PM Modi’s Make in India slogan surely looks like a great initiative and provokes a thought process in people to act on it. However, it sounds more like the roar of a Lion without teeth. By all means agree to what Bhupender Chaubey wrote in his recent article about the current predicament. Whilst Make in India has attracted attention both in India and globally, but the question is whether our government has laid concrete plans to remove bureaucratic and administrative hurdles that have for long held back our industrial prowess? Case in point is the energy sector, the bedrock of any developed and industrialized nation. Government does not seem to have given much attention to making India self-reliant in energy resources.
It is a no brainier that to be a superpower that we aspire to be, it is important to be self –reliant in energy or reduce our dependence on imports as much as possible. It would be tough for PM Modi to fulfill his promises if the energy policy is not set right. Even the CAG has made a call to speed up the decisions on oil and gas, giving precedence to the result over the processes. Oil imports on their own account for 30 per cent of all imports with subsidies impacting deficits. The center can’t keep vacillating on this front. Luckily, the global crude oil prices are down right now. But imagine what were to happen if the crisis, which is never ending in the Middle East, was to escalate? The best way to insulate ourselves from any such scenario is to invest in our own capabilities of production and exploration of natural resources.
And not just for industrial growth, energy self-reliance is also important to ensure that the fruits of development are percolated deep down to the most downtrodden and backward. As Bhupinder Chaubey rightly mentions that even the remotest village in Palamu district of Jharkhand should be illuminated with electricity
If the Government is expecting investment by the private sector in the high risk oil & gas sector with the existing arcane laws, regulations and processes, it is expecting too much. So, to attract private capital, the government has to lay out proper policies which will ensure a balance of risk and reward. Of course, if a transparent and mutually beneficial partnership thrives between the government and the private players, one could perhaps be looking at a success story. Till yesterday, the reality was that government was only interested in extracting maximum revenue from private players. However, given the risk undertaken by oil companies and the huge investment brought by them, despite the uncertainty of finding oil/gas, government must decide whether it wishes to support the private companies through favorable and consistent policies- more so at the initial stage – or risk losing out in the race for energy security.