In search of inclusive growth

The burning issue
Growing insurgency from Maoists has put up a serious challenge for steel and mining companies planning to expand their operations in India. The country is heavily banking on these sectors to support its economic growth. Major companies such as Tata Steel, JSW Steel, Posco, ArcelorMittal, NMDC and Vedanta Aluminum besides others have ambitious expansion plans in mineral-rich states like Chhattisgarh, Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, Orissa, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. But the growing incident of violent attacks in the recent past has jeopardized their plans. The land acquisition process has also become very complex in India which further aggravates the problem. According to some estimation, delays in approvals for land and mine have stalled more than US$80 billion worth of projects in India that would double steel output.
The government seems to have not been able to address this problem properly that has accumulated over the period of last several decades.

Interestingly, Maoists enjoy strong sympathy from a large section of intellectuals in India. They argue that these people who are mainly tribal have been living in marginalized condition for many years without much of the developments reaching to them. They are not willing to vacate these mineral-rich locations, fearing this will uproot them from their homeland. On the other hand, government says they want to bring the tribals and affected villagers into main stream by rehabilitating them. Sadly, India has a very poor record when it comes to implementing welfare schemes.
The government has very difficult challenge ahead as it looks divided over how to deal with this problem. Many feel the use of arm against these tribals who are part of this country will have serious repercussions in the long run. But there is another section of people who feel violence should be dealt with counter-violence. In between, the price is being paid by ordinary people and the companies who want to put up their plants there.
It’s time for government and other political parties to create consensus among themselves to address the issue seriously. Understandably, such long dragging problem cannot be resolved overnight but the government should draw a road map keeping in mind the interests of all. India needs growth. And steel and coal sectors - besides other mineral driven industries - are going to play a key role here. The government has to make sure these industries grow fearlessly so India could become self reliant. But at the same time it has to ensure that it achieves inclusive growth and that this growth does not come at the cost of shedding blood of its own people.