Sunday, February 20, 2011

Opportunities in Spectrum & Black Money

The on-going tussle in spectrum and black money may be turning murkier everyday, but the two ‘resources’ present a golden opportunity in India today. The history of black money is almost as old as mankind and in India too it dates back to ages. But spectrum is relatively new and the recently unearthed spectrum allocation scam has inducted more black money into the Indian economy than any other single exercise in the past. The yet to be constituted JPC may or may not succeed in unlocking the secrets of spectrum allocation and its related scam, but there are immense opportunities for some good offshoots latent in the present confusion. If only our politicians and law makers are imaginative enough, some novel ideas and institutions can be setup for the betterment of Indian nation and society. Let me present just two of them.

Spectrum for Religions

India is a secular nation and as envisaged by its founding fathers, all religions shall be accorded equal respect. Yet we find appeasement of the so-called minority religions and its rights crossing the limits many times. One of the most irritating practices indulged by all factions is the amount of noise pollution generated in the name of religion. Another one is the number of TV channels that have come up in recent times for propagation of religions. Under the guise of so-called comparative studies a major part of time by each religious channel is spent on finding out the demerits and weaknesses of other religions, rather than criticizing and denouncing the evil practices within one’s own religion. All this can be changed by a few reforms.

In the revised allocation of spectrum that is imminent, I would suggest a few MHz to be reserved for the various religions. With a mobile penetration of about 80% in India, all the call for prayers and religious announcements can be easily made over the mobile phones rather than creating noise pollution for the entire society. Each one can setup his or her mobile phone to receive the religious calls depending upon his or her religious preference. And the various mobile operators may also offer it free or at negligible charges. Similarly, the religious TV channels can also be allotted spectrum to operate within a certain range, perhaps at a much lower cost, with the strict conditions to deal with only their own religion. Comparative study of religions is purely an academic exercise and must be limited to the four walls of academic institutions.

National Conscience Fund

Black money of Indians in various foreign banks is estimated to be more than 25 lakh crores of rupees. Most of these accounts have been created by the swindlers themselves, but there are many which are inherited. Even worse is the case of inheritance with out even the beneficiaries being aware of it. Staunch denial by many celebrities is based on this simple fact or by using this as a convenient excuse. The entire civilized world is turning against the Swiss style banking systems and days are not far off when all nations will be willing to share the details of foreign accounts. Indian government will get the longest and most shocking list of illegal account holders in foreign countries. Investigations into the source of such funds must definitely follow, but a simple step before that can prove highly productive.

Indian government must immediately set up an Indian National Conscience Fund (INCF) for various reasons. All swindlers must be given a few months time to transfer their ill-gotten money into INCF if they so desire. And once the swindlers’ list is available from the various foreign countries, all the inherited wealth must also be transferred to INCF under intimation to those who inherited it knowingly or unknowingly. A simple legislation may be necessary to setup INCF and operate it without any unwanted judicial interference. Such a permanent INCF can also go a long way in channelizing a good portion of our black money into nation building activities. But our legislature and legislation must make it double sure that Rajas and Kalmadis do not hijack such an INCF also.

Indian nation would have literally become the world leader and a model democracy for all nations by now if we had erudite and imaginative legislators. The bane of Indian democracy is the growing number of career politicians with no knowledge other than petty politics and conducive family backgrounds. A few revolutionary legislations and innovative administrative steps can bring about unimaginable changes and strengthen our secular democracy beyond all our imagination.

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