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    August 2016

The spectrum of irony


The largest auction of spectrum in India is just a few weeks away. In the past, critics used to find fault with the Government for rationing spectrum and creating an artificial shortage. This time the Government has eased many norms to attract bidders and has also been very liberal in putting on sale the spectrum of various bandwidths, including for the first time the 700 megahertz band — the most expensive and most efficient.

However, in spite of all the Government efforts the auction on September 29 is not evoking much enthusiasm from telecom players. The telecom industry is burdened with a collective debt of Rs 3.8 lakh crore and experts feel that this factor could make the response to the mega spectrum auction lukewarm. Our Cover Story in this edition tries to analyse the conflicting scenarios developing in the telecom industry at present.
In an interesting development in the bureaucracy, the Prime Minister’s Office has made public the salaries of its staff. Bureaucracy Today analyses the disclosures made by the PMO under Section 4 of the Right to Information Act and comes up with some interesting revelations. First, contrary to the popular perception, the salaries of Central Government officials quite match those in the corporate world. Second, the percentage of women employees in the PMO is negligible. Many other such interesting titbits have been discussed in the In Focus segment of this issue. Now that the Prime Minister’s Office has set the ball rolling in transparency, we hope that all other public authorities will follow suit.
Even as the Central Government is trying to bring transparency in the bureaucracy, the Uttarakhand Government has come under the public scanner for making the State a parking slot for retired bureaucrats. In the State Watch segment of this edition we discuss the curious case of post-retirement appointments for bureaucrats in the hill State. In Uttarakhand, it seems, the bureaucrats simply don’t retire but make transition from one job to another. Many IAS officers who retire in the State are again able to get new postings, thanks to the benevolence shown by subsequent Governments. Some IPS and PCS officers have also been reappointed or given extensions after their retirement in the State. Besides money and perks like official cars, bungalows, home offices and staff on duty, reappointment brings with itself the continuation of official prestige and powers. Many boards and authorities have been set up in Uttarakhand which have retired IAS or PCS officers as their heads or members. Grapevine is that these retired bureaucrats are accommodated in these positions to keep their status and perks intact. 


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