MAC: Mines and Communities

London Calling takes the shine off an Indian entrepreneur

Published by MAC on 2014-03-14
Source: Nostromo Research, India Today (2014-03-13)

Vedanta Resources' executive chairman has used a top-level  Indian "conclave" to contrast Chinese centralised "development" with the US version of its neo-liberal opposite. He did so in New Delhi on 7 March (see below).

It's no surprise to find where Anil Agarwal places his bets. Nor that the central government's minister of commerce and industry rates him "a shining example of Indian entrepreneurship".

Of course, in practice, the Chinese  and US "models" aren't necessarily incompatable. For example, Chile's copper industry has long been ruled over  by both the state (through Codelco) and private players  like BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Antofagasta.

Even if this weren't the case, Agarwal's characterisation of "the American way of partnership" as being "democratic" is risible: big business, the military and government may collude, but they don't even consult with the "people".

Beijing's leadership now seems intent upon its reining-in its overall rate of "growth" in order to meet the growing clamour of Chinese citizens for an escape from massive industrial pollution.  It's starting to stand up against the country's yuan billionaires when they profit from environmental criminality.

But the US administration and what Agarwal laughably terms "green countries (sic) like Australia, South Africa, Latin America (sic)" have consistently failed - over many decades - to respond to similar demands from numerous civil society groups.

There's more nonsense in his contention that, after India's first essay at privatisation two decades ago, "[p]eople from all over the world were coming to India to invest".

In fact, very few overseas mining companies have taken up this challenge - and virtually none of these have been from China.

In contrast, Chinese mining companies (especially following their country's admission to the World Trade Organisation in 2002) have made a far greater impact elsewhere in the world.

Not that these were received with wide acclaim, especially in parts of Africa and Latin America. However, as often pointed out by several  commentators in the Global South, US and Australian companies are hardly blame-free for entrenching their own brands of
irresponsibility in the same regions.

Posturing

Mr Agarwal's address to the New Delhi conclave found him, once again, posturing as an iconic Indian entrepreneur, on an heroic mission to bring enhanced livelihoods to his fellow countryfolk.

And that's the biggest piece of bulldust among the many myths he's trying to peddle.

Agarwal runs his businesses from London, where he occupies a luxury mansion. He's become a sterling billionaire, thanks to listing Vedanta on the London Stock Exchange. (However, the UK wasn't one of those "green countries" he specifically singled-out last week).

He and his cronies have impoverished thousands of endemically-poor ordinary Indians, while making themselves richer. And they've done this with more than a whiff of corruption surrounding Vedanta's wheels and deals.

The great and good in India seem more than happy to ignore the illegalities for which Mr Agarwal is primarily responsible.

For its part, the government of India has done virtually nothing to address these delinquencies, while their main perpetator continues  receiving plaudits from the country's business elite.

Ironically, were Agarwal to operate in China, like he's been doing in "the world's greatest democracy", he could be put before the courts - and even sent to prison.

India Today Conclave: High time for India to harness natural resources, says Anil Agarwal

India Today Online New Delhi

7 March 2014

To harness natural resources, India can either go the Chinese way of centralisation or the American way of partnership, Vedanta Resources Executive Chairman Anil Agarwal said at the India Today Conclave 2014 on Friday.

"The American way is a democratic way and this is how they have taken the country forward," Agrawal said at a session with Commerce Minister Anand Sharma 'How India Can Win the Next Decade: Give Us Growth, Jobs and a Dash of Decisions'.

"It is high time for us to look at our natural resources and manufacturing. The Indian import bill was $500 billion. All this material we imported we have the capability to manufacture and create new employment," he said.

"We have seen all over the world. In the last 10 years, green countries like Australia, South Africa, Latin America have harnessed 10 times more natural resources than India," he said.

"We can produce 600 million tonnes of iron ore but produce only 100 million tonnes."

Quoting Chanakya, he said: "In absence of fruitful of economic activity, current prosperity and future growth is in danger."

Agarwal said he was able to make his company grow after the liberalisation during the tenure of the P.V. Narasimha Rao government in 1991.

"We are the products of the Narasimha Rao government. People from all over the world were coming to India to invest," he said.

"We have grown in India around the public sector environment," he said.

India on track to regain high growth, says Anand Sharma

India cannot afford but to recapture and reach 8-9 per cent growth again, Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Anand Sharma said at the India Today Conclave on Friday.

"I feel, for the next decade, India must go back to high growth. India cannot afford but to recapture and reach 8-9 per cent growth again. We can do that; we are on track," he said at the session with Anil Agarwal.

Lauding the 1991 liberalisation, Sharma said: "If we go back in 1991, after the collapse of the Berlin Wall, that was the time India connected.

"The leadership of India decided to step out and engage with the world and to unleash entrepreneurship. And pulled tens of thousands out of poverty and Indian entrepreneurs are full of confidence. Anil Agarwal is a shining example of Indian entrepreneurship."

India's national income has trebled, Sharma said. "It's a national effort. We have growth consistently whatever claims have been made," he said.

"But there cannot be any denial if there is any intellectual honesty that there was financial crisis in the world. But we have reenergized growth. India became an engine of global recovery. There was theory of decoupling at that time, but I always said no," he said.

Sharma said Indian economic growth must be inclusive. "It has to have a human face. The trickle down theory was for rich countries, not for us. We have to ensure the government provides a social security net," he said.

Sharma also said that manufacturing must grow in double digits.

"We must improve the ecosystem and our image where people are comfortable about doing business," he said.

Sharma said 16 industrial cities have been notified. "Eight of them are on the Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor. We have added two more industrial cities on electronics near Bangalore and Hyderabad. We are building more port cities," he said.

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