Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people.
This is a famous quote from Abraham Lincoln. But our ‘democratic’ government does not really follow this definition.
I am going to talk about a specific example here. 3G mobile roaming controversy. There might be some technical inaccuracies here but I think the point would be clear.
When the government auctioned 3G spectrum in India, none of the mobile operator was able to buy a pan-India license. The price was astonishingly high and only limited spectrum was available. This means that bigger players in the market like Airtel, Vodafone and Idea were not able to secure rights for all the major markets.
So what they did to cater to their customers? They formed pacts with each other to let 3G work on roaming. Airtel, Idea and Vodafone were able to offer 3G services in circles outside their own through these agreements.
Now, this pissed the government. They claimed that these pacts were illegal. They said that the original agreement did not allow for such pacts.
DoT made an interesting statement this week. They said that 3G pacts undermined the objectives of the 3G auction.
Now here is the problem. A democratic government (or any sane government) should take steps that makes the lives of their people easy. 3G pacts did exactly that. It enabled operators to recover the money spent on buying the rights to the spectrum by renting it out to a competitor. It gave more options to the consumer as they were able to use 3G from their choice of operator in any circle.
I guess the department of telecom is scared that such pacts might result to cartelization in future auctions. These companies could collaborate and decide on the circles they would bid on. The competition would be less and the government would not be able to generate as much money as they did during 3G spectrum auctions.
They might claim that this hurt the common man because government gets lesser revenues. But the point remains, does it really? It’s not like this government is running short of ways to make money. It’s not like they are actually spending money transparently for the betterment of the people in India.
I mean no matter how much money this government makes, I still pay toll taxes for traveling on roads, I still pay for battery backup solutions because the power supply is erratic. I still pay for water purification solutions because the water supply is not exactly giving me drinkable water. The list is endless.
I am not a fan of mobile operators. Their policies are horrible. They scam their customers on a daily basis. But instead of fixing the problems, the government just is giving them more reasons to dupe customers. Things are pretty messed up to be frank.