It would be no exaggeration to call the last few months in the telecom
industry as ‘action-packed’. Right from the time, communications minister
Arun Shourie brought in Pradeep Baijal to head TRAI, there has hardly been a day
when this agency has not been in the news.
While the previous Chairman ensured that TRAI kept a very low profile, TRAI
is today very visible. Right from industry-panel discussions to academic
discussions one can see senior TRAI officials interacting with the outside
world. Baijal has been taking a special interest to speak at all available
occasions, and put forth TRAI’s point of view. From a very inward-looking and
non-transparent organization, TRAI has been successfully able to project itself
as an open, transparent, and receptive organization.
Similarly, the total number of consultation papers that TRAI has brought out
is amazing. You name it, and TRAI has floated a consultation paper. Again,
compared to the previous TRAI, which was seen more as reactive to industry
issues, this TRAI has surely established itself as pro-active. It is now seen as
a body, which has a finger on the industry’s pulse, and leads, rather than
being lead. A lot of ground-work and research is happening there.
The way Baijal and his TRAI team has gone about its job, without really
bothering what the industry says, or what the media alleges, is also no joke.
They not only withstood pressure from some of the country’s most powerful
groups, but they actually bulldozed their way through all opposition. The
country today sees them as courageous.
The fact is that TRAI’s story goes beyond conveying to the world that they
are serious, have an ear to the ground, are doing a lot of homework, have
political backing, want to move fast, and will have their way.
The regulator has now taken upon itself the task of indirectly defining
national telecom policies, and also driving telecom usage. TRAI now says that
the next area of focus will be the Internet and broadband–the other major
technologies that will take the benefits of communication to the masses.
Traditionally, telecom policies and telecom promotion has been the Governments’
and DoT’s mandate. But now TRAI seems to be taking over this role too.
Without getting into the debate whether all this is genuine stuff or just a
great TRAI ploy to get its way across, whether it is right or wrong, let us
admit one thing. Indian telecom seems to be heading towards some direction. And
it wants to dream for a future for itself. And at the moment, all this is lead
by TRAI. Perhaps, we could rename it as the Telecom (De)regulatory Authority of