Monday, October 17, 2011

2G Spectrum Scam

2G Spectrum Scam

The 2G spectrum scandal involved officials in the government of India illegally undercharging mobile telephony companies for frequency allocation licenses, which they would use to create 2G subscriptions for cell phones. The shortfall between the money collected and the money which the law mandated to be collected is 1,76,379 crore rupees or USD 39 billion. The issuing of licenses occurred in 2008, but the scam came to public notice when the Indian Income Tax Department was investigating political lobbyist Nira Radia.
The government's investigation and the government's reactions to the findings in the investigation were the subject of debate, as were the nature of the Indian media's reactions. The discussion around the reactions to the 2G spectrum scam became known in the media as the Nira Radia tapes controversy.
The truth hardly matters now….. the damage has been done. The 2G spectrum allocation policy of 2008 has been condemned, & the 2G accused have been damnnified beyond repair. The 2G scam monster has been created & fattened to scary proportions.
And worse, in this kind of a poisonous vitreous environment, the 2G trial is proceeding, and charges to be levied on the 2G scam accused will be be decided on 15th September, 2011.
The 2G accused have diligently & painstakingly argued how they are being made scape goats in this matter. But to no avail. However legally sound they might sound, “corrupt and guilty” has already been jammed into the public minds due to the aggressive n relentless coverage of the media on the 1.76 lac crore loss to exchequer report created by CAG.
Who is CAG? Audit of government accounts (including the accounts of the state governments) in India is entrusted to the CAG of India who is empowered to audit all expenditure from the revenues of the union or state governments, whether incurred within India or outside.
The Comptroller and Auditor-General of India is appointed by the President of India[1] following a recommendation by the Prime Minister. On appointment, he/she has to make an oath of affirmation before the President of India.
Parties accused of involvement
The selling of the licenses brought attention to three groups of entities - politicians who had the authority to sell licenses, corporations who were buying the licenses, and media professionals who mediated between the politicians and the corporations.

Politicians involved

  • A.RAJA , the Minister of Communications and Information Technology who sold the licenses

Corporations accused

  • Unitech Group a real estate company entering the telecom industry with its 2G bid; sold 60% of its company stake at huge profit to Telenor after buying licensing
  • Swan Telecom sold 45% of its company stake at huge profit to Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat) after buying licensing.
  • Loop Mobile
  • Videocon Telecommunications Limited
  • S Tel
  • Reliance Communications

Media persons accused

  • Nira Radia, a corporate lobbyist whose conversations with politicians and corporate entities were recorded by the government and leaked creating the Nira Radia tapes controversy
  • Barkha Dutt, an NDTV journalist alleged to have lobbied for A. Raja's appointment as minister
  • Vir Sanghvi, a Hindustan Times editor alleged to have edited articles to reduce blame in the Nira Radia tapes
  • Rajdeep Sardesai, a CNN IBN senior editor
The current CAG of India is Vinod Rai, who was appointed on 7 January 2008. He is the 11th CAG of India. “We need such examples so that outstanding civil servants, with the courage of their conviction, can still influence the course of governance in these difficult times.” Said TSR Subramanian, a former cabinet secretary, about Vinod Rai.
Well, what is the boundary upto which ‘CAG’, in particular Vinod Rai, should indeed ‘influence the course of governance’, one may ask?
Shockingly, in recent news, it was revealed that the second in command to CAG, R.P. Singh, Director General of Audit (post and telecommunications) – the man who actually led the audit of the 2G licensing process – was not in favour of making any estimation of the losses suffered by the government on account of the First Come First Served policy it followed. The man was of the opinion that it was impossible to know what the spectrum would have costed if it had been auctioned. He was uncomfortable with the methods that were being suggested to bring up a loss figure, any figure for that matter. The S Tel offer for a pan-India 2G license was meaningless since an offer made unsolicited and out of the sky in this manner has no sanctity in a government process. And also because the offer was later withdrawn.

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