Anil Agarwal, the founder and Chairman of Vedanta Resources Plc, in an exclusive interview with Anil Singhvi, the Managing Editor of Zee Business, said the banking system is doing fine and will definitely issue loans to serious people who really mean business. He also added, the rules and regulations are tightened to rectify mistakes but it doesn’t mean that banks will not issue loans for good projects. Here are edited excerpts from the interview:
Q: It seems that after the Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) issue arose, the government is planning to tighten almost every rule and regulation. It is in no mood to differentiate between delays and defaults. The circulation issued in February 2018, talks of tightening regulations. What will be the impact? And how do you see it panning out?
A: This is a regular activity of the government and this time it is being done to tighten the noose that was created due to NPAs. But, there will be no shortage of money for good work. He added, there is no shortage of money in the market and no good proposal will die. Even I am ready to provide equity (funds) for such proposals and I have kept Rs 5,000 crore aside for this purpose. In fact, I am in talks with the NITI Aayog and have asked it to come up with a mechanism to provide equity (funds) to school-college pass-outs, with good ideas, to establish their own business.
Q: You have been in the business for past 50 years. In all these years, you would have seen many situations where the lenders feared to lend or where loan seekers face problems. But today, there is a situation where both sides are scared. One is thinking that should they approach the bank or not and the other side, the banks, feel whether they should sanction loans or not. Can you suggest a solution to this problem?
A: I have never faced such a situation. I am an ordinary person, who has been laden with ample amount of money, that to in a foreign land. In recent past (on a Friday), I decided to bid for the Essar Steel but needed to have a commitment of Rs 35-40,000 crore in the bank. To try my luck, I just gave a phone call and Rs 60,000 crores was available in my account. This action doesn’t allow me to believe in the talks that the banks are not working or there is a shortage of money. See, almost everyone is scared, but money is available, at least for those, who really mean business and are here for business.
Q: What is your opinion on One Nation, One Election, a campaign that is being talked about in India at present?
A: This happens across the world. I am not an expert in this field but would like to say that implementation of the scheme will definitely be beneficial for the nation.
Whatever is being said is a good thing because I believe, waste everything but don’t waste time. Why waste this amount of time in elections? Allow a party to work continuously for 5 years so that it takes the country ahead.
Q: This question is related to your professional life. Is there something big that you are planning to do on business front?
A: I want to produce 50 per cent oil of India. In addition, I also want to scale up production of certain things like Aluminum (to scale up to 30 lakh tonnes); Copper (to scale up to 10 lakh tonnes); Zinc (to scale up to 20 lakh tonnes); Silver ( 1000 tonnes) and Iron Ore (to scale up to 5 crore tonnes) among others. Along with that, at least 1000 industries to process it by the youngsters, so that they turn up themselves from job seekers to job providers.
Q: This question is related to your personal life. I have seen that you have decided to donate 75 per cent of your property for some good work. How did it come to you?
A: See, if you feel that by catching the handle of an object you will be able to protect it, then you are wrong. In the end, you will only have the possession of the handle, but remaining part of the subject will be lost. Don’t catch the handles.
In fact, I want to create an institution out of my company, the Vedanta. It is not a banyan tree of my family. It is an institution of India and will be managed professionally.
When it comes to my family, then I would like to say that I am responsible for them and ask them to do something new and scale it up.
Q: Most of the time you reside in London but it seems that your heart remains in India, especially in Bihar.
A: I am a pure Bihari and would love to do something for the land. I owe to the state and will try to give something to it. During my recent meet with Nitin Gadkari, the minister of Shipping and Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, I was asked to take the charge of cleaning River Ganga in Patna and I said yes to the proposal. In fact, I would love to do anything that is connected with Patna or Bihar.
Q: In the midst of dealing with such large businesses and a schedule that keeps you busy criss-crossing numerous places and countries, how do you take out time for two things; first is the family and the second is God? I know that there is no day on which you don’t go to the temple.
A: The family, a daughter, a son, a wife and a granddaughter, are directly connected to me. I enjoy living with them and the best part of our family is that our heart remains together.
When it comes to God, then I would like to say that I will not do any work that goes against His will. I visit temples during my morning walks to thank him for everything.
Q: As a youth, you had a hobby of going for films, that too to watch the first-day, first show. Do you still follow that routine? If yes, who is your favourite movie star at present?
A: Yes. I am a big fan of Hindi films. When it comes to favourite movie stars than it keeps changing with time. Amitabh Bachchan has been a favourite of almost every one. Shah Rukh Khan is a good friend of mine. Deepika is also a good actor and I like the way she acts. In recent past, while seeing her latest film, I thought that the film will perform like Mughal-e-Azam.
Anil Agarwal signed off by saying that he has taken a pledge in which at least 50 crore children of India up to an age of 7 years will get an access to nutritional food and basic education. He said, “I would like to donate my remaining life for that purpose.”