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Aatmanirbhar mining: Exploring new avenues

Pralhad Joshi

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When India adopted the New Industrial Policy in 1991, we became a part of the liberalised, globalised, and privatised economic world order, and almost all our sectors opened up to healthy competition, new players, and investments. However, India’s mining sector remained locked and unaffected by the new industrial policy. While the New Industrial Policy eventually reduced the number of industries reserved for the public sector to just two (Atomic energy and Railways), the Mining sector still could neither see the inflow of domestic or foreign investments nor was there significant participation and commercial mining as envisioned by the New Industrial Policy. 

The Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation Act (MMDR Act) 1957, which laid down the legal framework for the development and regulation of mines and all minerals, had restrictive mining provisions. The fate of India’s mining sector was unchanged as it remained under the constraints of captive mining and end-use restrictions for decades, with coal blocks allocated on first-cum-first-serve basis. 

As a result, despite having the world’s 4th largest reserve for coal, 5th largest for Mica and Bauxite, and 7th largest reserves for Iron Ore and Manganese, we continue to rely majorly on imports to fulfil our needs. Our reliance on import and sub-standard production for decades indicate policy and regulatory failure of those in power. 

Our government, under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, introduced amendments in the MMDR Act in 2015 and brought the mining industry under a transparent auction regime. Another significant reform brought by the 2015 amendment was establishing the District Mineral Foundation (DMF) for the welfare of mining-affected areas through contributions from the mining leaseholders. With those reformative steps, we did away with the arbitrary allocation of the mineral blocks and introduced a new mining regime that was socially responsible and sustainable. Thus began the series of path-breaking transformations in India’s mining sector. Reform is a continuous process, and for a sector as huge as India’s mining sector, bringing any reform is a process involving many stages, consultations, and considerations. The reforms brought over some time in the last two years were with an aim to accelerate the economic growth and employment generation and combat the adverse impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Based on our experience in the last five years, and suggestions and consultations from multiple stakeholders, our government brought some of the most important structural reforms in the mining sector. Most of the changes brought by amending the Act and corresponding Rules are focused towards ease of doing business in mining. The differentiation between captive and non-captive mines resulted in sub-optimal mining and also created an environmental hazard. The recent mineral reforms have amended the relevant provisions of the MMDR Act to end this distinction. Allowing the lessee to utilise or sell minerals in the open market as per their requirement will help in increasing production and efficiency in the mining industry. Secondly, through these reforms, we aim to free up the unutilised mineral blocks with the government companies, which are non-developed. With this amendment, many mineral blocks will be de-reserved and auctioned by the state governments. Another very significant reform we have brought through the 2021 amendment is ending the legacy issues under section 10(A)(2)(b) of the MMDR Act. This step will place around 500 blocks into the auction regime which are stuck due to pending cases under this section. To become Atmanirbhar in mining, we must bring down our imports and increase our domestic production by bringing substantial improvements in our mining practices and exploration activities.

Our government has repetitively emphasised that our rich mineral wealth forms the backbone of the country, and the core of our industrial, economic, and commercial growth. The global demand for minerals has increased steadily over the last few decades and is likely to grow in response to the exploding demand for the latest technology. Securing the supply of the minerals, to satisfy exponential demand for consumer products, civil engineering, defence, transport, and energy infrastructure among others in a sustainable fashion, has become a major challenge. There is an urgent need to take up exploration in the hitherto unexplored or lesser-explored areas of the country to increase the mineral production in the country for meeting the ever-increasing demand for minerals. 

To boost exploration, our government established the National Mineral Exploration Trust in 2015, and taking this step further we have now made NMET into an autonomous body and allowed accredited private agencies to take up exploration activities through the mining reforms brought this year. The functioning of NMET as an autonomous body will bring a significant increase in exploration in India and make the functioning faster and more vibrant. This will help us accomplish our Obvious Geological Potential and meet international standards in exploration. Another very vital amendment under the 2021 mining reforms is the formation of a new group of minerals called Surficial minerals- consisting of Limestone, Iron Ore, Bauxite, and Coal & Lignite. For this set of minerals, the exploration norms have been further rationalised by bringing the requirements down to G3 level for Mining Lease and G4 level for Composite Lease, making the auction regime easier and facilitating more blocks into the auction. 

