kilograms of vegetables and local spices, Chef Guru Nathan told Reuters, as people enjoyed a fragrant morning buffet.
“We were asked to keep the spice moderate so that everyone can enjoy (the food),” said Mr. Nathan.
Just a few steps away, tech giants Infosys, Wipro and HCL Technologies have established their base near those of Alphabet’s Google, Meta and Intel.
A state government official estimated the number of Indian officials attending Davos at more than 100, which also included dozens of business leaders and a handful of startups. Mr Goyal estimated that there would be a total of 200 Indian participants.
“We have record numbers from India,” said Sriram Gutta, head of the India agenda at the WEF.
Federal ministers have discussed India’s economic boom and the opportunities it offers in Davos.
While Prime Minister Modi’s government has often faced criticism from foreign companies for announcing policies they believe are protectionist in nature and favor domestic businesses, India recently reported the highest-ever influx of foreign direct investment, reaching $22 in 2021-22. 83.57 billion.
After regularly interacting with Indian states on topics such as agricultural technology, drones and electric vehicles, the WEF has gradually increased the number of invitations to them, Mr Gutta said, adding that they “will continue to gain prominence”.
Though led by different political parties, the states tried to project a unified image and showcase their respective offers for companies, Deepak Bagla, CEO of the federal investment-promoting arm Invest India, told Reuters.
Andhra Pradesh signed investment pacts totaling $16 billion for renewable energy investments in Davos, while an official said Karnataka has held meetings with potential investors.
“What this street really shows you is the new reality of India,” Bagla said.
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