Raja is rational and fair, Tata writes to DMK chief

Discussion in 'Politics & Society' started by ejazr, Dec 5, 2010.

  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    http://www.indianexpress.com/news/raja-is-rational-and-fair-tata-writes-to-dmk-chief/248496/0

    In the midst of the spectrum controversy, Union communications and IT minister A Raja has found an ally in Ratan Tata, chairman of the Tata Group. In a handwritten letter to Tamil Nadu chief minister and DMK leader M Karunanidhi, Tata has praised Raja’s “rational, fair and action-oriented” leadership. He even said the current controversy was created due to vested interests. One of Tata’s trusted executives personally delivered the letter to Karunanidhi.

    It may be recalled that Raja’s predecessor, Dayanidhi Maran, was charged with attempting to arm-twist the Tata Group to give an equity share in its direct-to-home (DTH) television venture to the Sun TV group — owned by Maran’s brother, Kalanidhi Maran. This also became an election issue in Tamil Nadu last year. Tata Teleservices, a Tata Group company, is a national CDMA telecom service provider.

    “On the issue of spectrum, his stated policies, for the most part, have been legally sound, rational and well-reasoned. Part of the existing controversy revolves around one approval, which is being contested in the courts. In all other cases, his stated policies appear fair and he deserves everyone’s support,” wrote Tata. “It is essential that history praises the vision, creativity and high growth achieved by you and your minister. Our industry is in the viewing glare of the entire world. If done well, the DMK can possibly claim telecom to be its greatest achievement and most significant contribution to the nation’s growth,” according to Tata.

    Blaming vested interests for creating the current controversy, Tata wrote, “This growth would need to come from rational and fair policies — without favourites and without pandering to vested interest groups who are only interested in themselves.”

    “I have the highest regard and respect for you as a person of great equity and great vision. I would like to see you derive great kudos for the visionary growth of the sector, which I believe can be delivered under your leadership by Raja,” Tata wrote. He sent his trusted executive to personally carry this letter and explain “the public perceptions, the orchestrated misinformation and the vested interests that are seeking to de-rail the process of growth through technological and spectrum battles, rather than seeking national gain.”

    The present controversy between CDMA and GSM players started when the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) allowed mobile service providers to expand their networks using alternate technologies. This implies that operators using CDMA technology for offering mobile services can provide GSM-based mobile services and vice-versa.

    Another contentious issue between CDMA and GSM operators is a recommendation by telecom regulator Trai saying that the number of subscribers required by an operator for being eligible for additional spectrum should be increased. This was accepted by DoT. When GSM players opposed it, DoT set up a committee under the Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC), which is responsible for fixing standards, to give the final recommendations on spectrum allocation criteria. On October 31, the committee submitted its report to DoT, recommending more stringent conditions than those proposed by Trai. Now, DoT has set up another committee to review the subscriber criteria for allocation of spectrum.
     
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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    What is the Truth?

    If Raja was pure, then why was he made to resign?

    And now, it is said that Veerappa Moily of the infamous Moily Tapes, had actually, as a Law Minister, endorsed Raja's contention.

    Why is Moily's head also not rolling?
     
  4. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    I personally can't see why Raja is NOT wrong on the 2G issue. What surprises me is why Ratan Tata is wading on his side here.
     
  5. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    I remember some time back probably two years ago when mobile operators were looking for additional spectrum and there was no policy on it and it was not being sold properly, it was Ratan Tata who came forward and said it should be charged a premium so that precious bandwidth is not wasted in case it came free. They later announced that they were ready to pay about 1500 cr for what the additional spectrum they required.
     
  6. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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  7. sob

    sob Moderator Moderator

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    There is much more to it than meets the eye. We have to remember that a project from Tata Group for Titanium Oxide in TN is on hold on environmental issues.

    You scratch my back and i will scratch yours.
     
  8. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    The Silence of the Lambs- Tehelka.com

    Ratan Tata’s Supreme Court petition on the Niira Radia tapes could muzzle India

    THE DIZZYING events of the last two weeks have demanded a grave degree of mirrorgazing from many sections of Indian society. No section in the queue ought to have found a pleasing picture. Much has already been said about the fungal state of Indian media. A little has been said about the venality of our politicians, bureaucrats and pockets of the judiciary. But unfortunately, almost nothing has been said about the big elephant in the room: corporate conduct.

    It’s dismaying then that, going by Ratan Tata’s public stances, it would seem this section is still viewing itself through an uncritically golden gauze. Tata — widely deemed a corporate czar par excellence — has taken two stands since the Niira Radia tapes became public. One, in an interview to Shekhar Gupta, editor, Indian Express, he has bemoaned the “banana republic kind of attack on whoever one chooses” the tapes triggered. He’s warned those who leaked the tapes that they stand in danger of destroying the nation by clouding the ‘investment climate’ and has asserted that such people should “consider themselves not as heroes of the nation but in fact as one of the villains who would bring down this nation after the good that is being done”. Disappointingly, he also said that “a banana republic kind of an environment could emerge” not from the excesses of crony capitalism but, to quote, “if we don’t put an end to this kind of thing [ie, leaking phone taps] and under the guise of freedom of speech or the guise of many other so-called rights of democracy, we abuse the luxury of a democracy”.

    Tata has backed this unexpected sentiment with a petition in the Supreme Court seeking to block the publication of any further tapes or transcripts that might emerge (only 104 out of an estimated 5,800 phone taps have been leaked) and asking that all existing tapes and transcripts should immediately be withdrawn as an infringement on his right to privacy. Following his request, the government has ordered an investigation into who leaked the tapes. Tata’s move can have far-reaching consequences for Indian democracy and has triggered a crucial debate on what constitutes privacy and under what circumstances it should be sacrificed for public interest.

