Given that even non-oil minerals account for 30% of the country\u2019s total import bill\u2014and around 55% if oil is included\u2014Niti Aayog has done well to propose that the government adopt a new mineral exploration strategy in order to encourage local exploration and production. The Niti Aayog strategy paper on minerals points out, India\u2019s \u201cprospective geology is broadly similar to that of Western Australia, especially in relation to iron ore, bauxite, coal, diamonds and heavy mineral sand\u201d, but of the area identified as rich in minerals, only 10% has been\u2014the corresponding figure for Australia is 95%\u2014and an even smaller 1.5% is presently being mined. According to Niti Aayog, even doubling the area explored to 20% of \u2018obvious geological potential\u2019 can create an additional 5 million jobs by 2022-23, from the current 10 million. Indeed, Niti Aayog points out that India\u2019s imports of minerals are roughly seven times as high as the domestic output; such is the poor level of exploration and production. It is to fix this that Niti Aayog suggests a better minerals exploration and licencing policy and fixing of the exceptionally high taxes\/royalties\/levies\u2014while these add up to around 65%, the global maximum seems to be in the region of 40%. Equally important, ways have to be found to ensure that all necessary permissions are granted at the earliest. While Niti Aayog recommends that all statutory approvals should mandatorily be granted within a period of 180 days; it suggests that, if this is not given, a provision for a deemed-to-have-been-given approval be put in place in the law; it also suggests that local forest officers may be empowered to grant permission under the forests law for exploration in forest areas. To put this in perspective, environmental clearances take up to even 390 days to get, and it was found in the case of the government-owned Coal India\u2014which has been fined `40,000 crore already for illegal mining\u2014that it was routine practice for the government to give environment clearances late and then retrospectively condone the mining that was illegal since it took place without the environmental clearances. The fact that a PSU, which has no reason to damage the environment for profits\u2014in the way the private sector is accused of doing\u2014tells you just how serious the problem with India\u2019s regulatory system is. While the government can certainly help reduce the mandatory levies\u2014iron ore royalties in India are 30% (15% for new miners) versus 6.5-7.5% in Australia and 2% in Brazil\u2014it can also play a big role in ensuring local communities are less hostile when it comes to mining companies. Certainly, if more stringent 24x7 checks were kept on the quality of mining\u2014using drones and satellite imagery make this easier\u2014local communities would not feel their lands were being destroyed and valuable forest cover removed. Indeed, the Supreme Court has pulled up the government for not spending `90,000 crore of the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) fund; had enough forestry been done on time, the local population would be less averse to fresh mining. Also, around three-fourths of money that states got via the District Mineral Foundation\u2014DMF funds are meant to be used to benefit local people affected by mining activity\u2014have not been spent, making it clear that it is not just the Central government that is not doing its job. With such a massive failure to monetise the country\u2019s assets, is it any wonder that the current account deficit mostly looks like it is about to swing out of control?