One nation, one number! Okay, no need to get into the patriotic mode.
New telecom policy dubbed National Telecom Policy 2012 was approved by the Cabinet today. Win-win situation for all? or, UPA's attempt to get a breather midst tunes of doom (if today's Bharat Bandh's is the song)?
Telecom companies’ con through roaming and broadband speed barriers to be tamed but be prepared to pay more for local calls!
But Bharat Bandh was not the only song.
Today was yet another day of crisis for the United Progressive Alliance government. It’s not just about the mixed response to the Bandh with significantly higher support in many parts against the petrol price hike (but the Bandh vandals must be punished); it was also because of the major GDP blow.
If the Bandh panicked the government and by the evening we heard the ‘rumours’ of some rollback of the price though denied later on, the GDP downslide slapped in the face of the policymaking with lowest GDP figures in nine years that came out today.
The fourth quarter GDP figures (for March) announced today stood at a poor 5.3 per cent while the GDP for the year 2011-12 has been 6.5 per cent. In the last quarter of the previous year, it was 9.2 per cent. And it has sent shivers across the industry and the community of investors and certainly, it is slated to boil down to the common man already reeling under the pressure if remains unchecked.
And experts all across the spectrum have started rightly blaming the policymaking paralysis for it. Though the GDP figures have never been a true representative of the ground realities in a country like India, they do affect the economy sentiments.
Anyway, this new telecom policy looks good. For me, it will rid me of the endless messages informing me of this roaming zone or that roaming zone while on tour as well as will check the fleecing by Airtel on its broadband connection speed. Also, allowing internet calls can help in offsetting increased call-tariff rates. For many, there will in individualized benefits.
Also, had it not been the GDP humiliation, we might have had some rollback as public sentiments do precipitate when there are important elections slated (i.e., Gujarat, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Odisha, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, among others) one after the other before and in-the-line of the General Election 2014.
But, probably, the GDP humiliation pulled the government back to play it safe by denying any petrol price rollback though our dear financial manager said emphatically (once again) that all the factors pulling the economy back were almost ironed out. So pathetic he looked again.
A classic catch-22 situation! Isn’t it?
The only way forward is the path to reform but the chicken hearted government cannot go with it in full throttle. It is not just the coalition compulsions, but also the spineless attitude of the government on rationalizing priorities, on reducing taxes, disinvesting the public sector utilities, channeling the black money, holding price-rise even if it bleeds the economy due to electoral politics to steeply increase it later when the elections are gone, only to kill the common man then.
But the GDP humiliation came also as reprieve for the government as it was able to announce its sham austerity measures without much scrutiny as the airwaves spectrum carriers were focused on other developments like analysing the Bandh, going into overdrive on GDP humiliation and some other incidents like yet another train accident and power transition in the Indian Army. There wasn’t any detailed surgery of government’s yet another attempt to befool us in the name of austerity.
HSBC says India is a gasping elephant now. And there are valid takers for it.
Is the full-blown crisis in sight? Will tunes of the doom play the songs of the gloom?
Mr. Manmohan Singh, please do something. The hunky-dory figures of the new telecom policy or shameless crass austerity measures are nowhere near to anointing the already damaged confidence of the Indian juggernaut.
Do something because it will be ultimately the common man feeling the brunt not you. You and your political coterie, the lords of the democracy, will remain behind the comforts of air-conditioned walls, no matter how deep becomes the crisis.