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

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Whither Accountability?

A Tale of Tangled Lines

A Bureaucrat Fights Back: The Complete Story of Indian Reforms by Pradip Baijal, Noida: HarperCollins, 2016; pp xvi +366, ₹ 499.

A Bureaucrat Fights Back, authored by Pradip Baijal, a former civil servant who served as the chairperson of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) during a critical period of its existence, claims to tell the reader the “complete story of Indian reforms.” That is an ambitious and bold promise for an author to make; however, the competency of the author to follow-up and deliver on such vast intentions cannot be doubted. He was a distinguished member of the Indian Administrative Service and held several important positions, eventually culminating in his ascent to the chairpersonship of the TRAI. Earlier, the author served in the Ministry of Power as additional secretary, and then as secretary in the Department of Disinvestment (now the Department of Investment and Public Asset Management [DIPAM]). With this rich experience under his belt, if he cannot tell us the story of Indian reforms, few others can.

The book is rich in detail. Part I relates the reforms story in the telecom sector, Part II contrasts the success of telecom sector reforms with the lack of it in the power sector and describes the successes of the disinvestment sector. In all of these, the author was a critical player and saw plenty. Part IV traverses the history of market reforms, disinvestments, opening of sectors, de-licencing, and privatisation. In Part V, the author speaks of his early years in service, relating how his administrative experience evolved and why he was drawn to the idea of liberalisation and privatisation. The book, therefore, fills a vital gap in the understanding of the reforms process for the average reader. The only fault, if any, is that of form rather than content. The back-and-forth nature of the text and the wealth of detail combine to ensure that the reader’s attention ought not to falter.

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Updated On : 4th Nov, 2018
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