These reforms which are mentioned are just the tip of the revolutionary changes brought by the MMDR (Amendment) Act, 2021 and we are seeing very positive developments already taking place in India’s mining industry and all mineral-rich states. The non-operational mines are already in the process of re-allocation by the concerned states, and the mines with PSUs that have not started production to date are also being auctioned by the state governments. The amendments have facilitated bringing a large number of blocks into auction and we have seen an exemplary performance of the mining sector in the current year. Owing to the continuous efforts of the Central government and cooperation of the state governments, it is a matter of pride that 17 blocks have been auctioned, 27 fresh NITs have been issued, and 103 NITs are in pipeline for the coming months.   

Since the beginning of our government under the dynamic leadership of PM Modi, we have always followed the motto of Co-operative federalism and Sabka-Sath, Sabka-Vikas. These reforms are symbolic of the strengthening cooperative federalism between the Centre and the mineral-rich States, which have welcomed the mining reforms with open arms. To address the growing energy needs, and to secure the supply of minerals for the future, India needs to enhance both exploration and production in a sustainable and socially responsible manner. The mining reforms brought by amending the MMDR Act, 1957, the MEMC rules, and Mineral (Auction) Rules are our government’s efforts in this direction. The successful implementation and positive results in auctions we have seen in the past few months is just the beginning of the journey that India is embarking upon with these reforms towards PM Modi’s vision of the Aatmanirbhar Mining Sector and Aatmanirbhar Bharat. 

Pralhad Joshi is Union Minister of Coal, Mines & Parliamentary Affairs. The views expressed are personal.

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NEED FOR FAMILY OFFICES TO WORK TOGETHER UNDER A CO-INVESTMENT STRUCTURE: JAHNAVI KUMARI MEWAR

Jahnavi Kumari Mewar, CEO and Senior Portfolio Manager at Auctus Fora, talks about her business firm along with insights on internationalism, effective global governance practices and the way forward in the post-Covid world.

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Jahnavi Kumari Mewar recently joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation as part of NewsX India A-List. In the exclusive conversation, she spoke to us about her business firm along with insights on internationalism, effective global governance practices and the way forward for the post-Covid world.

Jahnavi commenced her talk by speaking about the creation of Auctus Fora and its uniqueness. She said “Auctus fora was born with a need to work with family offices (preferably) without a fund structure in place. If I take a small step back, I initially worked for JP Morgan from where I decided to set up a boutique investment bank and as that business developed and progressed, I had developed very meaningful relationships with family offices globally. We found that there was a significant need for family offices to work together under a co-investment structure rather than that of a fund. Moving on we decided to set up a co-investment platform, entirety focused on private acuity and private structure credit working with family offices globally. It’s a unique model because we work on the ‘reverse origination methodology’ developed in 2011. We use this methodology to make investment decisions and direct our investment philosophy.”

When asked about how pandemic months have been for her and her firm, she responded “I think based on facts that firstly we are directed to an asset. Secondly, we don’t do listed securities and are a private acuity focused and private structure credit that organically gives you a lot more control over your investment decisions. I am very rigid when it comes to the investment decision making process. For example, we’ll never chase dues or get into a bidding war as I believe that if you get your buying price wrong then you already made a big mistake in terms of capital allocation and investment process. In such disruptive times when others have faced upheavals, we have ramped up because of our decent decision making. Based on that what we have done over the past 15 months is that the assets which we felt will continue to give long term returns and are relatively resilient to the disruptions caused by global pandemic and lockdown, we have reinvested capital or added additional capital into those assets and portfolios. So, at a macro level, we have reinvested capital into our portfolios and at a micro level, into select asset portfolios. I mean not to say that we haven’t felt pain but we have been more resilient.”