    At a purely human level, it is easy to commiserate with Tata’s feelings: anyone would concede it is mortifying to have private conversations — of any nature — exposed for public viewing. There are tonalities we use in private we would not deploy in public and, under other circumstances, many vexed questions would arise from the publication of tapped phone conversations. But the issue here is not individual mortification; it is the health of the nation. And especially in the Niira Radia tapes, the question of privacy and public interest does not seem a very complicated one.

    To understand this, one must recall what is now already widely known. Except for an extremely tiny percentage — casual talk of a Jaguar and a black gown, for instance — none of the Niira Radia conversations are about personal issues: instead, they expose the debilitating overlaps that have built up between the media, vested corporate interests and government policy. Tata’s assertion that these tapes infringe his privacy does not hold good because Radia is not talking about personal affairs or even about intra-corporate strategy: balance sheets, the takeover of other companies or shareholder agreements. Nor is she an aisle spectator indulging in idle gossip. She is a powerful corporate lobbyist whose conversations are largely focussed on five issues: the gassharing dispute between the Ambani brothers; the allocation of spectrum; the process of Cabinet formation; the manipulation of the media; and the wielding of influence on bureaucrats and politicians. All of these pertain to public interest: they involve the corporate use of national resources and the functioning of public servants and institutions of democracy. By virtue of the fact that Radia formally held many Tata accounts and Tata Telecom is among the many telecom companies that benefited from former telecom minister A Raja’s policies, both Tata and Radia become fair game for public scrutiny.

    This brings one to Tata’s other argument in the petition. His contention is that even if phone taps become necessary for any investigative agency, the findings should either be restricted to the original mandate of the investigation, or be pursued solely by an investigative agency and there should be a penal clause against any disclosures — both for those who disclose and those who publish them. His argument is that no whistleblower should be allowed to turn private conversations — even if they pertain to public interest — into a media circus. The country must rely on its institutions.

    WHILE THIS would be an ideal situation, even a tyro knows this is a naïve dream. In fact, ironically, the Radia tapes themselves show why Tata’s arguments are flawed and can have grave repercussions for Indian democracy. Everything in the Indian experience — reaffirmed dolefully by the conversations in the tapes — shows us that we cannot rely solely on our investigative agencies, institutions and elected bodies to acquit their duties and uphold national interest. At some point or the other, everyone and everything is compromised and vulnerable to political and corporate influence.

    This year alone the CBI — the premier investigative agency in the country — has come under repeated cloud for being politically manipulated to let off some wrongdoers and go after others. The CVC head PJ Thomas is at the centre of a controversy. LIC officials have been taking kickbacks. The army’s top brass has been found involved in a scam. The Adarsh Housing scam papers have disappeared from government offices. The Supreme Court has censured the Allahabad High Court for being “rotten”. The Reddy brothers in Karnataka have carried on with impunity though Lokayukta Santosh Hegde has exposed their criminal wrong-doing in mining. Suresh Kalmadi and company were allowed to go unchecked for years though everyone in the establishment must have known what was going on. And like Kalmadi, A Raja was not sacked till the CAG report was made public and there was a volcanic media outcry — though both the PMO and telecom regulatory body TRAI had been repeatedly warned of the scam from 2007 itself.

    So, hard as the truth might be, the fact is that in most cases there is a powerful X-factor that catalyses punishment and redressal in India: public opinion. It is public outcry that forces — or shames — individuals and institutions to act according to their moral briefs. Whistleblowing is a key component in that process. If Tata’s petition forecloses this option, it will set a terrible precedent. Indian democracy will be compromised.

    Fortunately, the Supreme Court itself is aghast by the tenor of the Radia tapes and what they reveal about then nature of our society. A couple of days ago, the judges hearing a PIL on the 2G scam filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan said the Radia tapes are “mind-boggling”. Reputed lawyers like Ram Jethmalani, Kamini Jaiswal, Sanjay Parikh and Bhushan himself are certain the contents of the tapes are of public interest and override any concerns about intrusion into privacy.

    Tata, therefore, is faced with an uncommon challenge: an invitation to mirror-gaze, like the rest of us, without the golden gauze. This challenge is not for him alone, but for the entire corporate community. In the Indian Express interview, Tata spoke wistfully about sitting on top of a summit just a couple of weeks ago, taking in President Obama’s praise for all the good work done and for being an emerged nation not an emerging one. But he would do well to reconsider a lot of what he said. There is no taking away from the positives of what either Tata himself — or the Indian business community — has achieved in the past few decades. But perhaps their ideas of nation-building and justice have to expand a little. When his Nano factory was repulsed from Singur, Tata had written an open letter to the people of Bengal rebuking them for their indiscipline and unruliness. What he forgot to mention was that until the people of Singur and Nandigram rebelled and gave their blood to defend their land, neither the Indian Parliament nor the corporate czars who were “building India” had bothered to even draft a Relief and Rehabilitation Bill that would ensure those who were turfed out of their land through the draconian Land Acquisition Act would get their due. It took the unruly people of Bengal to ensure that. The point is, public outcry can often be the most crucial brick of a democracy. And the key to social justice.

    The Radia tapes have challenged all our rosy notions of self. Given Tata’s stature and the group’s inherited reputation for ethical corporate behaviour, one would have looked to him, at this difficult time, to set the bar for transparency for his community, no matter how personally mortifying the process might be.
     

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