- A tale of disconnected dots: The regulatory algorithm behind Electricity Amendment Bill 2020
Economic Times, May 24, 2020
The Ministry of Power recently floated an amended version of the Electricity Act, after consecutive unsuccessful attempts to introduce changes in 2014 and 2018. Hailed as sweeping structural reforms by many, the proposed amendments have recently been subject to resistance by many states, including opposition by Tamil Nadu, Telangana and even Bihar, an ally of the Central Government.
- Close Regulatory Cooperation Will Be Needed For Proper Scrutiny of the Jio-Facebook Deal
The Wire, May 20, 2020
When PM Narendra Modi declared a 21-day national lockdown from March 25, and later extended it till May 3, he forgot to mention that India’s infamous regulatory quagmire was immune to it, and actually acts as sand in the wheels of economic progress.
- Tik Tok poses new risks for Net users, regulation needed
Asian Age, November 05, 2019
Despite citizen concerns over digital freedom, governments worldwide are moving towards greater regulatory control over content platforms.
- Hyperlink a Grand Alliance
Economic Times, June 21, 2019
With two of largest economies in the world — the European Union (EU) and China — developing their own digital economy frameworks and governance systems, and seeking to export those to their respective spheres of influence, the US and India risk being isolated.
An optimal way to usher small businesses into the digital age
Live Mint, April 26, 2019
Globally, the role of digital platforms in the internet economy is increasingly coming under scrutiny. Key concerns relate to exploitation of consumer data and behaviour by platforms without appropriate consent and privacy protocols.
Building Consumer Trust On Data Driven Innovation
Modern Ghana, March 11, 2019
15th March is celebrated as World Consumer Rights Day and also the National Consumers Day in India and many other countries. The day was chosen because John Kennedy, then President of the US declared the consumer Bill of Rights to the US Congress in 1961.
- Postcard from a Spicejet flight on youth job creators
The Asian Age, September 20, 2018
This was the young man’s first ever air journey, but he maintained calm and fastened his seat belt without any clumsiness.
Implications of data mirroring
Live Mint, September 20, 2018
It remains to be seen whether such a policy will backfire when it comes to the potential threat of data colonialism.
- Regaining trust
The Indian Express, June 27, 2017
RBI must use the banking ordinance to deal with its credibility crisis. It must require rating agencies to make their processes transparent, objective and subject to public scrutiny.
- Digital economy: An enabler or disabler?
The Asian Age, July 19, 2017
A few decades since, we have witnessed a lot of such concepts turning into reality, courtesy technology and innovation.
- Digital society’s many disruptions
Live Mint, February 22, 2017
The digital revolution will go well beyond the disruption of industries; the entire social contract will have to be renegotiated.
- Telecom: Expectations remain mismatched
The Asian Age, October 19, 2016
The re-auction of 700 MHz band should only be conducted after a thorough review of the reserve prices. The band is crucial for India’s development goals and the Digital India initiative…
- UNCTAD: Investing in development
Asian Age, August 05, 2016
The world is heading towards increasingly uncertain times. Gains from liberalisation are being doubted, protectionism is becoming the rhetoric, inequality is on the rise and value offered by multilateral systems is being questioned.
- The telecom overhaul
The Asian Age, February 02, 2016
A couple of months back came the government’s “eureka” moment when it agreed on spectrum sharing and trading between telecom operators. Telecommunications fireworks have since shown no symptoms of stopping. The department of telecommunications (DoT) is planning a massive spectrum auction in June this year and has even gone beyond, urging the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to identify additional usable spectrum bands for 3G and 4G services. So basically, the government has gone all out to put to bed the issue of spectrum scarcity.
- Achilles heel of the power sector
The Hindu Business Line, October 15, 2015
The power sector in India faces a paradoxical situation. In some cases, distribution companies are unable to buy power from generation companies due to financial problems. Consequently, the discoms are starving their consumers and the gencos are cutting down their production.
- Neutral Net: A gate-pass to the global society
The Asian Age, September 19, 2015
Noam Chomsky, a famous leftist American philosopher, once said: “The Internet could be a very positive step towards education, organisation and participation in a meaningful society.” This stands true in the current scenario, where the Internet has moulded the world into a global society, truncated distances and enabled thought sharing beyond boundaries. Also acting as an educational hub, the Internet has helped providing solutions in seconds, which earlier used to take hours of search in libraries. There is no denying that the Internet has now turned into what Bill Gates once referred as “town square for the global village.
- The mess that is food regulation
The Hindu Business Line, September 03, 2015
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has produced a volcanic blast in the Indian food processing industry.
In the process, it is not just Maggi or Nestle which has been singed; the law and the regulator, the Food Safety and Standard Act, 2006 (FSSA), and the FSSAI, have been scathed as well. This is especially after the Bombay High Court’s order questioning the lab test results and violation of the principles of natural justice by it, during the process. Both, consumer safety and investment climate are at stake; we need a convergent approach..