Explaining the post-Covid global economic changes, she expressed, “What we are seeing globally is an unprecedented crisis for which a lot of nations have lacked institutional memory because they have never experienced something like this before. In the absence of institutional memory, there is institutional unpreparedness. I think that the responsibility and accountability of this crisis don’t solely sit with the current government because there have been decades of under-investment in the public healthcare infrastructure. Instead, the present government has put concentrated efforts towards formulating new public policies. It is my personal opinion that unfortunately, the government lacks sophistication in its policymaking. Therefore they come across significant opposition to their policies.”

When it comes to changing global supply chains, Jahnavi described “let’s look at global supply chains from both political and economic perspectives. Politically speaking, we have fallen short on collective action and there has been a crisis of global governance. Supply chains and global governance can work hand in hand. A good small scale example is of QUAD members who have been working together and have been multilaterally more effective. So when we talk of re-engineering global supply chains, we have to look at from the perspective that are we going to create an incentivising engagement that affects better global governance practices.”

Lastly speaking about the importance of institutions like QUAD as representative of the changing world over institutions like UN and WHO, she said “QUAD is a great example of a force for global good. WHO has been less effective than QUAD as it has been dispersing contradictory information globally, it along with the UN have failed to garner collective action for a global solution to the pandemic. QUAD is a representation of the way forward. We need to re-engineer a pragmatic form of internationalism which meets the needs for today and future.”

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INDIA-BORN SINGER FEATURES ON UK’S BBC RADIO

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The latest composition of the Indian born, London-based singer Saisha Hayes’s ‘One Way ticket’ was selected by UK’s BBC Radio to be played on its platform on Monday night.

At 20, she is among the youngest singer-songwriters to feature on BBC radio and her song was selected among the pool of well-established names.

BBC Radio 1 Leeds chose Saisha’s composition under the “Best modern Asian fusion music”. While the words of the song have been penned by her, the music has been composed by Rohit (Foenix). The song, sung by Saisha, had earlier featured on the coveted ‘Rolling Stones’ India hitlist.

She is a second-year student of King’s College, London and the granddaughter of Hindi literary giant and former IAS officer Bhagwati Sharan Mishra, who passed away last month.

The song is being played on all major music platforms including Spotify, Amazon Music, and YouTube.

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IT’S TOUGH FOR PLAYERS TO STAY IN A BIO BUBBLE, SAYS MURALI KARTIK

In an exclusive conversation with NewsX India A-List, former cricketer Murali Kartik talks about his lockdown experiences, how he felt being part of the IPL in a bio bubble, and much more.

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Murali Kartik, a former Indian cricketer and a popular figure in commentary, is well-known for his slow left-arm orthodox bowling. Having charmed cricket lovers across the world with his bowling skills, Murali Kartik recently got recognised by NewsX India A-List for excellence in Cricket. Joining us for an exclusive conversation, he spoke about his lockdown experiences, how he felt being part of the IPL in a bio bubble and much more.

Speaking about his emotions and experiences during the second wave of Covid-19, in the wake of which IPL was first postponed and later stopped in middle, Murli said, “Pandemic has been a tough one for everyone but more so for people on the ground. We were actually much protected as a commentary team. With that point of view, we didn’t have many problems but I can imagine teams travelling and engaging in contracts would have been tougher amid the pandemic.”

“Since last year, I got the feeling that as soon as a little bit of unlocking starts people got careless. It is our responsibility to make sure that we don’t go out till the time we aren’t needed to go out. Most important of all is we should all be happy in our homes and not feel entrapped into them. We can only control the controllable,” he added.

When asked about the concept of bio bubble, especially in cricket, which is a contact game, Murali responded, “People in bio bubble is never easy. We need to return to normalcy. We all are missing luxuries of life which are not to go around in expensive restaurants but to simply move around with freedom and without a mask; meet our people without the fear of either contacting with the virus or passing it to someone else. That is the normal luxury. From a sports point of view, it’s tough for players to stay in a bio bubble. There’s a life beyond a sport. Hopefully, we come back to normalcy soon.”

