The event was an opportunity to reach out to major economies, explore trade opportunities and help widen India’s trade basket.
As the curtain slowly draws at Expo 2020 Dubai, one has to admit that it has been a marvellous event that was bravely curated in the middle of a global pandemic. Even though the world’s greatest show was late by a year, it has not seen any reduction in enthusiasm from both participants and visitors. Over 190 countries have their pavilions up and running at the Expo site spread over 4.3 square kilometres, built up at a cost of US$ 6.8 billion.
The India Pavilion has been one of the most visited pavilions at Expo 2020. It has been acknowledged as ‘One of the Most Iconic’ amongst participating countries by the American Institute of Architects. The structure with 4000-square meters of display is among the largest pavilions in the Expo. Over the six months, hundreds of business meetings, cultural events, and bilateral and multilateral summits at the India pavilion have showcased emerging opportunities in its fast growing US$ 3-trillion economy. This did take huge amount of meticulous planning by the various stakeholders including the ministries of the government of India, the governments of various states and union territories, the Indian embassy and consulate, businesses, NGOs, diaspora organizations and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI). In all, it has been a glittering display of India’s soft power.
The UAE has another great significance. It is home to an expatriate community of Indians numbering 3.4 million, constituting a third of the host country’s population and they have been contributing significantly to the growth of the country and the region. The India Pavilion at the Expo is a symbol of pride for Indians in the region.
The Expo has been an opportunity to reach out to all major economies, explore trade opportunities and help widen India’s trade basket. The India Pavilion has become a converging ground for Indian and global businesses to engage in discussions to further India’s role in the global economy. Twenty-one states took the stage for a week or more and showcased their business opportunities, highlighted their achievements, pitched for investments, and hosted cultural evenings at the Expo.
FICCI has facilitated several rounds of meetings between states as well as Indian and global businesses. Over 107 Memorandum of Understanding / Letters of Intent were signed during the last six months in respect of investments into the participating states. The Indian Pavilion has hosted over 319 business-to-government meetings, 39 government-to-government bilateral and multilateral interactions and over 1,500 business to business meetings.
Eighteen ministries of the government also took turns to participate in the Expo. From showcasing opportunities and achievements in space exploration to India’s prowess in healthcare and water management, the India Pavilion encapsulated the country’s potential as well as opportunities across these sectors.
Several sessions and seminars were held at the India Pavilion during the last six months on all ten theme areas of the Expo, namely – climate and biodiversity, space, urban and rural development, tolerance and inclusivity, knowledge and learning, travel and connectivity, global goals, health and wellness, food, agriculture and livelihoods, and water. Each session brought together governments, businesses and civil society who exchanged notes on their experiences – best practices, successes, and challenges in their domain. The sessions at the pavilion turned out to be massive learning experience for everyone.
Start-ups are playing a pivotal role in India’s emerging economy. India is already home to the third largest start-up ecosystem in the world. The India Pavilion has also been a start-up hub with its Elevate series where over 300 young entrepreneurs from India pitched for investments from global venture capital firms. The Elevate platform set up at the India Pavilion has already held twelve rounds of pitches.
What does all this accomplish for India’s people? What will happen after this edition of the Expo is over? The charm and attractiveness of India as an investment and tourist destination will live on. Many of the relationships built will grow into mature business partnerships. India will have deepened its trade and cultural engagement with the world. As the frozen world economy thaws, warms up and continues to grow, India will find a brighter spot for itself in the new age. For us at FICCI it has been an honour to contribute to this journey.
(Sanjiv Mehta is the president of FICCI.)
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