I had originally planned to reply in detail to Mr. Ratan Tata’s response to my open letter, but in view of the Supreme Court statement today, I have decided against a continued public exchange of letters, because I do not wish to distract media and public from the recently launched and ongoing investigation into the Spectrum Scam(s), or give the false impression that this is a corporate war. The investigation is a national priority. The recovery of the lost money is a National Priority.
For purposes of clarification – the need for which arises from Mr Tata’s very personal and undeserved attack on me, I reiterate the following points briefly:
1. My intentions and locus: That I have absolutely no vested or financial interest in the telecom sector, either directly or indirectly. I am an Independent Member of Parliament and my efforts are in that capacity alone.
My open letter was part of my continued effort at spotlighting the rot in the Telecom sector and consequent loss of revenue to the nation by corporates’ capturing of Government and regulatory policy making. This should be obvious to those following my work and efforts in Parliament and outside, including as a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on IT. I have, over the last few years, written multiple letters on this and related issues to the government, MoCIT and the PM. I have also asked several related questions in Parliament. All these are available for public viewing on my website at http://www.rajeev.in.
2. The need for an open letter: The need to recover this massive loss indicated by CAG, and to identify/punish the perpetrators has very wide public support and should not be stopped under any circumstance. As part of these efforts, several questions need to be asked and answers found –
(i) Why were certain policies of the Government created – which the CAG has confirmed has caused loss to the Public exchequer?
(ii) Which Corporates were the beneficiaries of such policies?
(iii) Who are the shadowy politicians/bureaucrats behind these benefits and beneficiaries – and their relationship with corporates/ lobbyists?
These need to be asked of all the companies and policymakers in Telecom today including the Tatas. Since Mr. Tata first raised the issues – I wrote back agreeing with him, but also pointed to the fact that his companies also benefitted from the issues that he had spotlighted.
3. On substantive issues: I completely stand by every word that I have written in my letter.
However, rather than exchange of letters, I am perfectly willing to publicly debate these issues with any of the Telecom companies including Mr. Tata, if they choose to do so. Mr. Tata has made some unfortunate personal remarks about my motivations and political affiliations. I will neither dignify those with a comment nor lower the quality of our dialogue by engaging in personal attack and innuendo.
If any of the Telecom companies including Mr. Tata were to accept a debate, I am willing to discuss the issues that were first raised in Mr. Tata’s interview as follows:
(a) Policy flip flop – inventing Limited Mobility and moving to UASL: How did the Tata companies get UASL (including cellular) licenses (with spectrum) in new circles without going through the auction process? And the role of Mr Pradeep Baijal who was then Telecom regulator and subsequently upon retirement, consults for Tata Group.
(b) Out of turn allocation of Spectrum : What was the need/rationale of the Dual technology policy – other than ensuring that companies like Tatas received 2G spectrum in 2008 at 2001 prices, over 373 applications which were already waiting in the queue for over three weeks? The link of the lobbyist to the perpetrators of dual technology is already in public domain.
(c) Spectrum Hoarding: Which companies have really hoarded the Spectrum, gotten both CDMA and GSM spectrum at 2001 prices the cheapest, served least number of subscribers and paid least revenue to government per MHz of spectrum? And whether this flows from the UASL and dual technology regimes?
I believe it’s time that the country learns the truth about the goings on in the Telecom sector. All Telecom companies who have benefited unfairly must come clean. I hope other companies – DB Telecom, Unitech, Reliance, Airtel, Vodafone, etc. will join this public debate too.
I will reiterate – as I did in my open letter – my deepest respect for the enormous legacy and goodwill of JN Tata, JRD Tata and the Tata Group. The questions being posed to the Tata’s Telecom business are real and deserve answers, and do not take away anything from the philanthropic track record of the Tata Group.
As for myself, I am determined to see this issue through – of ridding this sector of corruption and public policy capture. As a consequence, I fully expect that I will be subjected to personal attacks and innuendo of the kind that was unfortunately launched by Mr Tata, but they will not dissuade me from my mission”.