This article originally appeared on LiveMint.com.
The last few days at the World Economic Forum (WEF), Davos, have been a blur. It is not just several interesting sessions across politics, business, science, society and the environment, or the speed-dates with many familiar and new faces across lounges, hallways and even on the streets. Rather, it is the sensory overload of seemingly diverse ideas, building up to a crescendo of a common underlying theme: "We can all work together to build a better future."
I was reminded of US diplomat George Keenan’s response to the Senate about the mindset with which the then cold war problem was being approached. "I have a fear, that our thinking about this whole problem is still affected by some sort of illusions about invincibility on our part," he had said. Fittingly, on the digital sidelines of a Twitter stage, American author Anand Giridhardas has been playing Banquo’s ghost all week, and has elicited a few testy reactions. Meanwhile, ideas about circular economy, reducing packaging intensity and using virtual reality (VR) for an immersive "life as a tree" experience, were all over the main venue.
This year's theme was Globalization 4.0, which includes a strong cultural dimension. Obviously, this goes to the heart of what 'globalization' truly means. The days when globalization was about "exporting the West to the rest" are well and truly behind us—given what is now apparent in the US and Europe, and also the direction that India, China and countries in Africa are taking. Whether the interplay among regions creates a new, yet positive normal or it ends in tears, made for some lively dialogue at a small group discussion of thought leaders. Even in a session on The New Space Age, a discussion on regulating the burgeoning activities by new actors, sovereign and private, grappled with the question of how to ensure new regulations do not create a difficult playing field for new entrants or implicitly favour those who were in space first.
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.