Apropos of the column “The telecom blunders” (FE, September 21), the sector is being treated like football by both the UPA and NDA governments. While the previous UPA government was involved in serious corruption cases, the incumbent NDA government has not corrected the levy 8% of Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) as licence fee which is amongst the highest in the world. The Spectrum Usage Charge (SUC) is between 4% and 6% of AGR; in most parts of the world the counterpart fee is either fixed or about 0.1% of AGR, tantamount to fleecing the sector given the fact spectrum has been auctioned which has yielded government huge revenues. The telcos pay up to 30% of their GR in fees, charges and taxes. This has left the sector in shambles and no investment is forthcoming, and having milked the industry, the sector is left in lurch. The broadband and other services have been grossly inefficient and expensive. According to the Department of Telecommunications, lack of adequate spectrum was the primary reason for slow broadband speeds in the country. While mobile operators in other countries have 20-30 MHz spectrum on an average, in India telecom companies operate with just 5-10 MHz. The average speed in India is 2.0 MBPS, dismal compared to other countries in the Asia-Pacific region—South Korea has 22.2 MBPS; Hong Kong 16.8 MBPS; Japan 15.2 MBPS. Even countries like Sri Lanka and Sudan are ahead of us.
MM Gurbaxani, Bangalore
Risk aversion is risky
The Federal Reserve chairman has clearly stated that the global economic environment is not very heartening and therefore there can be further delay in taking inflation to 2%, which is aimed by the US. The commodities prices and finished goods prices have declined too much. It can affect the prices everywhere, including the US. Low prices in the US means that investors have no advantage to buy bonds, which can help companies and the government to begin spending for creation of jobs. Until now, the consumer had the benefit of borrowing at cheaper rates of interest so that they can complete the purchase of property and consumer durables. Even the pensioners are hurt that they are getting pretty low rates of interest. No doubt, the problem is circumventing. The Fed believed that global economy won’t suffer as much as it is seen suffering today. The problem has been compounded by the Chinese unexpected slump in economic growth. In other words, let inflation may not rise for the time being in the US but at least the easy liquidity elsewhere can benefit Asian economies largely and the damage to some extent can be averted. It appears that the Fed has taken a pragmatic approach.
RK Arya, Faridabad
Apropos of the news story “Declassified files show Netaji Subash Chandra Bose’s family spied on in independent India” (FE, September 19), the disappearance of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is one of the great unsolved mysteries of our times. The declassification of 64 secret files by the West Bengal government has not ended decades of speculation about his disappearance. Instead, it has rather fuelled speculation. However, it is bound to increase pressure of the central government to follow suit and make the confidential files in its possession public to dispel the cloud still looming large over Netaji’s last days. From the declassified documents, it is clear that the Bose family and personnel of the Indian National Army were kept under constant surveillance without a hint as to why it was done. More significant is the demolition of the theory of the leader’s death in an air crash at Taihoku, now in Taiwan, on August 18, 1945. Piecing together pieces of information gives the sense that Netaji could have been alive after 1945. The ‘fear’ that the declassification of files in the custody of the central government may ‘adversely affect’ India’s relations with friendly foreign nations cannot be cited as a valid reason to withhold the truth from the people, as no self-respecting nation can hide behind such a flimsy ground to let down any of its tallest leaders. For once Prime Minister Narendra Modi can prove that he means business by fulfilling the promise to declassify Netaji’s files.
G David Milton, Maruthancode, TN