Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Kapil Sibal's valiant attempt at obfuscation

manmohan unleashes sibal
After cowering on the back foot for several months the Congress party decided to let loose Kapil Sibal. Sibal is an articulate, eloquent lawyer who is a master at marshalling half truths to obfuscate issues.
His contention is that the policy of first come first served is right, that auctions may have fetched more revenue for the government of India but would have pushed up prices to the consumer & that the congress always works for the aam aadmi. In fact, according to him the NDA which had first auctioned spectrum had themselves seen the futility of the scheme and got into revenue sharing agreements. He went on to say that Vajpayee & Shourie did the right thing despite objections from Narayanan, the then president of India & several others including the Shiv Sena

He does admit though that there are clearly irregularities in implementation & that the CBI was probing criminal culpability! In other words there is corruption & the government is culpable but the Manmohan Singh government has not been able to steal as much as 176 lakh crores & that because his esoteric calculations show that the fraud is by today’s Congress standards minor, the opposition has no business making such a hullaballoo.
While the rebuttals have come from various sources, the PAC saying that it is they (the PAC) & not some interested party who have to examine the genuineness of the CAG accusations, the BJP asking why then was Raja sacked, the CAG sticking by their figures and saying no one other than the PAC or the Supreme Court has the right to question them, and the Supreme Court saying they will not take cognizance of this eloquent nonsense.  
Let’s look at Sibal's eloquence. Procedural & Criminal liability has been admitted. That 'First Come First Served (FCFS)' was not followed, that ineligible players have been given licenses & that the bandwidth-allocation process lacked transparency and was undertaken in an arbitrary, unfair and inequitable manner as stated by the CAG, is thus accepted.  So, there is no doubt that Raja & his cohorts should be incarcerated for decades. Also, it is clear that these criminal deeds did not happen without the PMs Knowledge. Even if there is no evidence of his connivance he, as the boss must accept responsibility & quit. If he wishes to defend himself this clean economist must appear before a JPC.  The poor guy is just a puppet so may be the puppeteer should also be dispensed with.
But, let us look at policy which Sibal claims is in line with the NDAs & correct. He says looking at Telecom licensing as a source of revenue is wrong, that the main driver of policy should be the spread of telecom accessibility. If that’s so why not give away the spectrum free? Why do we want the 1650 crore license fee?
How does giving away spectrum at throw away prices to private companies help the common man? Private companies price for profit and the prices in India today are among the lowest in the world because the service providers have learnt to depend on volumes for growth & profit. They will obviously price based on their customer’s willingness to pay unless the government is planning to insist on a cost plus pricing structure to provide bonuses to the corrupt bureaucrats that they nurture?
Praising Vajpayee & Shourie is a brilliant attempt at obfuscation – The NDA’s errors are being white washed to white wash more heinous crimes. Spectrum was first auctioned at fairly high prices, but it was large companies with expert managements who bid & set prices which made put the service beyond the reach of most, so with abysmal revenues they felt it was a losing proposition and demanded waiver of most of the fee & suggested “revenue sharing”. They were suffering from what is called the “winners curse.” Shourie & Vajpayee decided to reverse the fees. This was a huge scam & obviously money was made. In fact when Vajpayee signed the waiver he was a caretaker PM,   but those were the India Shining days & the Congress’s opposition was muted? Did they get some of the loot?
NDA corruption does not in any way make the UPA less culpable. In fact in those days the telecom revolution had not yet happened and there were some who genuinely believed that the large license fee might prevent it from happening. In 2008 there could be no such justification. While there were about 4 million mobile services subscribers in 2001, the number had swelled to more than 300 million by 2008. With the 3G auction while the government earned an additional 68,000 crores the services are being rolled out at affordable prices.
Please Mr. Sibal, your defense is baseless & even your brilliant oratory won’t give it any credibility.

1 comment:

  1. At some point, when the wound begins to hurt, the narrative in a scam story arcs towards the bizarre. You can be almost sure that the change in trajectory has been propelled by some lawyer trying to be a judge.