Speaking about what the players have missed out in almost past two years of time is very evident now, he said “Unfortunately, it’s same for everyone. People who had to write exams are unable to do it and are sitting home. For sportspeople, the Olympics has been postponed and rescheduled. So, imagine all the athletes, who worked so hard for it. We come back to the same thing that it’s for everyone. Now it is about mental strength and controlling the controllable. We need to be surrounded by positive people and thinking. We need to look inwardly because the easiest thing in these days is to get despondent.”

When asked about something new or novel he has picked up in the last few days, Murali shared, “To be honest, I have caught up in a lot of sleep these days at home. I am not someone who’ll sleep a lot. I have been the happiest being at home. The only thing I did in my 1st lockdown was to read Sai Suchadutta. I read it six to seven times. I have read books but apart from that I haven’t done any specific thing.”

Concluding the interview on a humorous note, he stated that he has been a couch potato watching many fun OTT programs during the lockdown. He added a funny but profound thing that we teach a dog to sit and stay but we are not able to do it ourselves.

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JUST BE AUTHENTIC AND EVERYTHING WILL FALL INTO PLACE: KARUNESH TALWAR

In an interview with NewsX, stand-up comedian Karunesh Talwar talks about his new show and more.

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Karunesh Talwar, a well-known stand-up comedian, is all set to entertain the audiences with his stand-up special on Amazon Prime Video. Recognised for excellence in entertainment, Karunesh recently joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation as part of the NewsX India A-List series. He spoke about his new show on Amazon Prime, the idea behind the name of the show, principles of stand-up comedy and much more.

Speaking about how he and the team happened to name the show ‘Aalas, Motapa, Ghabraahat’, Karunesh shared, “The name is part of joke punch line from the show itself. I had written the whole show, we shot it and while we were editing it, I was sitting with the show’s director and editor who suggested me to give the name ‘Aalas Motapa Ghabraahat’.” He added, “The first half of the show is about my parents and the other half is about my relationship with my girlfriend.”

Emphasising the relevance of these three words: Aalas, Motapa, and Ghabraahat, especially amid the pandemic, Karunesh said, “This happened subconsciously as I wrote this show during the pandemic. Also, it comes from the attempt to tell my story, which has to be really authentic and unique on stage. So these three words can describe a lot of people’s experiences during the pandemic.” On being asked to give three words to describe his last one and a half years, he jokingly said, “Aalas, Motapa, Ghabraahat. Apart from that, I think it would be lucky, motivated, and more anxious.”

When asked what makes this show different from others, he responded, “Usually you write material about certain subjects that is about eight to nine minutes per subject covering about six to seven subjects over an hour show. Here, I had only two topics. I think it is a lot more in storytelling format and in long-form. That’s not what I have attempted before. It is much more personal and vulnerable than anything I have ever done before as it reveals aspects to my personality, which people who watch my content wouldn’t have been revealed to before.”

Karunesh is hopeful that it is the sign of more things like this coming from him in the future. He expressed, “One of the principles of live stand-up comedy is that if you are authentically telling your story, then you are the only one selling it and you are the only supplier of that particular kind of comedy. So, people will always buy it from you. You’ll also never run out of material because you are being authentic and not pretending up there.”

Talking about the public response on his last Amazon Prime show’s interesting title—‘Pata Nahi Par Bolna Hai’, Karunesh said, “The response was overwhelming and I got a lot of positive feedback. The fact that I am doing another show with Amazon Prime means that the last response was good. The title of that show came about because it was about a lot of people and me at the same time.”

When asked if his family and friends call him to share some light moments in otherwise heavy days, he expressed, “I think people often have a perception that comedians are hilarious and people around them are constantly laughing. No, they are constantly irritated by our existence. They haven’t called me for light moments but definitely, the advantage is to learn about therapy and how to balance mental health better.”

