The Supreme Court order on the 2G Spectrum Scam, cancelling 122 licenses issued in 2008, has been described as a vindication of enlightened citizens who have fought for transparency and probity in public life. For the already besieged UPA Government, it comes as a major embarrassment, which even its expert legal eagles will find it difficult to spin. Not that the attempt is not already being made, with Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal blaming the policy on ‘the previous government’. What is worse, however, is the financial disaster it will represent for some of the established and thriving telecom companies. The conditions in which business is done in this country are vitiated by the money grabbing politicians and bureaucrats, while the businessmen are left to pay the bill. In this case, the slide has already begun in the share prices in many of the affected companies.
It may be argued that the companies are just as culpable for having ‘benefited’ from what is an ‘unfair’ regime, but the coming possible ‘massacre’ in the telecom sector could see bankruptcies and major job losses. While the politicians and bureaucrats are most likely to get away with the crime, telecom company shareholders and workers are going to take a big hit. The matter has been left to TRAI to resolve, and it is possible that a workable plan to keep the competition alive in the industry would be worked out, otherwise there is the danger of a few garnering all the spoils. These may also not necessarily be the best service providers in the industry. The SC has also left the doors open for recovering from the disaster, but going by the sorry condition of government and its agencies, the prospects are not good. Worse, this will be a further blow to India’s credibility abroad, as foreign telecom companies that have made legitimate investments in the country would suffer for no fault except that of putting their trust in this country’s system. Following the CWG disaster, India already has the image abroad of a country not only riddled with corruption, but also one that cannot take forward major projects or policies successfully.
All of this has happened because of the brazen and unbridled greed of those in power. Any number of excuses are being trotted out for the total lack of oversight by the Prime Minister and those who stand behind him in running this country. Even as it continues to fight PR and legal battles to seem legitimate, the government has lost even its tiny fig leaf of moral authority. As always, post this fiasco, depend upon its spinmeisters to fling dirt at all and sundry so as to acquire invisibility in the dust raised.
It is absolutely imperative that those responsible for bringing so much grief to ordinary Indians and embarrassing the nation abroad be taken to task. The process has been underway for some time, largely because of the dedication and determination of scam busters like the media, the judiciary and the Subramanian Swamys. So far, the government has successfully managed, through intimidation and subterfuge, to confuse public opinion, even when the angst of civil society was more than evident during the Anna Movement. The government continues to assert that it would require a defeat in the elections to accept its mistakes. In the meanwhile, it is hoping that by dividing society further on communal and caste lines, it would manage to water down the electoral verdict to the level necessary to claim vindication. This is a dangerous denial of India’s other constitutional institutions. How long will the people stand for it?