Leaders flag income, gender inequality as WEF concludes

RSTV Bureau
PM Modi addressing the plenary session at WEF in Davos

PM Modi addressing the plenary session at WEF in Davos

World Economic Forum — the annual congregation of world leaders at Davos — concluded on Friday with the rich and powerful of the world as well as those from academia, art, culture and civil society, flagging growing levels of gender and income inequality, as well as the financial and environmental risks.

The event also assumed significance for India as after 20 years Prime Minister participated. Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the charge against protectionism and was joined by the likes of Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron. While, US President Donald Trump wrapped it up by asserting ‘America First’ does not mean ‘America alone’.

Davos regular and IMF chief Christine Lagarde said the world should celebrate economic recovery but also repair the leaking roofs while the sun shines.

Prime Minister Modi — the first Indian prime minister to come here in over two decades — led the charge against protectionism and declared that India was an open economy and ready to host businesses from across the world and share the benefits for all with its age-old concept of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ – the world is one family.

French President Emmanuel Macron raised the issue of global warming referring to the high levels of snowfall.

PM Modi addressing the plenary session at WEF in Davos

PM Modi addressing the plenary session at WEF in Davos

Meanwhile US President Donald Trump, in his typical style, said the press always loved him as a businessman but turned “nasty” and “fake” when he joined politics and became president, eliciting quite audible hisses and boos from some people in the audience that included a large number of media persons.

Replying to the growing demand for action against what is being considered as protectionist policies in the US, Trump declared he supports free trade but it must be fair and reciprocal. He also asserted that free trade would not be possible if some countries resort to abuse of systems, taking an indirect jibe at China.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also spoke out against protectionist tendencies at the summit.

As the world leaders continued to voice their concerns over various ills facing the world, British Prime Minister Theresa May was somehow cynical that the big words spoken in Davos were often not matched with actions outside.

The official programme began on Monday with Crystal Awards for cine star Shahrukh Khan, actor Cate Blanchett and music icon Elton John. At the ceremony, the Bollywood star had his own ‘fan moment’ when he asked Blanchett for a selfie.

A concert by the Davos Festival Chamber Coir marked the end of the five-day summit.

International Trade Union Confederation’s Sharon Burrow, part of the all women co-chairs, in her closing remarks made sure to thank drivers and all the support staff for running the show successfully.

Chetna Sinha from India was also a co-chair for this year’s summit.

A large Indian delegation, including union ministers, attended the 48th annual meeting of the WEF.

(With inputs from PTI)