Sharing his takeaway from the pandemic, Karunesh said, “To be honest, I am extremely fortunate that my career picked up at the time it did. It allowed me to access work and resources that kept me tied in these unprecedented times. This allowed me to work on myself. It gave me time to introspect, write more material, and explore new avenues in my work. This is the reason why this new show is different from the kind of work I have done before.”

On a parting note, Karunesh shared a piece of advice for aspiring comedians and said, “Delayed gratification always beats instant gratification. If you have a funny thought, don’t put it out instantly instead work on it for about six months to one year. It will give you unimaginable success and opportunities. Respect your audience, be authentic, and write and perform as much as you can.”

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We never ever tell stories of women’s rights to her own body: Seema Anand

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Seema Anand, Author and Mythologist, recently joined NewsX for an exclusive conversation as part of NewsX Influencer A-List. During the chat, she opened up about her experience of writing her book ‘The Art Of Seduction’, interest in this particular field and much more. Read excerpts:

 Speaking about her interest in this particular field and how you came about writing her book ‘The Art Of Seduction’, Seema said, “It actually began with the idea of looking for stories, so I am a storyteller by profession. I believe that stories that we tell define who we are. They actually create our identity. You know the kind of stories that we tell, if you tell stories about how if a man comes home, he is drunk he beats up his wife ,but she is so good that she never says anything to him. “Then you create the identity of a good woman as somebody who will never stand up for herself”, and to me, it’s always been a fascinating subject. As I explored these stories, I realised we never ever tell stories of women’s rights to her own body. That’s always somebody else’s property and i decided to try and see what it is that we had shut down or what is the stories that we had silenced. That led me to the kamashastras. As you know, there are hundreds of kamasutras, not just the one kamasutra. You know what, i had actually thought it was part of my studies. I thought I’ll do a paper on it. I’ll move on. I started this about 18 year ago. All i can tell you is that it is the most fascinating subject that i have ever come across because the Indian Kamashastras are the most exquisite books on erotic passion in the world and they’re so unexplored, untranslated. When i say untranslated, i don’t just mean about translating word to word, i mean about the metaphors, what they actually mentioned and what they talk about. I has become life’s mission now for me to discuss it, but what really draws me to them more and more is the emphasis that they put on a woman’s pleasure. The emphasis that they put on the divinity and the beauty around sexuality, which is so different to the world that we live in right now. It just makes me want to explore it more and see what it is that our ancient wisdom taught us that we see lost in this twilight zone that we live in today.”

 When asked how is she using her platform on social media to spread the word on, not only sexual liberation and talking up about your sexuality, but also saying that Indian culture has such a rich understanding of what sexuality is and it can be much more than vulgar, she responded, “You know its just the case , it’s anytime you have to change a story you have to do it one tiny little bit at a time. I think sex education is extremely important. I know that a lot of people in india believe that if you teach sexual education in school then it’s giving kids a license to go up and do things but actually it’s making them aware of what’s going on so that they don’t go up and do things they become more sensible or more careful or more intelligent around sexuality. It’s a very important part of our life to be intelligent and to understand sexuality, but yes coming back to question about how our culture or our background plays into it, what i find in all sex education classes is its very clinical. It’s literally being taught as the anatomy. This is this part is anatomy. This is what happens at penetration. We keep saying that sexuality and intimacy is not necessarily about penetration , that’s one act in that entire world of pleasure out there. To me, i really want to bring back the idea of pleasure as a thing of beauty and refinement, which is what the kamasutra was trying to teach. As thing of refinement, as an thing that intrinsically includes emotion, i think that’s where we are lacking. When we teach sex education or when we talk about sexuality. You know the problem is like you said it’s so taboo that in just trying to break those taboo most of us are just trying to say okay, let’s normalise the conversation. Let’s just get out there and talk about it so that it’s not hush hush and it’s not so pushed under a carpet. Most people are just literally trying to find that first battle and yeah I guess my battle has always been slightly different because as I was telling you earlier I didn’t actually start off by doing this on social media. I’ve been doing this work for so long. I just want to bring back people to the idea that there is beauty and refinement and culture around it. It’s not that one act of penetration that surrounds it, there’s so much more to it.”

