It’s been my oft repeated theme that privatisation hasn’t been good for the nation. Let’s see that in perspective and perhaps clear my own doubts too. I don’t claim to be an economist and this is based on my observations. I maybe wrong but then the idea is to stimulate a debate.
The goal of private sector is to challange the established natural monopolies. This is hoped that it would lead to better customer service or outreach. However, the fact remains that overall control should remain with the Government which should create a conducive atmosphere for the businesses. The reason for the control is that Governments are answerable to the people and it’s these institutions that are proxy ruled by people power.
This is an idealised scenario. Coming to telecom, this is one of the most crucial sectors of any nation. Be it war or peace, we need to have the public control over the assets. While in theory it does sound good to have investments flowing in, fact remains that the vested interests of the multinationals are detrimental to the nation’s interests. A glaring example is that of the manufacturing telecom equipment. I have already mentioned earlier that Indian industry could have been incubated, though we chose to rely on foreign manufacturers. We got in the outside network, spent our foreign exchange, spend money to pay them for after sales and royalties for using their standards (as for Qualacomm).
For me, it’s the national interest that comes in first. As I had pointed out, South Korea acted in it’s own national interest. Now, it is a world leader in broadband connectivity.
In any case, name any instance where the entry of private players has lead to better services. It’s TRAI’s own surveys that claim the level of congestion in services. I see the newspapers everyday which has scores of people complaining about their service provider. Many people who swear by billing hassles because their bills don’t just add up to their usage patterns. Worst, these people aren’t accountable because the regulator isn’t affective.
In this scenario,privatisation is mandated only if there are proper mechanisms in place.
What is the way out? Is privatisation the panacea for all ills? The answer is emphatic no. Yet, we must all speak out in one voice to make the institutions accountable. I am sick and tired of their double speak. At times, when I read that Broadband prices are one of the lowest in the world, I feel like wringing the writer’s neck. Nothing flames me up than spreading canards and lies.
It’s the industry associations, by way of money power speak out through media. Huge ad spends means that these “leaders of tomorrow” have the papermen chase them to their toilets and sign up endorsements. Where is the freedom of press?The worst off when they claim to keep the consumer interest tantamount though their actions are to the contrary.
Keeping all these factors in mind, we ought to be self reliant and force these companies to invest in the human capital in this nation. Importing is not wrong but not in the long term. As I had mentioned before, it was Space programme that has made us a viable aspirational superpower. I was reading about the world class Brahmos missile, that has been made in collaboration with Russians. Something that is far superior to anything in the world at present. We can do it but we need to pull ourselves out of the muck created by mini fiefdoms.
Democracy can rule only if the “powers that be” are made accountable. This blog is little step in that direction. I cannot do it all alone but need your help to make it possible.