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Indian leaders who gave WEF meet a miss

January 23, 2014 13:08 IST

Indian leaders who gave WEF meet a miss

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Barun Jha in Davos

While the rich and famous from across the world have assembled in Davos for their annual talk-fest and networking for business, many top Indian business leaders like Mukesh Ambani and Rahul Bajaj have given this year's WEF Annual Meeting a miss.

Others who have been in Davos earlier but could not make it to the ongoing meeting include Anand Mahindra, Kumar Mangalam Birla and Chanda Kochhar.

Among these, people like Bajaj, Mahindra and Kochhar have been very active in WEF meetings and used to speak on a host of issues very vocally, although leaders like Ambani and Birla have always kept a low profile.

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Image: Mukesh Ambani.
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

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But what is not missing is a highly informal atmosphere which corporate and political leaders from India are enjoying here in this Swiss ski resort town -- which generally remains a rarity amid watchful public eye back in India.

These top-shots can be seen enjoying their drinks and snacks and cracking jokes at various parties and receptions being hosted in Davos on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting.

Despite these dropouts, Indian delegation still runs into about 125 business and political leaders, which makes India's presence fourth largest after the US, UK and the host country Switzerland.

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Image: Anand Mahindra, chairman of Mahindra & Mahindra, speaks during a news conference in Mumbai.
Photographs: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters
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Those present here include Tata group chief Cyrus Mistry, top executives of TCS and a host of other IT firms such as Infosys, Tech Mahindra and iGate, Bharti group's Sunil Mittal, Ravi Ruia and Prashant Ruia of Essar group, bankers Uday Kotak and Rana Kapoor, as also a host of CEOs from many medium-to-large Indian companies.

Among the Indian-origin global business leaders, PepsiCo's Indra Nooyi and ArcelorMittal's Lakshmi Mittal are also present.

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Image: Chanda Kochhar.
Photographs: Vivek Prakash/Reuters

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In addition, Finance Minister P Chidambaram is in Davos along with his cabinet colleagues like Anand Sharma and Kamal Nath, as also Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Economic Affairs Secretary Arvind Mayaram and Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithvi Raj Chavan.

Industry body Confederation of Indian Industry Director General Chandra Kant Bannerjee said that some Indian leaders may not have been able to come,

but this does not mean that India's presence is less.

He said that there are close to 120-130 participants from India, including four union ministers, and at least 30 of them are speaking at various sessions at the WEF meeting.

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Image: Kumar Mangalam Birla.
Photographs: Bazuki Muhammad/Reuters

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Asked about some big corporate leaders not being able to make it to the meeting, Banerjee said this has happened mostly due to two reasons.

One, he said, could be due to personal matters of the concerned person and the other that many leaders have actually begun sending their next-generation leaders or next-in- commands to this event which was actually a good trend.

Even before the event started on Tuesday, some high profile participants, including those from India, had announced their no-shows, while some more have failed to turn up in the past two days.

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Image: Cyrus Mistry.
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters

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Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif cancelled his visit to WEF annual meeting after a deadly Taliban attack in his country.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was one of the star attractions here last year, had also to cancel her trip after a skiing accident.

Among Indian businessmen, it remains to be seen whether Vijay Mallya manages to make it to the summit, as troubles at his now-defunct airline venture Kingfisher has resulted into problems for his other ventures and have also cast a shadow on his big-ticket sale of majority stake in United Spirits to global liquor giant Diageo.

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Image: Rahul Bajaj.
Photographs: Rediff Archives

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However, Diageo's Indian-origin CEO Ivan Menezes is present here and is also meeting Indian ministers and business leaders.

While nearly 40 heads of state and more than 1,500 global chief executive officers are scheduled to be present, some big global names that are absent include chiefs of technology giants like Microsoft (although founder Bill Gates is present), Google, Facebook and Apple.

However, Yahoo's young CEO Marissa Mayer is one of the co-chairs along with Infosys' Kris Gopalakrishnan.

Vodafone chief is also not here, although heads of PepsiCo, Coca Cola, Wal-Mart and a host of European banks are in Davos.

Once a regular, Citibank's former CEO Vikram Pandit too is not present, while his successor and incumbent chief of global banking giant, Mike Corbat, has also given this year's summit a miss.


Image: Former Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit gives an interview on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
Photographs: Brendan McDermid/Reuters

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