WEF: An Elites' Club
Between January 15 and 19, the conference of the World Economic Forum (WEF), an important forum of the world, was held in Davos (Switzerland). The World Economic Forum, which came into existence in the year 1971, has emerged as an important institution discussing the global economic issues for the last 53 years. Many subjects including trade, geopolitics, security, cooperation, energy, environment and nature have been discussed on this platform. Big celebrities from economic, political, social and technology fields participated in this conference at Davos. Apart from the heads of government of 60 countries, representatives of many big institutions, politicians, heads of multinational companies, and many prominent personalities from the economic, social and political world were seen in the meetings and seminars organized in this conference. If we look at the members of the World Economic Forum and its membership fees, it comes to mind that this forum is not an all-inclusive forum. This is a platform funded by 1000 big multinational companies (MNCs) of the world. Obviously, when MNCs provide funds to run the activities of this forum and huge fees are charged for participating in it, then people, concerned about the welfare of the less fortunate sections of the society cannot participate in it.
WEF can be called the forum of only those giant companies of the world who fund the activities of the forum. Because there is nothing as serving the interests of the common people of the world in this. If we talk about the World Economic Forum 2024, then we see that the issues discussed in this 5-day long conference do not seem to have any special relevance to the common people. All the 60 heads of government who participated in this forum of the World Economic Forum were seen expressing concern over the turmoil in global geopolitics, increasing hostility and war situation between the countries. Although their concerns are legitimate, when discussing the economy, their focus was not at all on the inequalities between countries and poverty, illiteracy and unemployment of the masses in the world. A topic that is of concern to the entire world, i.e. environment and climate change, was discussed, but no political will was seen among global leaders to find a solution. MNCs, whose assets are worth trillions of dollars, may discuss environmental problems at the World Economic Forum or other forums, but they are still unable to spare the technology with them to tackle this problem, without exploitative prices. This situation points towards the dual character of multinational companies. While climate change continues to be the biggest challenge facing humanity at the moment, yet these multinational companies are not ready to sacrifice their profits. All the celebrities who came to attend the Davos conference, discussed the deteriorating environment in the world and the threats of destruction due to changing climate, but most of them came there in their own private planes. They seemed indifferent towards how much carbon was emitted and the environment was degraded. Due to the high fees, activists working for marginalized communities, backward societies and the general public could not been invited to participate in this conference. The presence of heads of government and big ministers in governments and selected intellectuals favourites of big companies provides legitimacy to the agenda of these companies.
Obviously, no matter how much these multinational companies talk about humanity and welfare, their behavior during the worst pandemic of this century was highly shameless. A company called Pfizer deliberately supplied an ineffective covid vaccine across the world. The company was well aware that their vaccine was not effective, yet they were also putting pressure on the Indian government through the American government. Not only this, under US's pressure, India's opposition parties were also pressurizing the government to buy its vaccine. On the sidelines of the last World Economic Forum (2023), when the CEO of Pfizer Company was asked questions in this regard, he shamelessly refused to say anything. It is no secret that 'GATT' agreements were made under the pressure of multinational companies, which included TRIPS, TRIMs, services agreement and agriculture agreement. The TRIPS Agreement not only extended the term of patents on all types of products, including drugs and medical devices, in the interest of multinational companies, it also implemented the transition from process patents to product patents, which hampered health security, all around the world. When the companies protested against South African government purchasing of medicines from India's Cadila company in World Trade Organisation (WTO) and faced public anger due to this, it was accepted in WTO that patents would be ineffective during pandemic and health emergency situations. But the world witnessed that amidst the worst pandemic of the century, multinational companies did not give up their patent rights.
It can be understood that no welfare of the world can be expected from such an international forum which is dominated only by multinational companies and in which the representatives of the masses in the world do not have any effective role. It has to be understood that what can be expected from the World Economic Forum, which is funded and run by MNCs, insensitive towards humanity, whose only religion is profit. On January 19, 2024, U.S. Representative Scott Perry (PA-10), joined by five others, introduced the 'Defund Davos Act'. He said, "Forcing American Taxpayers to fund annual ski trips for insular, global elitists is absurd - not to mention reprehensible…… The World Economic Forum doesn't deserve one cent of American funding, and it's past time we defund Davos." If this act is passed, WEF will stop getting any funding from US exchequer. This shows that WEF is being opposed by congressmen in US as well, accusing it to be elitist and having no relevance for the common man.