- How to quench smart cities’ thirst
The Asian Age, May 18, 2015
Round the clock water supply is one of the indicators for the highly ambitious smart cities programme launched by the government. Consequently, it is absolutely essential that the government treats this as a top priority area With the objective of providing 24×7 power supply to consumers by 2019, the Modi government has pushed for regulatory and consumer-oriented reforms through the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2014. Perhaps, the government may want to consider a similar initiative for a more critical basic need — water. For all purposes, water is something which a person cannot live without. Thirty per cent villages in India do not have access to electricity, while the same number still lack access to tapped water.
- The Railways needs new policy signals
The Hindu Business Line, May 15, 2015
India has adopted the mixed economy approach as a mantra. The same applies to the Bibek Debroy Panel’s treatment of private participation in the Railways. It does not recommend privatisation of the Railways anywhere in its report. There has been much noise over whether the report recommends privatisation, which the minister Suresh Prabhu has contested. India liberalised the airline sector but did not wind up the haemorrhaging Air India…The draft report is well done and can change the face of the Railways if the recommendations are implemented in a defined time frame.
- Power haves, power have-nots
The Indian Express, April 08, 2015
Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal has promised 24×7 electricity supply to all Indians by March 2019. A decade ago, launching the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana, the UPA government had set a similar target to ensure universal access to electricity by 2012. Yet, a quarter of the Indian population still lacks access to electricity. The major problem is in the stressed distribution sector — mainly in the public sector, coupled with freebies given to vested interests. Unless that is addressed squarely, the 2019 target will be just another mirage.
- Network congestion
The Indian Express, January 20, 2015
All of us suffer because of the frequent call drops and lousy services of mobile phone service providers. Last year, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had imposed fines amounting to Rs 5 crore on telcos for poor services. But what is the reason for bad service? Fines have not been deterrents and too much competition has resulted in poor quality services. Indian telecom is frequently cited as an example of the benefits of a market-based sector…India is the world’s second largest telecom market and also the fastest growing. It presents huge opportunities for telecom operators. However, there are concerns that too many operators are competing in the Indian market.
- A bitter pill for doctors, pharma companies
Asian Age, January 06, 2015
The ‘symbiotic’ relationship between the pharma industry and medical professionals has greater implications for developing countries such as India, with high private participation in healthcare sector. Many doctors often prescribe a particular brand of medicine for personal gains. To curb this unethical practice, the long awaited Uniform Code of Pharmaceutical Marketing Practices (UCPMP) is finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Alas, it does not cover unnecessary diagnostic tests and surgeries. Yet, it covers a large area in our healthcare system’s distortions.
- When the regulatory apparatus falls flat
The Hindu Business Line, January 02, 2015
During a recent star-studded seminar in Mumbai on the Indian Financial Code, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government wished to implement a large number of recommendations of the Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC), including a cost-benefit analysis of regulations. He said the government had set up four task forces to study the IFC. These recommendations are in tune with the government’s agenda to ease doing business in India. As a result of erratic, unpredictable and frequently changing policies, the cost of doing business is a big problem. Compliance with costly, multiple and antiquated directives of regulatory or government agencies is a burden on enterprises; it eventually smothers economic growth.
- Power to all, and how
The Asian Age, December 22, 2014
Energy markets…have to be competitive and well regulated. But the necessary condition for that to happen is the removal of the dead hand of politics from the sector. In order to achieve the goal of “power to all” in India, the Indian Energy Minister Piyush Goyal needs to be cognisant of all the challenges and present a clear way forward to overcome them in order to live up to the government’s motto of “achche din”, which is the need of the hour for consumers and producers of power in India. In doing so it must get all the states on board.
- Gas & hot air
The Asian Age, October 13, 2014
The Supreme Court had to step into another policy area gas pricing and directing the government to come out with a clear policy. Due to the Assembly elections in some states, the Government of India will submit it to the Supreme Court on November 15, 2014 and thus close the uncertainty over a long-delayed decision. But what will happen is still a million-dollar question.
- A Regulator for Land Acquisition
Economic Times, January 28, 2013
The current land acquisition Bill talks about direct transaction between buyers and sellers of land. Given the fact that landholding patterns in India are largely fragmented, coupled with large-scale absentee landlordism, such direct transactions will be impossible as there will be huge transaction costs. The state has a legitimate role in land acquisition for industrial development and that should be done institutionally: as a facilitator through independent regulation against a control structure. The Bill on land acquisition should be revised accordingly to upfront say why states should have a role in it by incorporating provisions for the institution of an independent regulator for land acquisition.
- Why regulation of organised retail is important
Financial Express, December 18, 2012
The winter session of Parliament witnessed another chaotic period on several issues, including foreign direct investment in the multi-brand retail sector. What is surprising is that the main opposition party, when in power in 2002, wanted to allow FDI in retail and the incumbent ruling party labelled it as anti-national. Now the tables have been turned around, quite funnily. Perhaps, the game plan appears to be bigger than the retail policy. On the other hand, domestic large organised retailing has already entered into our economic space, and no one seems to be worried about how they are running their business. The large retail sector has its own peculiarities and needs to be regulated in a sui generis fashion, as many countries have also done. Better late, than never.
