Q 1. Why did the BSNL employees lose their LTC and the benefit of encashment of Leave?
A. Because, they did not care to know what was going on, when their Management was leading the BSNL in wrong direction to land that organisation in the red. These employees simply were imagining that it was not necessary for them to know anything about what was going on at higher levels of the organisation.
Q 2. When did the BSNL employees start evincing interest in knowing what their Management was doing?
A. They became alert and curious to know what was ailing their organisation, only when they lost promotion prospects and started stagnating in their career, when they were about to lose their service benefits one after the other, when they were offered VRS, and when the BSNL Management started saying openly that the financial position was not okay with it.
Q 3. What do the employees of BSNL do now?
A. They delve deep into the issue and examine where their Management went wrong. They show keen and real interest in extending the reach of the BSNL to new areas, where people want BSNL broadband but the BSNL Management is showing royal indifference to their suggestions so that the situation would facilitate the private players to make money in those areas. They are not happy when their Management tells them not to bother themselves about expansion but just to maintain whatever they already have. They want the management to purchase new machinery and equipment to match the services rendered by private operators. They want vibrant BSNL. They protest against the slackness of the company in making fresh investments. “The new machinery is not being bought by the company which is hitting the growth prospects badly” said Mr. Nalawade, Secretary of BSNL Employees’ Union. (Indian Express – Dec 16, 2011).
Q 4. Could things have been different in BSNL?
A. Possibly, if the employees (Staff and Officers) and their Federations had woken up earlier to save the organisation and raised these demands at that time itself. These Federations could have taken the unlawful activities of the Management of the BSNL to the knowledge of the public in time. They could have played their role effectively in averting the calamity. But, they did not do anything when they knew that things were going wrong. The Federations of the employees did not act when they should have acted. In other words, whatever they are doing now could have been done by them earlier. That could have changed the scenario.
Q 5. What is the reason for BSNL to remain in the red?
A. Interference of the politicians in power. The BSNL management should have been given freehand to run its affairs in a competitive market. They should have ensured that the Management was functioning effectively and also objectively without there being any misuse of power by the bureaucrats. But, the politicians did not permit professional management of BSNL. They wanted to favour the private players by curtailing the role of the BSNL in the nation. “In the past four years, BSNL has accumulated a loss of Rs.25,258 crore spectrum as payments for 3G and broadband spectrum depleted its reserves and expansion plans were hobbled because of political interference and litigation, harming its ability to compete with private companies such as Bharti Airtel Ltd and Idea Cellular Ltd.” (Live Mint. Aug 06, 2013).
“As long as they are governed by the ministry and ministers and not their own board, whether they get government help or not will not make a difference,” said B. K. Synghal, former managing director of Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (now Tata Communications)” . This is what many Ministers do when they are given power to play a role in the Administration. They have their own commitments to so many that they spare no chance to make the organisations under their control to cater to their various needs. They do not allow autonomous bodies function autonomously. Honest bureaucrats who run those autonomous bodies are found by them to be inconvenient. If there are dishonest bureaucrats, these Ministers, instead of pulling them up, join hands and and make hay. There are and were some exceptions, but they are rare and are not encouraged. As a result, many honest bureaucrats develop a tendency to seek transfer out so that they were not required to be party to the misdeeds of such ministers. This makes the designs of the Ministers easier.
Q 6. What are the suggestions by ‘experts’ to revamp the BSNL?
A. “In 2009, a panel consisting of technocrat Sam Pitroda and banker Deepak Parekh had recommended that the government sell a 30% stake in the company to the public and also cut its staff by 100,000.” (Ibid.).
Q 7. What is the need to sell 30% stake of the PSU?
A. These ‘experts’ have their own axe to grind. They do not want BSNL to flourish. The BSNL does, in fact, have the potential to provide cable connection to the Televisions of all the house-holds in India. They can facilitate people seeing all channels or any channel of their choice at a much cheaper cost. At one stroke all the private DTH service providers and cable connection providers would vanish from the scene. That would facilitate the common people immensely. But, such an arrangement is not convenient to the politicians in power, irrespective of the party in power, as the BSNL would not give money to them, in black or in white while the private players do, in both. That is why these salesmen of the nation are out to sell the government undertakings to private people. Earlier too, a successfully-run VSNL was, unnecessarily, sold to private hands by the erstwhile rulers.
Moreover, these politicians do not bother to enforce RTI Act in the institutions of Airtel, Tatadocomo and other private service providers. But, the BSNL and MTNL are subjected to it. When all are in the same field, if the private players are also subjected to RTI Act, the money squandered away to the politicians by these private players would become known to all. The politicians and the so-called experts are, therefore, not for it.
The politician-top level bureaucrat-businessman nexus is all out to spoil the BSNL and the nation too, in that process. The very salary drawn by the top-brass of the private service providers and the top-level officers of the BSNL would show that the gap is extreme. Likewise, a comparison of the lower level workers in both would show that the BSNL pays them reasonably while the private service providers pay just pittance and have contracted the work out. While BSNL and MTNL pay all its employees well, the rich and poor gap is made very very wide in the offices of the private service providers. The Indian society does not grow on healthy lines with such private players around. An unjust society is created by these private players duly encourage by the politicians and the ‘experts’ who are out to sell the nation.
Q 8. The VSNL’s former Managing Director blamed the interference and control by the Ministers over the BSNL for the problems faced by the BSNL. But, who is blamed by the Minister for the ills of BSNL?
The Minister blamed the employees and accused them of inefficiency. The BSNL is not permitted to function even upto its Equipped Capacity. The Working Capacity is just two third of the Equipped Capacity. Still, the employees are blamed in public to justify privatisation of telecommunications. But, the VSNL was sold, by the BJP-run government even when that undertaking had been run efficiently by the officials.
Q 9. Is the financial position of the BSNL still in the red?
A. Yes. Their letter dated 06.05.2013 says so. The text of the letter is given below (Emphasis supplied).
BHARAT SANCHAR NIGAM LTD
(A Government of India Enterprise)
Bharat Sanchar Bhawan H.C. Mathur Lane, New Delhi-01
No. 13-1/2013-PAT(BSNL) Dated: 6-May-2013
All Heads of Telecom circles.
All Heads of other Administrative units.
Sub: Expenditure Control in BSNL.
In partial modification of BSNL letter No. 7-8/2010/EF/Part/1 dated 05.09.2011, the competent authority has decided that as financial performance of BSNL is not improving, All India LTC facility will remain frozen for all BSNL Employees till further orders. However, the employees who cross the age of 59 years shall be allowed to avail one All India LTC during the last year of their retirement.
Other terms & conditions of the above letter dated 05.09.2011 will remain unchanged.
[Sheo Shankar Prasad]
Assistant General Manager (Pers.V)
Q 10 . Who is the ultimate sufferer now that the BSNL is in the red?
A. (1) The common public of the entire nation, especially the rural folk, because once the BSNL is out, the private players can form a cartel and loot the entire nation, the way the cement cartels and oil cartels do, at present and
(2) The employees of the BSNL who chose to remain ignorant in the blissful belief that they were just employees and were required to do only the duty assigned to them and were not required to spare time or tax their brain to know what was actually going on in the top echelons of the organisation. Their promotions, perquisites and career are in jeopardy today, as they remained, until yesterday, totally unconcerned about the events that actually involved them and were to affect them.
Q 11. What is the moral of the story?
A. ———. (Readers to fill up the blank).