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Utilising Resources To Succeed

India is rich in natural resources. If the sector is developed well, it can generate significant job opportunities and revenues for the country

Photo Credit : BIvash Banerjee

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India’s prospects are leading it to a very bright future, positioning it to be the driver of global growth. I have always believed in the diverse potential of our country, and today, this belief is backed by ongoing economic reforms that have been acknowledged globally.

In its latest World Economic Outlook update, the International Monetary Fund has predicted 7.7 per cent growth for India in 2018. The research study by Harvard University’s Center for International Development estimates India’s GDP to grow at 7.72 per cent annually for nearly a decade. While today, China has overtaken the US to become the world’s largest economy in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms, Harvard predicts China’s economic growth to dramatically fall to 4.41 per cent in the coming years until 2025. And India, which currently occupies the third place, is projected to not just remain ahead of China but overtake the US by 2040 in PPP terms.

Our country’s growth is powered by its attractive long-term future driven largely by a consuming class. While the common perception is to look at China as a growing market, we know that what is produced in India is also sold in India. Consumption in India is set to triple to $4 trillion by 2025 as rising affluence drives changes in consumer behaviour and spending patterns, according to a report by the Boston Consulting Group’s Center for Customer Insight.

India’s urban transformation is increasing its attractiveness as a global investment destination. India represents a huge opportunity for domestic and international businesses that can provide capital, technology, as well as the goods and services urban consumers demand. The government has been working tirelessly to improve ease of doing business with game-changing reforms to create a conducive environment for foreign investment and for Indian entrepreneurs.

This is the time to strengthen self-sufficiency and popularise the ‘Swadeshi’ philosophy. India spends $380 billion on imports. With 7 per cent growth in five to seven years, this can cross almost a trillion dollars. As of 2015, while China’s manufacturing industry contributed about 40 per cent to its GDP, India’s average remained at 15-17 per cent. The aim of the National Manufacturing Policy is to enable the manufacturing sector to contribute at least 25 per cent of the GDP by 2022.  

We can take advantage of the fact that India is a young country, with average age of 27. Our skilled youth have founded most of our 4,000 startups in the country. Indian entrepreneurs have delivered world class telecom companies, airports, infrastructure, ports, large industries, and steel companies. Once we take a strategic call, we work hard to achieve our goals. This characteristic, combined with an inherent entrepreneurial spirit, is why Prime Minister’s ‘Make in India’ campaign is succeeding. This facet drives diverse private sector growth and contributes to a robust Indian workforce.

A robust workforce is aligned with the Indian government’s efforts to reduce poverty. Our PM’s Jan Dhan Yojana for bank accounts, Ujjawala Yojana for LPG connections  to BPL families, along with Aadhaar card for direct cash benefits, are succeeding in reaching out to every Indian.

The government is also working towards achieving gender equality, encouraging education and employment of women, a cause I too have been championing for over the last two decades. Presently, women contribute only 17 per cent of India’s GDP and make up just 24 per cent of the workforce, compared with 40 per cent globally.

While substantial focus has been laid on the development on the ground, it is also essential to focus on the development of resources under the ground. We should focus on a Swadeshi strategy for India’s natural resources sector, which can generate significant employment and revenues for the industry and the government.

Mining only accounts for 2.5 per cent of the GDP currently, while for mineral rich countries such as Australia, it is 10 per cent. Take the example of Rajasthan, it can wipe off a loan of Rs 1 lakh crore by auctioning its marble stone, potash and rock phosphate. Did you know that India is the third-largest marble producer in the world? It also has vast amounts of phosphate and potash reserves. India’s minerals demand is expected to grow rapidly alongside economic development, improved infrastructure and urbanisation.

Wherever natural resources are being developed, local areas see a major growth in employment opportunities. The direct result of this translates into poverty eradication and skill development of rural youth, alongside creation of small and medium-sized enterprises. The natural resources sector also holds the potential to boost India’s agricultural economy by generating revenue flow, thereby extending support to the rural communities and farmers.

Success in exploration of mineral resources is important to maintain the flow of auctionable mining blocks in the market and meet India’s internal demand. It is also very important to ensure safety and environmental protection.  

The fourth industrial revolution is about maintaining a fine balance between technology, nature and humanity. It is heartening to note that not just Vedanta, but also other natural resource companies are adopting breakthrough processes to reduce their carbon footprint and ensure localised economic development. Modern technology helps us to adhere to environmental safeguards while conducting mining projects. Surveying projects that once took weeks using traditional surveying techniques, are now possible in just a few hours.

The mining industry, I believe, is capable of positioning itself at the forefront of India’s inclusive economic development. If Indian entrepreneurs and multinationals explore these opportunities, they could do wonders.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Anil Agarwal

The author is chairman of Vedanta Resources

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