Rarely do we find
a political leader who commands so much respect and faith from
his supporters and opponents alike. India has found such a leader
in the new prime minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. But his goodwill
and stature won’t make things easier for him. On the other
hand, in the parliamentary politics of numbers, he will have to
face contradictory pulls and pressures.
The early signals make us hopeful. Going
against the Sangh parivar’s wish, he has appointed someone
whom the business community trusts as finance minister. Even his
choice of commerce and industry ministers shows he gives a
priority to business and economy.
It is difficult to guess how much importance
the new BJP-led government will attach to telecom. What fuels
this apprehension is the fact that telecom has not even been
mentioned in the “National Agenda for Governance”
released by BJP and it allies. But on the positive side, BJP is a
party which has used technology most effectively. While it
started with audiotex and IVR in 1996, this time its website was
doing the job for it. BJP’s website is one of the most
updated and well-designed ones among Indian sites. These things
make one hopeful.
The new communication minister Buta Singh, a
veteran in Indian politics and his deputy Kabindra Purkayastha,
who also has wide experience as an erstwhile member of
Parliamentary Accounts Committee, have the ability to drive the
telecom agenda. At this stage, when a lot of decisions have to be
taken, we need people who can drive policies rather than just
The major task before the government is to see
that the Indian user–common man and the business
organizations alike–benefits from the telecom reforms. The
government should also encourage user groups to come forward with
suggestions. However, at this stage of the market transition, the
only thing that can ensure a strong telecom growth is a good
regulatory framework. Regulation should be the top priority of
the new government.
The manifesto of the BJP already talks of a lot
of reforms. DoT corporatization, strengthening TRAI,
strengthening PSUs, and most radically replacing the Indian
Telegraph Act of 1885. We wish Atalji and his team all success in
their efforts to take India into the next millennium.