Brand India Loses Luster at World Economic Forum
Poor governance and corruption are endemic in India, and have been the talk of the town at Davos this year, tarnishing the meticulously crafted image of "Shining India" at the World Economic Forum since 2006. The immediate effect is that that India's foreign direct investment (FDI) is already down by a whopping 36% in 2010 from 2009, and there is no recovery in sight yet. Meanwhile India's current account deficit is exploding, accounting for about 3.5% of GDP.
In 2006, the "India Everywhere" campaign orchestrated by Indian planning commission officials and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) dominated the ambiance of the World Economic Forum at Davos, Switzerland. They spent two years and more than $4 million and put together an elaborate marketing and PR campaign to ensure that the "India story" got prominent play and did not get drowned in the noise at Davos. The success of the initiative was apparent by the dramatic increase in FDI inflow to India which doubled from less than 1% of GDP to nearly 2% of the expanded GDP in 2008.
Here is how Times of India reported the scene from Switzerland in 2006:
For once, India is really everywhere at Davos. With the 35th World Economic Forum (WEF) opening at the Swiss mountain resort, one cannot help but notice India Everywhere.
Right from the moment you step off the aircraft at Zurich airport, big hoardings proclaiming India greet you. Upon reaching Davos, located about 150 km from Zurich, the Indian colours are just about everywhere.
In fact, you see more of India than Switzerland in Davos this year.
The buses wear Indian colours, the bus shelters have Indian advertisements, and key bars, pubs and hotels in the city where the economic meet began Wednesday evening are serving up Indian snacks and Indian wines and beer.
Reports from the World Economic Forum at Davos in 2011 offer a very different narrative.
Coming after the massive multi-billion dollar telecom corruption scandal in 2010 and expression of deep concern by some prominient India businessmen about the nation's governance deficit in 2011, India's presence at the World Economic Forum 2011 was decidedly lower key when compared with the heady days of 2006.
Summing up the sentiment at Davos, an Indian journalist opined as follows: "..such a forthright disregard for the so-called "India story" may understandably offend nationalist sentiments and bring on the "west versus rest" polarization that keeps many public intellectuals in business. But the harsh truth is that India has been sold, resold and re-re-sold in so many samosa and Sula evenings that it has lost novelty."
Here's a video clip on India's massive corruption:
Indian Economy: Hard or Soft Landing in 2011?
Pakistani Economist Saadia Zahidi at World Economic Forum
Inaction Against Corruption in South Asia
2G Corruption Scandal in India
Musharraf at Davos 2008
Imran Khan at Davos 2011
Delhi in Davos: How India Built its Brand at the World Economic Forum
FDI India, Pakistan, China and Vietnam 2003-2010
China's Trade and Investment in South Asia
India and Pakistan at Davos 2009
India's Twin Deficits
Pakistan's Economy 2008-2010
Inflation Hits India
Goldman Sachs India Warning on Twin Deficits
India's Nov 2010 Imports, Exports