“Agar himmate mardaan, madade khuda.”
If you have courage, God will help you. That’s the advice Anil Agarwal wants to give to all entrepreneurs.
Agarwal built the energy and metals conglomerate Vedanta Resources, parent of Vedanta Ltd, from scrap, literally. He now wants to motivate others to build their business and has taken to social media to tell his story.
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“I am doing this to inspire people, mainly young people. There's no country like India in the world. India is a sweet spot. Today, people are looking for an alternative to China. People don't like China as much, and they definitely prefer India. So, I want to inspire people to use this opportunity,” Agarwal said in an exclusive interview to Moneycontrol.
In his social media posts, he has been sharing his personal journey from Patna to London, the highs of a win in business and the lows too.
“My stories are to inspire people and to tell them that please don't get disheartened with failure. Failure is a ladder for your success,” Agarwal says.
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Sitting in his posh penthouse Colaba, a stone's throw from Mumbai’s landmark Gateway of India, he is transported to Patna where he was born and grew while reminiscing his journey.
He says, “Chaudah saal ki umar tak, maine kabhi joote pahane hi nahi. Hawai chappal pe raha. Chalees degree mai, hum log school se wapas aate the, 5 mile chalke.” (I had not worn shoes till the age of 14; I only wore slippers. We walked home, wearing our slippers, for five miles in the heat of 40 degrees.)
Incidentally, he studied at Patna’s Miller School (now Devipad Choudhary Shaheed Smarak School) was named after the Chief Justice of Patna High Court Thomas Frederic Dawson Miller who was from the United Kingdom, a country Agarwal now calls his second home.
“Ma 400 rupaya mei maa kaam chalati thi, bahut pyar karti thi…Ye sab story jab logon ko batayenge toh unko courage milega (My mother managed the house on an income of Rs 400; loved me a lot. When I share stories of my journey, people will get courage),” Agarwal said.
He is upbeat about the thriving start-up culture in India. “Earlier, there was a club, where you can’t enter into this business. But now with digital, it’s all up to you. You can go wherever you want. There is so much happening in social media, startups, and FinTech. India is the largest place for startups and young people,” he says.
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He also feels that easing policies in core sectors like mining and oil exploration can attract start-ups in the sector and help India boost production to achieve energy security.
In business, his goal now is to not just grow Vedanta to be a $50-billion company, but also to encourage other businesses.
“I'm looking at the bigger picture– how can I reduce the import of India. I'm the only person who wants to create more competition. I want 10 more companies,” said Agarwal.
Personally, he hopes to build his group into a management-run institution and withdraw from day-to-day affairs to devote more time to his philanthropic pursuits.
“I am definitely looking to have a mission to work for women and children. ‘Nand Ghar’ project is my mission. Of my wealth, 75 percent will go for charitable purposes. I am looking forward to building the largest charitable fund for women and children in India and some parts of Africa. I want to empower women and make every child ready for the future. I want to make sure they are not malnutritioned and have access to digital education. These children should have sanskar. Ham jhoot nahi bolte hai, hamare mei darr nahi hai (We don’t lie, so we are fearless.),” said Agarwal.