PM Modi warns of new colonialism model over control of critical minerals

Addressing the B20 Summit here, PM Modi noted that that critical and rare earth minerals are the need of the entire world but are unevenly distributed, with some countries having large quantum of these minerals while some others do not have these minerals at all.

“There is abundance of rare earths, or critical minerals in some places, while there is deficiency in some places but the entire humanity needs it. If those having it do not see it as their global responsibility, it will strengthen a new model of colonialism. I am giving a serious warning,” he said in a bilingual address to the global business community.

The statement gains significance as the global hunt for critical and rare earth minerals has gained momentum in the past few years given their increasing requirement in several sectors including renewable energy, energy storage, telecommunications, defence and healthcare.

In June this year, India became a member of the coveted critical minerals club – the Mineral Security Partnership. The announcement was part of a joint statement by prime minister Modi and president Joe Biden during the former’s recent US visit. The Partnership is a strategic grouping of 13 member states including Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Sweden, the UK, the US, the European Union, Italy and India. It aims to catalyze public and private investment in critical mineral supply chains globally including rare earth minerals.

Stressing on the need to give equal significance to consumers and consuming nations, he said that a profitable market can be sustained only when there is balance between the interests of producers and consumers.

“It also applies to nations. Treating other countries only as a market will never work. It will harm even the producing countries sooner or later. Making everyone equal partner in progress is the way forward.”

Modi said that the Covid-19 pandemic destroyed conventional global supply chains and India has emerged as a significant player for a new, trusted and efficient global supply chain.

“Can we call a supply chain efficient which breaks down when the world needs it most? I can assure you, India is the answer to this problem. Its answer is India. India has a key place in building an efficient and trusted global supply chain,” Modi said, adding that collective work is needed on this front.

The projection of India as a key player in the global supply chain comes as several global manufacturing companies have been looking at shifting their base out of China post the pandemic and amid geopolitical concerns. The union government too has been announcing measure to boost the manufacturing sector in the country and wooing global investors.

He noted that over 13.5 crore people have come out of poverty trap in the past five years and termed this population as the “neo-middle class”. He was of the view that these people who have emerged out of poverty are providing the momentum to the country’s growth.

“Those coming out of poverty, the neo middle class, I consider that they are the biggest consumer because they come with new aspirations. The neo-middle class is giving momentum to India’s growth…As the middle class’ purchasing power increases, that will have a big impact on businesses,” Modi said.

A recent Niti Aayog report titled ‘National Multidimensional Poverty Index: A Progress Review 2023’ which showed that an estimated 135 million (13.5 crore) Indians exited multidimensional poverty between 2015-16 and 2019-21. Multidimensional poverty is a composite measure that counts factors beyond money, including education, health, and living standards.

Talking of the recent success of Chandrayaan-3 moon mission he said that it is a success of both science and industry. Many Indian businesses and MSMEs contributed components for the project, he said, describing the mission as “a responsible space programme” which seeks to bring sustainability and equality.

“It is about responsibility, acceleration, innovation, sustainability and equality and it is about humanity. It is about one earth, one family, one future,” he said

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Updated: 27 Aug 2023, 02:45 PM IST

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