This article originally appeared on OutlookIndia.com.
Grips for the polar vortex
Getting to Davos was straightforward. I had to manage my own affairs only till the flight to Zurich. Once at the arrival gate, the World Economic Forum (WEF) welcome booth took me under its comfort wing, ready with their coach connections to guide me towards a picturesque train ride up the Alps. Once in Davos, getting about is something else altogether—sidewalks slippery with ice, long security queues to get into crowded venues, -10⁰C evening temperatures, and all this while my mind is dealing with a sensory overload of ideas and experiences. Most of the action is at the Congress Centre during the day, and at various venues spread across the promenade until late at night. One has to walk it all, so footwear is a major consideration. Then again, the thoughtful WEF welcome kit to the rescue. It comes with snow boots with anti–slip attachments. All attendees to the WEF annual meet figure it out instantly—carry your dress shoes in rucksacks, quickly change at coat-check counters.
The fearsome 4G
It is in this alpine town that the stocktaking of the modern age is taking place. Globalisation, that sceptre of our present condition twists and turns to announce another phase: this will be globalisation 4.0. The first wave was from the 1800s to pre-World War I, the second one was post-World War II up to the 1980s, and 3.0 has been from the 1980s until now. Notice a gap? The first two phases were sandwiched between wars. Today, as legitimate frustration among many over globalisation’s failure spills over into populism and nationalism, fuelled by such factors as the immigrant crisis, we haven’t exactly been at safe distance from dangerous, armed chaos.
Globalisation as a theme first made an appearance at Davos in 1996. More than 20 years later, it is here again, only, the clouds are darker. Over 350 sessions across six critical dialogues attempted to study what the new phase holds: geopolitics in a multi-conceptual world, future of the economy, industry systems and technology policy, risk resilience to promote systems thinking, human capital and society, and global institutional reform.
Nikhil Prasad Ojha is a partner in Bain & Co.’s Mumbai office. He leads Bain’s Strategy practice in India. He is also a member of Bain’s Consumer Products practice.