Government should not approve Unitech’s deal.

I read in Mint today that the telecom ministry came out with a press release to respond to the flak it is facing for selling spectrum so cheap. I believe there is an attempt to cover up a planned effort to favour a group of companies. Since none of the ministers like the finance ministers are saying anything, it means that they all knew what was going on. How it is possible that a number opf people applied just before the government decided to allot spectrum on first come first serve basis and that too at 2001 prices. I also cannot believe that this scam has happened without the UPA government knowing about it. If Minister Raja has done this without the other people in the cabinet knowing about then it is a fit case for Minister Raja to be sacked. This clearly suggests that he is incapable of handling the complex issue of the spectrum and where government assets which huge value is involved.

An article on the subject in Business Standard suggests states that the government will levy a one-time charge for spectrum above 6.2 MHz. The most interesting part is that Unitech and Swan, who have made billions without even starting the business, will not have to pay the one time charge as they do have any subscribers. How considerate? Guess who decided this? Finance Minister P Chidabaram, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Telecom Minister Raja.

I am also surprised that nobody has talked about the eligibilty criteria. Majority of the companies do not have the money to invest in this business and still they were given the licence. There can be no logical reason for Swan and Unitech to make so much money instead of the government. Government should reject the sale on some grounds or the other and then change the rules. Let the companies who have been given licence start the business on their own otherwise let them give back the licence. In the case of Unitech, the grounds are also clear, that is, security. How can the government allow a company operating in the telecom space in Pakistan be allowed to operate in India. As we are all aware, mobile phones are involved in most of the bomb blasts.

I as a common man know that the government can find fault with any application for anything. Lets bring our babus in the picture and let them ensure that the deal does not go through. I know that the babus can do it. We suffer because of the system of our government everyday. This would be one time when the system would work for the people of this country. As they say in Hindi films, “Loha hi Loha to kat ta hai.”

I am sure the deal cannot go through without the government’s consent. So lets stop it.

By the way, Mint has been very late in writing on this matter. Its a shame that most of the major business papers took their time in writing about it. Also, the article does not address all the issue. Further, this news is not Page 23 news as that is where the write-up appears. As I mentioned in my earlier blog, his is front page news with a heading “Rs. 40,000 crore scam. Govt. sells cheap spectrum. Unitech hits the Jackpot.” I think Mint should have done what I suggested that Economic Times should have done. They should have used the front page of their newspaper and printed the above headline in reverse on black signifying the sad day in our country when such scams can take place in broad daylight. Such a step will force the government to disallow the sale and deterred our industrialists and politicians from coming up with such stupid ideas. I am sure that such an advt would have woken up a lot of people as well as the political parties.

However, I am surprised that none of the political parties have raised a hue and cry. Where is BJP and CPM? Hey guys it time to wake up. You will not find a better issue to fight the Congress in the coming elections.

avinash narula

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