Dear Mr Shourie,
You must be aware that the moment it was announced that you are going to be the new communications minister of India, the value of telecom stocks shot up. That is a very clear indication of the kind of expectation this industry and the people of India have from you.
I am told by your office that you are busy meeting your telecom officials, reading about the subject, and getting ready to move. You are among the few people who try to learn and do, rather than do and learn!
You have also been a successful journalist. And to be a successful journalist you have to know what your customer (read reader) wants. One hopes that, in the avatar of the communications minister, you will find out what your customers (users of communications products and services) want. In the past, the record of the ministers in getting to know about issues and concerns of end users, has been abysmally poor. I hope you understand that in the end, Indian telecom will thrive only if it is able to make its end users happy.
I am sure that you will get a team of very good advisors, but let me put down some thoughts, which I feel are critical and therefore need urgent attention. These issues I feel should be the starting point, even if you have got into telecom when a lot of things have already happened.
n Talk to enterprise users. They are the biggest users of telecom, and know what they want. They are very smart and know what is happening on the communications technology front, and what are the international trends.
n Convergence of technologies, products, and services is happening. It a reality, and will be the driver. Keep that in mind for all your policy decision making.
n India needs a lot of money to achieve its planned teledensity. Foreign and private investment will be the key. Win their confidence, and take them along. Otherwise, the road will be too long. Have a roadmap, get a policy to suite that, and stick to what you state.
n Strengthen the regulator-or at least its perception. Today, not just the industry but even the end users have this feeling that the regulator is not strong enough. For an emerging telecom industry, this feeling, even if it is just a perception, is not very healthy.
n Telecom is not only about large business users. It's also about villages and the common man on the streets. Finally, he will need to be equipped for this revolution to succeed. The government as well as private operators have a role to play here, and commitments to keep. We all want communications to be the enabler for everybody, and not to help in creating a digital divide.
n The success story of software in India is also because the government did not get involved in it. It might be a good idea to try out minimum state interference in telecom too.
The above list could be termed philosophical. But converting each one of them into an action point is not very difficult. We have hope and faith that you will be able to do that.