Anil Agarwal, the scrap metal dealer turned billionaire metals tycoon, says Prime Minister Narendra Modi should tap underground resources, grant autonomy to public sector firms and banks and extend up to Rs 2 lakh loan to all Aadhaar card holders to eradicate poverty and create jobs.
India, he says, is in 'satyug' under the Modi government where coteries have been demolished and only performance recognised.
In an interview to PTI, the ebullient billionaire said district collectors should be made business development managers to develop tourism and industry while monuments, forts and beaches should be made autonomous to generate revenue and employment.
"Indian story is the story of famous movie 'Mother India' where the farmer would grow 100 quintals of foodgrain but 80 quintals would be taken away by the moneylender. The same is the case with India where we spend 50 per cent of our revenues on imports. Then there are interest payments (on debt), leaving almost nothing," he said.
Natural resources and electronics hold massive potential to create jobs, he noted. "We have done very well in above-ground, in agriculture etc. Now we should concentrate on below ground, tapping minerals and oil and gas resources."
The Modi government should focus on exploiting the vast reserves of iron ore and other metals as well as gold and oil and gas that will help reduce the import bill and create jobs, he said.
Agarwal, the founder and majority-owner of Vedanta Resources, said the government should make public sector companies and banks independent by making them board-run just like British Airways and GE.
"All PSUs and PSBs can perform three times better if autonomy is given to them," he said. "PSUs have huge potential and immense talent pool. But the executives are afraid to take decisions because of fear of inquiries. They should be empowered to take decisions."
Agarwal, whose journey from scrap metal dealer to metals tycoon started in 1979 when he bought a company, said the government should trust entrepreneurs and support their spirit to boost the economy and create jobs.
"I have a feeling that 'satyug' has come (under Modi) where the last deprived person will get attention," he said. "This government is performance oriented and whosoever does a good job will be recognised. All clubs and coteries have been demolished and only performance is what matters."
Characterised by rapid growth and bold deal-making, Agarwal is one of India's most prominent self-made industrialists with his group having interests in sectors ranging from iron ore and copper to oil and gas, with operations across Australia and Zambia, as well as his home country.
He said the government should extend up to Rs 2 lakh micro loans to all Aadhaar card holders under the Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana to boost entrepreneurship.
Also, at least 30 per cent of the population should be encouraged to take up regional arts and sports. Development of all the monuments, forts and beaches should be privatised as it has huge potential to attract tourists, generate revenue and boost employment, he said.
"There are 700 districts and every district has a collector who is very able. They should be the Business Development Managers and develop tourism, industry, mining and manufacturing in their respective districts. They must take policy level decision from Centre and state and no file should be pending for movement and approval," he said.
Besides, 1.8 lakh Anganwadis should be made independent and transformed for development of children and women empowerment, he added.