By Sanjay Jha
A Raja , our poker-faced Minister for Telecom has of course, established beyond doubt that corruption has a wide spectrum ! I admire him for his teflon-texture ( since he appears fairly unperturbed by the daily rising value of the scam with zeroes being tossed around like pan-fried noodles to the last digit ) and for happily shuttling between Chennai and New Delhi with a broad grin peppered intermittently with an annoyed expression whenever someone said—Sir G, what about a Swan that flies high and all that?
But we need to also thoroughly expose “ the other side” of the transaction ; after all, for every credit there is an alternate debit entry. If the government is corrupt, it is very likely that the real beneficiaries—- the much vaunted “ professional private sector” is equally if not more guilty of similar misdemeanors as Raja. It is a convoluted plot where the accessories-in-crime have orchestrated the entire auction fully aware of the modus operandi to loot the government exchequer. Exposing the private players will make the coverage more pertinent, accurate and fair. At the moment, it has become hugely lop-sided. We have sermonizing private sector CEOs in various forums reading out corporate ethics, and shaking their heads in acute disbelief. But is that not double-standards??
So if the GOI lost approximately Rs 170,000 crores on an undervalued sale of 2 G spectrum ( almost 2.5 times the amount of farmers debt written off ) , WHO BENEFITTED DIRECTLY ? Which companies? Who are the eminent names on the boards of these firms? How did they sell their cheap purchased spectrum in equity ventures to foreign partners and at what PE multiples ? Was there any pay-offs involved? What are their current valuations? And how can one rescind the whole past cheap sell-out to market-realistic financial terms even today ?
The 2 G spectrum case is made of the classic “ omission and commission” stuff. People usually get away with the former part, blaming it on circumstantial factors, administrative inexperience, irrational unknown market conditions, cumbersome legalities, bureaucratic red-tape, deemed implicit approvals et al. It is the “ commission ” part that usually nails them. I think Raja somewhere believes that his “ lapse” can be conveniently washed away as a “ bad decision” alone. But was it premeditated? And was he in prior collusion with the ultimate profiteers from the deal? And did he finally ignore all sane advice and hurriedly pushed the auction through?
As Raja gets ready to face the wintry chill, time to get our morally self-righteous , pontificating private sector corporate czars to share some of their “ satyam” practices too, right???