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BW Businessworld

Trai Vs DoT

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Too much agreement and too much difference – both are harmful for a healthy decision making process.

This is precisely the situation that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) are in today. The ongoing spat over the number of telecom licences that need to be cancelled indicates the huge divide between the regulator and the government.

Now the government has decided to give the defaulters an exit route. This was not one of the suggestions of Trai for the operators not rolling out their networks. A situation like this is unlikely to attract FDI in the sector. The existing operators have already told the officials informally, that the future investments in India has become a topic of debate at their board meetings, from a unanimous approval.

The history involving the telecom regulator and the DoT's relationships does not give anything to cheer about for future. However, that does not mean a new beginning cannot not be made.

It is important that the two crucial bodies responsible for the growth of this sector act responsibly. It is said, that the UN Charter provides immense powers to the Secretary General. However, it is the responsibility of the incumbent to use it firmly, diplomatically and effectively or toe the line of one super power or other.  This reflected in social, political and economic decisions of UN in conflict resolution.

Trai may not have enough powers in the Act under which it is governed. But the incumbent occupying the seat of Chairman needs to understand that Trai has some power that needs to be adjudicated judiciously.  Till then, it does not get more powers for stringent implementation of its orders.

The telecommunications ministry on the other hand, needs to understand, that an unbridled use of its executive powers using the support of legislature does not augur well for a country that is in the process of economic reforms.