- Policies to allocate natural resources should be dynamic and transparent
Economic Times, November 26, 2012
The Supreme Court is rightly peeved that the government did not auction the entire spectrum vacated as a consequence of the cancellation of the dirty licences in February, and so are the people of India. But even if the government had done so, the heroic recommendations on a high reserve price might have had the same result.
- Green implications of compulsory licensing
Financial Express, September 10, 2012
The Rio+20 summit was a disappointment for many, but it is pertinent to keep repeating its larger sustainable development agenda for the safe future of humankind. Nation states need to continue taking steps to mitigate adverse environmental effects, and learn about successes and failures from each other, from different fields. One such learning is from the recent grant of a compulsory licence to a cancer drug in India. One of the three grounds on which compulsory licence was granted to Natco for the drug Nexavar was that Bayer, the patentee, had failed to ‘work the patent’ in India. This provision has the potential to facilitate unused patents, covering Environmentally Sound Technologies, as well as provide a way forward for their transfer, dissemination and diffusion.
- India needs to press ahead on Road Safety
Live mint, June 23, 2012
The road safety scenario in India is terrible and no serious attention is being paid. The Sunder committee recommends a National Road Safety Board to oversee road safety issues and to evolve strategies for policy implementation. India’s dismal record in road safety is, among others, due to involvement of multiple government departments and ministries at the central and state levels. It is in the interest of the nation and its citizens that the National Road Safety and Traffic Management Board Bill, 2010, for creation of a centralised agency is passed at the earliest. Prior to that, the Road Ministry should undertake an intensive and extensive consultative process to ensure that shortcomings are addressed and that the Bill has enough teeth.
- Improving Investment Sentiment
Economic Times, May 28, 2012
When Coca Cola, among other foreign consumer goods manufacturers, was allowed to return to India in 1990s, it was not because we needed Coke, but to send the right signal to the world that we were interested in doing business with the whole world. Other than promoting healthy competition, our domestic capital availability was limited. We need foreign investment to meet our growing needs, for example, in the infrastructure sector. We would need over a trillion-dollar capital in the near future to sustain our growth. The problem is that many cannot see the big picture, or myopically pursue their self-interests
- The Regulatory Chakravyuh
Economic Times, April 30, 2012
The Planning Commission is seriously addressing problems. In order to weed out or rationalise useless regulations, the plan body’s strategy also speaks about undertaking scientific regulatory impact assessments. The catch is that states will need to be involved in this exercise closely, as much of the regulatory chakravyuh exists locally. A consensus can evolve through a dialogue and the plan body will have to market it to states, like a skin fairness cream, to demonstrate to them that revenues will rise and new jobs created.
- Should ad durations on TV shows be halved?
Business Standard, March 28, 2012
The TV has become both a source of news and entertainment, the foray of advertisers in this sector has raised the ante of what should be a reasonable amount of advertising with which the consumer can be bombarded. The consumer cannot skip the ads except by hitting the mute button. And in most cases, when one tries and shifts to another similar channel, voilà, more if not the same advertising again, and one waits patiently or does something else…advertisers organise such collusive practice in association with compliant TV channels. Indeed, this should be taken up by the Competition Commission of India.
- Set Regulators Free
Economic Times, December 26, 2011
The demand to house the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) under the proposed constitutional authority of the Lokpal is indeed sensible in more ways than one. This will ensure its independence. Though the CBI is a credible institution, it often comes under the influence of the government to move, or not, on sensitive cases involving politicians. On the other hand, it is fortunate that the Lokpal will be a constitutional authority, otherwise the body would have also met the fate of several of our institutions that get suffocated under executive fiat. Hopefully, the debate should spur a larger discourse on ensuring independence of our regulatory institutions for better governance and growth
- Resolving regulatory turf wars
The Financial Express, April 22, 2011
The Joint Parliamentary Committee and Public Accounts Committee are heading towards a collision on who will have the primacy to enquire into the 2G scam. The Speaker will settle the issue, and we wait with bated breath as to how she will do it. This is but symptomatic of turf wars that we have been witnessing among our regulatory authorities, which are more knotty than political. We, therefore, need to settle the framework to ensure that such conflicts on overlapping issues do not occur, as they are inefficient and invite unnecessary policy arbitrage
- How justified are non-merit subsidies?
The Hindu Business Line, March 25, 2008
In India, we find subsidy support for various goods and services, such as like food, fertiliser, petroleum, energy, irrigation, education, drinking water, and so on. The simple justification for such support is that the cost of providing these goods and services is so high that the common man cannot afford them.
- Quality infrastructure — Good regulatory framework, the key
The Hindu Business Line, September 10, 2007
To achieve a massive investment of around $450 billion over the next five years or more for the creation of quality infrastructure, we need money from home or abroad. And to get this money, we need a quality infrastructural regulatory framework, to ensure a predictable legal environment and a level-playing field.