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CIMA Gallary

VERBAL VALOUR

It would be unjustified to accuse the minister of communications and information technology of talking too much; after all, it is his function to communicate. It would be even less just to say that he puts his foot in his mouth every time; he talks too fast for that. But he does have a tendency to raise hackles, and not only prickly ones like Narendra Modiís. The last time he did so was when he tried to deliver Aakash tablets to Gujarat. Mr Modi accused him of not sending the promised tablets; of the millions he had promised, he sent two ó to the wrong address. They were rejected by Mr Modiís minions at his home and his office. No wonder, for Mr Modi was only a few miles away from Kapil Sibal: he was participating in his partyís confabulations at Suraj Kund.

It seems that the minister of information does not get information readily available in newspapers. Such a comment would be breezily dismissed by Mr Sibal as coming from the media, whom he blames, together with the courts and the comptroller and auditor general, for policy paralysis. It is nice of him to elevate the media into such high company; but surely he is logically challenged. One can understand the government being stunned into inaction by its fear of the courts and the CAG. But the media are surely not a part of this coterie, for they hunger for policy action. After all, it creates news. They may criticize it after it is taken, but they would not have to do it if the courts and the CAG were active enough; it requires less effort to report news than to create it. Even the justices would argue that they are not asking for policy inaction; they wish the government would make fewer mistakes. To give licences to the chosen few friends of the minister (not Mr Sibal) is the perfect way of making them very rich; even A. Raja could have foreseen that courts would consider it unjust. And it is the constitutional function of the CAG to go through the governmentís accounts and point out where money might have been spent more wisely; instead of complaining about it, the minister should get someone to read through the reports and make sure that the government does not make the same mistakes again.

Not that everyone in the government is too busy talking to read the reports; the latest auction of telecommunications licences was clearly based on some reading. It gave Mr Sibal a golden chance to get back at the courts; auctions are supposed to maximize the governmentís profit, but this one brought in a pittance. That, though, is not the fault of the method; it is because there is little money left in telecommunications. Nearly everyone who wants a telephone has one; only a clueless foreign company would now want a licence in this country.