2011 so far has been the year of the scam busters, and we appear to be at an inflection point in India’s legal and political journey. In recognition of this paradigm shift, we have taken the unprecedented step of taking out an entire issue on various aspects of the 2G scam.
Since our readership includes many of those who may not be familiar with events occurring in India, here are the essential facts:
1. The second generation mobile telephony spectrum scam in India arises out of the issue in 2009 of 122 licenses to 85 companies at a price set in the year 2001. Many of these companies are mere shells; others had little or no telecom experience.
2. The spectrum was being sold cheaply and not everyone could get it. Facts have surfaced indicating illegal manipulation of the spectrum allocation process to favour some companies not based on any rational criterion.
3. The issue came to light after the auction of airwaves for third generation mobile services indicated the extent to which the 2G spectrum had been underpriced. This encouraged the Controller and Auditor General to estimate the loss to the exchequer spectrum at Rs. 176,379 Crores i.e US$39.16 billion!
4. Seized of the matter following a petition by a seasoned politician, the Supreme Court of India ordered an investigated which has so far culminated in the arrest of business owners and executives of a powerful Indian company and Members of Parliament of one of the ruling coalition partners.
In this edition, we systematically examine the 2G scam from a variety of standpoints. First, in Scam Mela, we question the magnitude of the scam and surmise the motives of those who are defining the numbers.
Next, considering how often scams seem to break out in India, we explore the political compulsions the drive graft in India in Systemic Scamming.
Finally, in an attempt to have a perspective on very recent events, we examine the nature of the historic processes that underlie the 2G scam in A Century After.
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Ranjeev C Dubey