Davos: The who’s who of the world is gathered in Davos this week for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF). Davos is a small town (with a population of about eleven thousand) located in the Alps mountains in Switzerland. Normally, it is popular for skiing but for one week in winter it almost becomes the centre of the world. Presidents, Prime Ministers, Chief Executives of the largest companies, tech titans, global bankers, heads of multinational agencies and thought leaders come to Davos and discuss the state of the world.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the WEF and the attendees in Davos more or less agree that the state of the world in 2020 is looking uncertain. We are the beginning of a new decade, but we do not seem to share the optimism about the future compared to 2000 or 2010. The reasons for our collective anxiety are many. Global trade wars, unrest and citizen protests in different countries, and geo-political tensions flaring up in the Middle East. There are also concerns about growing inequality of wealth and opportunities, worries that automation and artificial intelligence technologies will impact many of our jobs, and that newer technologies such as social media are actually harming democracies and societies rather than strengthening them. It is almost as we if have “world disorder”, instead of a reassuring world order.
And we have not even talked about what is perhaps the biggest issue for the planet – the climate crisis. In fact, addressing the dangers caused by climate change is at the top of the agenda in Davos this year. So much so that this year’s WEF may be a Trump versus Thunberg event. Swedish teenager and environmental activist, Greta Thunberg, has become the face of the climate change activists and said that while awareness levels have increased but not much action has been taken to address the challenges. Speaking later, US President Donald Trump reiterated his climate change skepticism as expected.
Leading the Indian delegation to Davos, Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal said that India is serious about climate change while pointing out that our contribution to climate change is relatively less. Goyal also spoke about the government’s constant efforts to make India investor friendly. Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, Madhya Pradesh CM Kamal Nath and Telangana IT and Industries Minister KT Rama Rao are leading the respective State delegations to Davos. Nearly 100 Indian business leaders and officials are also in attendance.
Minister KT Rama Rao and the Telangana team which includes IT and Industries Secretary Jayesh Ranjan are championing Telangana’s unique place in India and the various options available for global companies to invest and grow in Telangana. Telangana’s business-friendly image, the team’s understanding of technology and AI, focus on encouraging start-ups are resonating well with the global companies and investors.
Not only official delegations, another company from Telangana is also in the spotlight at Davos. Quantela, which provides an AI-based platform for managing urban infrastructure, has been selected as a “Technology Pioneer” by WEF. Quantela CEO Sridhar Gadhi spoke on how cities can transition to the digital age and in another session, shared best practices with on integrating data to improve quality of life for citizens.
— Kashyap Kompella, CEO of the technology industry analyst company RPA2AI Research, is in Davos to attend an MIT event on artificial intelligence and is a guest contributor to Telangana Today.