This article originally appeared on Livemint.com.
For all of those who might feel self-important about being invited to the World Economic Forum in Davos, there is nothing more humbling or equalizing than being caught in a mind-numbing traffic jam. The events kicked off on Monday but the famed Swiss efficiency took a battering from the weather. The largest snowstorm in over two decades disrupted the entire transportation infrastructure with roads clogged, trains cancelled and apparently even helicopter landings restricted. For the first time that veterans can remember, events had to be pushed back on the opening day so that people could make it on time.
However, despite all this, the delegates are here. The theme last year was around the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its impact on businesses and economies. It was both optimistic in terms of the potential for transforming lives and downbeat in the short-term impact on jobs. This year, the theme is “Creating a shared future in a fractured world.” The subtext is that while there are many indicators that point to an optimistic future, there is a lot to be concerned about. For the first time in a long time, the global economic engine seems to be firing in all regions—from the US to India and China in Asia to even Greece and Spain in Europe. Stock markets around the world are reaching levels that one couldn’t have imagined a couple of years ago. However, in the midst of all this, the level of inequality is rising with a large number of people being left out of the economic gains that seem to be concentrated at the top. You don’t need to come to Davos to understand this but there is clear unease among participants that the knock on the door may portend trouble.
Sri Rajan is chairman, Bain & Company India.