Modi Addressing the World Economic Forum: “India Considers the Entire World its Family”
Narendra Modi, current Prime Minister of India, became the first Indian prime minister since 1997 to address the World Economic Forum delegates on Tuesday. After thanking Davos, Switzerland for hosting the 48th annual WEF conference, Modi delivered a speech that encouraged both globalization and cooperation between international powers in the face of increasingly popular protectionist ideologies.
Modi’s one-hour long speech was delivered entirely in Hindi, and it began by addressing the problem in this year’s WEF theme: “Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World.” Fracture, Modi said, exists in a variety of ways in our modern world: in individual human relationships, in the media, in the present versus the future, etc. In order to progress, according to Modi, the world needs to address the fracture in the way India has attempted to.
“We have always believed that victory over oneself is the biggest victory. The first and foremost in this is the victory over mind; control over mind. This is our soft power; in fact, our real power. Now, the whole world has started recognizing it,” Modi boldly claimed.
Modi’s discussion of India’s success did not stop there. He declared India the world’s “largest democracy” with the “world’s fastest growing economy.” India’s diversity, Modi said, and efforts to promote unity among diverse groups of people make it strong. Modi also mentioned reforms his administration had undertaken to modernize India, promote investment, and increase transparency. In addressing the solutions to the world’s challenges, Modi portrayed India as a nation dedicated to the future, with growing commitments to technology, business, and innovation.
The biggest focus of Modi’s speech was not on India’s national affairs, however, but rather, India’s willingness to work with other international powers to solve issues. In Modi’s eyes, the three most pertinent concerns facing the world right now are terrorism, climate change, and nations’ increasing self-centeredness.
Modi’s proposed solutions to both terrorism and climate change followed the same general guideline: the global community must unite, setting aside differences to work towards common goals. In his discussion of climate change, Modi also mentioned India’s commitment to renewable energy and the recent formation of an organization known as the International Solar Alliance (ISA), of which 121 countries are currently members. The ISA is to be headquartered in India.
Modi’s entire speech followed a theme that embraced globalization and condemned what he labelled as the world’s third most pressing concern: nations acting solely in their own self-interests. Though Modi did not explicitly mention world leaders who have encouraged protectionism over globalization, such as United States President Donald Trump, by name, his speech was taken as a general warning against isolationist ideologies.
Modi’s words were received generally quite well in the delegates in attendance at the summit this year. His opening speech mirrored that of Chinese leader Xi Jinping from last year, who was unable to attend this year. Xi’s speech similarly encouraged global cooperation in the face of obstacles.
In essence, Modi’s speech reflects India’s growing influence in global affairs and the increasing divide between the ideologies preached by international powerhouses. US President Donald Trump is set to deliver his own speech three days from now. It will be interesting to hear what is expected to be the polar opposite message from Modi’s.