Vantage point

Sunday, August 24, 2003

It has been a while since I posted anything about policy. This is something that has been on my mind since watching a presentation some students made in our "Telecom Business Management" class.

The presentation showed me how deep the roots of socialism have sunk into the Indian psyche that even students in an institute like IIM, a virtual breeding ground of capitalists, talk like confused lefties.

We were discussing the Convergence Bill/ Unified Licensing Policy. A brief tutorial for those who don't know what this is. Right now companies who want to provide basic telephone service need a separate license and those who want to provide mobile services need a separate license. The Convergence Bill intends to combine these licenses, so that by buying a unified license, you will be able to provide any or both services.

Now I see a LOT of difficulties in implementing this, but what shocked me enough to write this post is what one guy said. He whined -

"If we allow people with one license to provide all services, then it will lead to formation of telecom monoliths who will, with their deep pockets, drive the smaller players out of business. But convergence bill is a must. So what we can do is allow a unified license and then set a limit on the market share a company can have."

I mean, arrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggg. Here we have even politicians trying to get rid of the license-permit-quota raaj, and here is a guy from a premier b-school advocating the same in a sector as important as telecom. If monoliths is what you fear, then why recommend a convergence bill at all?

Even a basic understanding about economics seems to be sorely lacking. Chuck civics, but teach eco from a very young age.