Switzerland’s tiny Swiss Alps town of Davos has meant many different things to people as it hosts the annual World Economic Forum summits. The meeting of plutocrats used to be a forum where ideas were thrown at the super-rich and governments on how to make the world better. If this year’s event turned into a series of confrontations than cosy confabulations, blame it on the effects of climate change, like the Australian bush fires.
Its evolution as an “anti-capitalist event of capitalists” has veered more towards climate activists taking on the powerful to tell them the world is on fire and they better do something. Greta Thunberg versus Donald Trump was a great sideshow that took centrestage, to act as a shrill ringtone to the ears of the powerful to mend themselves lest there be not much of a planet left if the rich go on living off the fat of the land.
Official India may not have been too impressed with George Soros’ warning on rising populism and its noticeable effects in the “biggest and most frightening setback” in India (read Hindutva). To walk the talk, he pledged $1 billion to fight dictators. A godman’s voice that regularly supports the government was heard saying the burning of buses on the streets in the anti-CAA protests was likely to put off global investors. But would the adamant even think of giving up pet populist projects in the face of trenchant criticism?
It is undeniable the fight against global warming will be more effective under a progressive tax system and stricter carbon emission standards, but the rich and the multinational corporations are unlikely to stomach it. How long will the poor bear the brunt? This is why we need Davos to be even more confrontational while it speaks truth to power....