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India shining at WEF
AK Bhattacharya in Davos | January 28, 2005 09:30 IST
India Inc seems to have arrived. Two Indian companies -- Infosys and Reliance Industries -- are among the 44 global strategic partners, which are contributing their expertise and resources to the organisation of the 2005 Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
This is unusual. Infosys and Reliance are now listed along with 42 other strategic partners, which include names like ABB, Audi, Boeing, BP, Coca-Cola, Computer Associates, HP, IBM, McKinsey, Microsoft, Nestle, New York Stock Exchange, and PepsiCo.
Infosys chairman and chief mentor N R Narayana Murthy is also one of the co-chairs of the annual meeting this year. He is only the second Indian to have been made the co-chair in this prestigious annual event.
Rahul Bajaj of Bajaj Auto was made a co-chair a few years ago. Narayana Murthy's colleagues on the panel of co-chairs include Bill Gates of Microsoft, Lubna S Olayan, CEO of Olayan Financing Company, Charles O Prince, CEO of Citigroup, John A Thain, CEO of the New York Stock Exchange, and Daniel Vasella, chairman and CEO, Novartis.
The honour of becoming a strategic partner does not come free. According to a knowledgeable industry source, a company has to shell out at least $100,000 (about Rs 44 lakh).
In return, the company can sponsor delegates, and hold special meetings, and gets an opportunity to interact and network with its international business associates and global political leaders. Over 2,000 business and political leaders are gathered at the annual meeting this year.
Which is why some members of the Indian industry delegation at the WEF meeting are surprised at the sudden decision of Mukesh Ambani, chairman of Reliance Industries, to cancel his visit to Davos.
Ambani was to have taken part in a session on Asia's new multinationals on Friday, along with Malvinder Mohan Singh, president, Ranbaxy Laboratories.
Nikhil Meswani, executive director, Reliance Industries, was also expected to take part in a session on 'India and the world in 2025' on Saturday. The information so far is that Meswani, too, has pulled out.
What, however, has caught the attention of Indian industry leaders attending the meeting, is what the senior Ambani wrote while defining a great leader in a special WEF publication.
"There is evidence to prove that great companies do not require charismatic leaders. Charismatic, flamboyant and swashbuckling leaders are, on the contrary, anathema for building great companies. If we look around, we can find innumerable examples of humble, disciplined and dedicated leaders committed to building great companies," Ambani wrote.
Anil Ambani, vice-chairman of Reliance Industries, who is now engaged in a battle with his elder brother over ownership issues, used to be a regular visitor to the WEF annual meetings at Davos. But this year, Anil Ambani also has skipped the meeting.
In sharp contrast, Infosys has taken full advantage of being one of the strategic partners. Its CEO, Nandan Nilekani, has written about the "Infosys Predictability" in a special WEF publication, explaining how operating with complete transparency in every aspect of business has been its blueprint for building the company and creating predictability for customers, investors and other companies."All this suggests how India, along with China, is now recognised as a key player in the global business environment and the meetings in Davos signify this crucial change in the way India Inc has grown," said Tarun Das, chief mentor of the Confederation of Indian Industry.