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I tried to create a conversation around sexuality: Leeza Mangaldas

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Leeza Mangaldas, Sex Positive Content Creator recently joined NewsX for an insightful conversation as part of NewsX Influencer A-List. In the exclusive conversation, Leeza opened up about the content she creates on Instagram, the kind of conversations she has been having on social media and how she has been helping youngsters get relevant information about sex.

When asked about the content that she is creating on Instagram, Leeza said, “I tried to create a conversation around sexuality, sexual health, gender, the body, identity. My hope is that this can help in normalise these conversations because sex remains so stigmatised for discussion. Most young people don’t receive information. It is a normal part of life. It’s something we deserve, i.e accurate judgement about sex. The fact that most people have a smartphone now, the internet allows us to access the stuff from the comfort of our homes and privacy from our headphones and phone. It’s really lensed. I also think that young people use social media so much , I mean people don’t put the phone down. They took it even in the bathroom. So, if you want to connect to young people, social media seems like a great way to do it, but it’s so important to me to have conversation. A typical attitude to sex education is like lets teach people how not to have negative experiences. ‘Ok, so it’s very don’t do this, don’t do that and kind of fear-based approach. If you have sex, you will get pregnant. If you have sex, you will get an STD. Ohh it really really bad that if you sex you will be punished and if you done something wrong or evil,’ This kind of the messaging is there. Any official messaging intended is laced with judgement and punishment. All of this type of language, absence base, fear based or i mean, even when it is well meaning it’s like does or not to get an std or not to get pregnant. Nobody is focusing on pleasure. Nobody knows how we can have the best experience, it’s just talking about how we can not have a bad experience. You know what i mean. I wanted that shift where we talk about sex and its normal, important and wonderful thing, rather than scary bad thing.”

Talking about the topics she has been addressing via her videos, she said, “I try to also allow for audience questions to dictate the topics i choose. I got a lot of questions repeatedly around on certain thighs and addressed them. I think many people, have a lot of issues about body image. Like you know questions around penis size, questions around boobs size, questions around like why is the skin of vagina is darker than the rest of body or lots of question around first sexual experience. I have created a lot of content type of trying to provide help for full information what you should know before you have sex. You know consent is a subject that is important to me, talking also about stuff like arousals, desires and being in contact with your own body and pleasure and understanding that you can communicate better because I think communication is central to sexual experiences.”

Speaking about where she an draws a line between helping younger people to get relevant information about sex and drawing line with what is the legal age to have sex, she said, “The age of consent was vary from country to country and changed over time and it’s a really tricky area without easy answers in terms of age of consent of what is legal to begin having sex. In India, it is 18 but there was a time when it was something around 12 here. If you know, a child marriage is a part of how things operated in your grandparents’ generations. In other countries, it’s 16 and in some countries it’s still even younger than that. So, how old is appropriate or not appropriate 16, 17, 18 ,20. This is a question that doesn’t have an easy answer and it’s not up to me to decide. I’m also a citizen abiding by the laws, so of course, I maintain the age of consent. In India, it is 18 but i think the information, the education is something has to start earlier and have to start when the child is learning the first word or when he learns the body parts. For example, you are teaching him this is your eyes, your nose, you are teaching them the words to think and why is it that we never teach them the correct names of vagina, instead we say something either name like shame shame. You’re getting it, in such an age, this is shameful. So, of course, you should be appropriate but not for one-time conversation, which you have with a young person. These are opportunities to normalise education around sexuality, body, sexual health, all through childhood, because it’s usually the age 6 or seven somebody will ask mom, where do babies come from how would i get here or if you are expecting another sibling like how would it get in your stomach? Are you going to tell them that a bird dropped it or you found it in the dustbin? Why lie to the child? After there are picture books that simplify an explanation or consumptions and pregnancy, seeing things. When your adult teaches a child to get on her first periods, don’t you think they owe an explanation.”

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