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Indian industry captains stay cautiously optimistic at WEF

This year's World Economic Forum, which is being held against the backdrop of a slow global recovery, has a large Indian delegation in attendance.

Diversified group Mahindra & Mahindra's senior executive Pawan Goenka said, ‘There is enough optimism about India. Therefore, I don't think that India story is dead at Davos.’

‘In fact when I talk about India, there is this whole feeling that India has taken a back seat at Davos. But I did not see that,’ stated Goenka, who is Executive Director & President of Automotive & Farm Equipment Sectors at the group.

Discussions about the outcome of upcoming polls and the advent of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) were major talking points.

‘Everyone is more positive about economic recovery in different markets and there is an increasingly positive mood in Davos this year. About India, everyone is waiting for the elections and people are in watch mode,’ N Chandrasekaran, chief executive officer and managing director of India's largest information technology firm TCS said.

‘What I am telling the Indian ministers here is that they should use platform like Davos to tell the world about their showcase projects that they have delivered,’ Hinduja Group's Prakash Hinduja said. According to Hinduja, a noted businessman, there is a perception the Indian government has done little, but that is far from the truth as government has indeed done many things.

Global real estate consultancy Jones Lang LaSalle's (JLL) India head Anuj Puri said the mood about India is ‘something like subdued optimism or dissatisfied optimism’.

Participating at World Economic Forum, Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma had said foreign investors continue to remain bullish on India and government's steps to fast track project clearances have given a boost to the growth story.

India growth story looks better this year: Uday Kotak

Davos:
The India story is looking better this year but is nowhere close to the exuberance seen at the World Economic Forum meet a few years ago, prominent banker Uday Kotak said on Saturday.  ‘This year’s Davos is without any major earth-shattering crisis on hand, unlike the recent years when we had global financial crisis, euro zone crisis etc,’ said financial services conglomerate Kotak group’s chief.

‘My experience over the years at Davos has been that when it has been a white Davos without any dark clouds, then we need to be more alert as there may be something lurking,’ he added.

In the context of the calm right now, with some turbulence in currency markets over the last 24 hours, Kotak said that US growth is likely to be slower than expected. The Euro zone is also continuing to be slow but is not in a crisis, and on the global scene there are challenges on China-Japan relationships and on Iran and Saudi Arabia, he added.

‘So, I would like to believe that 2014 would be pretty sober,’ said Kotak who has been a regular at Davos summit for many years now. Further, he said that India is looking better at Davos as compared to the last year, but it is nowhere near the exuberance that was seen in 2007-2008.

‘Therefore, I am of the view that in terms of outlook for 2013-14, I see the growth at around or sub 5 per cent and in 2014-15 at 5-5.5 per cent.

Indian growth will pick up gradually, which is not a bad thing in the medium to long term as it would give time to the Indian economy and businesses to shape up and get their act together, he added.

‘As I think about Davos on the last day, I go back with a certain sense of it being without any major crisis, but it being a silent-water Davos story,’ Kotak said. The World Economic ForumAnnual Meeting began here on January 21 and ended on Saturday night.
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