ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles by Pradip BaijalSubscribe to Pradip Baijal

USO and Rural Connectivity

Rural connectivity in India will become a reality when we start viewing the USO not as the 'Universal Service Obligation' but as an 'Universal Service Opportunity'. Experiences from the mobile sector have demonstrated the potential for telecom growth in India, where private operators and competition have led the market to achieve explosive growth. With today's technology, we have the opportunity to leapfrog other nations in reaching our unreached villages, particularly when so much of the required resources and capabilities already exist, but are lying unused.

Telecommunications: Regulatory Wild West?

Did India need an interventionist regulatory regime in telecommunications? Had there been no interventions then a number of operators would have wound up business due to the high licence fee they had quoted in 1995-96; tariffs would not have come down and most importantly the service would have been available only to the wealthy. All these factors would have combined to hold back telecom penetration. Interventions on the other hand have led to aggressive competition, reduction of tariffs and growth.

Privatisation: Compulsions and Options for Economic Reform

Privatisation is an evocative subject even in the developed economies. In a developing economy like India, with its tradition of successful and pervasive public intervention, it generates unique mind-blocks. Its implementation therefore requires persistent, persuasive zeal. However, the compulsions of ensuring higher levels of investment at progressively higher levels of efficiency and productivity require a complete restructuring of the economic environment. Low levels of public savings, inadequate competition and low export orientation are barriers which need to be transcended. Privatisation and liberalisation of the licensing regime for Foreign Direct Investment are two initiatives which can meet the objectives of efficiency enhancement, domestic and foreign resource mobilisation and incremental capital outlays. The pace of privatisation has quickened since 2000. The adoption of a strategy of block sale of government stock in identified PSEs to a strategic partner, along with transfer of management control, as opposed to market sale of shares in small lots, has enhanced the value received by the government through disinvestment. It also ensures that these assets are put to productive use in the most optimum time frame and with the maximum benefit. While it is too early to quantify such benefits, there is sufficient anecdotal evidence of significant welfare gains for employees, institutional investors and the economy, along with the quantifiable gains for government, from the additional resources freed by the sale of PSEs.

Privatisation: Gains to Taxpayers - and Employees

The policy of the government on disinvestment has evolved over a period of 10 years. It started with selling of minority shares in 1991-92 and continues today with emphasis on strategic sale. The implementation of the present policy has shown the tremendous benefits of privatisation to the taxpayers, the economy, the stock-market and employees. This paper analyses these benefits and tries to allay the fear of the unknown amongst the various stakeholders of the public sector.

The Italian Puzzle

Nationalisation or privatisation is a policy response of the government to manage contemporary ideological, economic, industrial or political pressures on the country's economy. The pressures leading to nationalisations in Italy are different from those in the rest of west Europe and similar to the developing countries. The same applies to privatisations. This paper examines the experience of nationalisation and privatisation in Italy to draw lessons for developing countries.

Large Dams: Can We Do Without Them?

Dams and particularly large dams, are required to meet the increasing demand for water, foodgrains, flood control, supply of power, particularly peaking power, and supply of carbon-free energy. However, there are apprehensions about the effects of hydel projects, especially large dams on ecology and society, and displacement of people. We need to balance current needs with long-term sustainable development. This article analyses the various options on the basis of data available.

From Nationalisation to Privatisation: UK and Japan

Budgetary problems and economic pressures generated by international competition forced the British government in the 1980s, as they did the Japanese government in the 1880s, to opt for privatisation of industries. However, the privatisation programme that Tokyo launched during the 1980s has been different from the British programme in terms of the pressures encountered and the overall approach.

Restructuring Power Sector in India

Several countries, both in the west and in the east, developed and underdeveloped, have introduced reforms in the power sector. In all cases, restructuring revolved around the economic and institutional organisation of the sector and the advantages of introducing competition to raise the overall efficiency in the sector. In India, the reforms already initiated, at the federal level, have been the enactment of laws which enable setting up of regulatory commissions at the central and state levels; provide for separation of generation and transmission as distinct activities; recognise central and state transmission utilities as government companies; allow setting up of private transmission lines within the overall supervision of operation of the government transmission utility; and provide for regulation of transmission by the central and state regulators. Orissa and Haryana had initiated reforms before central legislation and others followed later. This paper attempts to study the initiatives taken in different parts of the world and the benefits of restructuring wherever visible. For India, the paper studies the present stage of restructuring and identifies the programme for the future.

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