India’s mining maharaja and founder & chairman of $12 billion Vedanta Resources Ltd Anil Agarwal has said that the ongoing geopolitical uncertainty caused due to the Russian military action in Ukraine has put India in an advantageous position.
“We are in a sweet spot and we must take advantage of it. The way our prime minister has handled things, that can’t be matched. All countries are looking for alternate sources of supplies beyond China. They are looking at India,” Agarwal said.
Agarwal was also critical of those who were suggesting that the country sever ties with Russia.
“People are saying why we are not supporting NATO? However, we cannot break ties with Russia as we are dependent on them for our defence and other needs. India has been urging all stakeholders to hold a dialogue,” he observed.
Agarwal was speaking at the national leadership conclave organised by the All India Management Association (AIMA), the body for the regulation and licensing of the management profession, in New Delhi on Tuesday. The 68-year-old London businessman is also a recipient of AIMA’s corporate citizen award for this year.
Agarwal was of the view that India must encourage its entrepreneurs to tap its oil & gas deposits to ensure long-term energy security.
“We have so much of oil & gas deposits. Please trust our entrepreneurs to produce sufficient amounts of oil & gas. We can produce oil at $7 a barrel even after paying the government taxes. The Barmer area can be turned into a Houston,” he remarked.
However, mining and exploration businesses were being run as monopolies by a few countries that were averse to the idea of India becoming self-sufficient and that often ended up creating challenges for Indian businesses in mining.
Agarwal said that the negative perceptions around mining also needed to change. “When I was getting into mining, my daughter told me that it was not a good business!” he recounted.
He said that it was also necessary that government got out of businesses of all kinds.
“We should have ten companies to produce coal. But we have only one company, which is Coal India,” he said.
The man who is looking at acquiring stake in Bharat Petroleum Corp. Ltd (BPCL) and Shipping Corp. of India (SCI) had an interesting recommendation on government’s privatisation plans.
“Don’t sell companies to Anil Agarwal. Make them into corporations. Companies like HDFC and L&T are being managed by wonderful boards. Government should just get out of business. That will create phenomenal opportunities for employment generation,” he said.
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