Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011-2012



Today 2011 is ending. Tomorrow 2012 is starting.

The year 2011 is the year of no growth or low growth for the economies of USA and Europe. While the low growth coupled with high unemployment resulted in serial protests in the name of Occupy Wall Street in USA, the no growth, high unemployment, debt crisis of the Governments and imposition of severe austerity measures on the people cutting their incomes resulted in several protests and struggles in several countries in Europe. There is change of Governments due to the popular unrest in Egypt and other Arab countries. The USA and its allies intervened in Arab countries to have domination in that area for having control on the oil resources. The killing of Gadafi in Libya is a part of this strategy. Japan also facing the problem of low growth. The growth rates in China and India are comparatively higher than that of USA and European countries, but slowing down due to the low growth or no growth in USA and Europe.

2012 is expected to be a time more difficult than 2011.There is a possibility of the world again facing a recession. In any case the prediction is that the economies will grow much slower in 2012 compared to 2011. A serious discussion and search is going on in USA, Europe and India for coming out of this situation and for reviving the economies. But this search is mainly with in the confines of the domination of the finance capital which is not interested in growth. The Governments in USA, Europe and India and the parties in power and in opposition dominating the political scene are representing and controlled by the finance capital. Hence they are unable to find any real solution.

To come out of this situation and to revive the growth, it is necessary for the economies to come out of the destructive grip of the finance capital. The Governments should tax the rich more and incur expenditure for developing industry and agriculture. If necessary the Governments should resort to expanding money supply to increase the demand. This is what was suggested by the famous economist Keynes. But such demand management is being prevented by the domination of the finance capital.The finance capital that is dominating the world now has insisted and succeeded in imposing a limit on fiscal deficit of 3% of the GDP in several countries including India. This means Governments are prohibited from increasing the demand and creating the employment beyond the limit of 3% of the GDP, over and above its revenue. But the revenue of the Governments are decreasing relatively since the finance capital compels the Governments to impose less taxes and to grant more concessions in taxes on the capitalists.  Therefore due to this domination of the international finance capital, the Governments in capitalist countries are prevented from resolving the problem of low growth or no growth by increasing the demand by increasing the supply of money.

The only solution possible to revive the economies is to liberate the world from the grip of this finance capital. But the domination of the finance capital at global level is not due to the mistake done by this or that Government, but it is the result of the development of the Capitalist system, and it is the law of the capitalist system. hence its domination can be ended with the ending of the capitalist system. Till then only temporary reliefs can be achieved by struggles compelling the Governments to do some thing for increasing the demand and employment or the dominant imperialist countries will try to come out of this situation by resorting to wars(to create the demand for weapons), by looting the natural resources(Oil in Arab countries) minerals in third world countries etc and by destroying the small peasants in countries like India.
Therefore in the new year 2012 the task is to carry out the fight to see that there is increase in the demand and employment by pressurizing the Governments to tax the rich more and to expend more for creating employment. The ultimate aim of the struggle should be to change the capitalist system itself.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Utilising Social Media Networks For Working Class Struggles

The phenomenon of the trade unions and working class utilizing the social network media for their organization and struggles is growing every day around the world. Mobile SMS, Facebook, Twitter etc are used to mobilize opinion. The internet and communication technologies are helping in organizing big mobilizations in several countries.

The mobile phones have become the "weapons of the weak" in their mobilization to fight for their demands. Using the social media and communication technologies, huge mobilizations were organized in Egypt that resulted in changing the Government. Occupy Wall Street movement in America was organized using the social media. Huge demonstrations with thousands of people were organized in Russia recently against the fraud in the elections and the communications technologies are used for these mobilizations.
Though the working class in India has started to use communications technologies like internet, mobile phones etc for their organisations, it is not yet in a big way.
Since the working class is paying the heavy price for all that is going wrong with the finance capital dominated globalized world economy and since the crisis in the economies of the advanced countries like USA and European countries is adversely effecting the economies and the conditions of the working class in the developed countries like India, it is necessary for the working class to know the happenings and to respond to the happenings quickly and to organize their struggles with much greater mobilizations. Traditional ways of communication for organizing the struggles are not sufficient for this purpose.
Therefore it is very much necessary for the trade unions to cultivate the culture of utilizing the modern communications technologies and social networks for organising effective mobilizations for strengthening the working class struggles.
Workers of the world, Unite and Text! You have "virtually" nothing to lose!
(Based on the article "Class Struggle Moves Into Cyber Space", published in "The Hindu Business Line" dated 28-12-2011)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Telecom Commission's decisions

The Telecom Commission, the highest decision making body of the Telecom Department, in its meeting held on 26th December 2011 considered the TRAI's recommendations and took the following decisions on those recommendations:

a) A one time fee will be levied on the telecom companies for the 2G spectrum held by them beyond 6.2 MHz.(The TRAI recommended for payment of Rs 4571 crores on each MHz spectrum beyond 6.2 MHz, on a pro-rata basis. It is estimated that the telecom operators have to pay more than Rs 17500 crores for this, to the Government. )

b) Mergers and Acquisitions will get automatic clearance if the combined market share of the entity is not more than 35% and spectrum held is not more than 25%. When the market share of the combined entity is more than 35% and less than 60%, the TRAI will examine the case and will give its recommendation to avoid "monopoly".

c) The License Fee was fixed as annual revenue share of 8% against the existing 6% to 10% share depending on the service/region and this will be implemented in two phases over two years.

d) The telecom tower companies and internet service providers who are not paying annual license fee till now, have to pay this 8% on their revenue as license fee hereafter.

Other decisions pertaining to telecom sector will be finalized by the Telecom Commission within a week.

The Telecom Commission will send all these decisions to the Minister for C&IT Kapil Sibal and subsequently will be sent for the approval of the Cabinet.

But, as I detailed in my blog entry dated 22-12-2011, the merger of AT&T  having 27% of the market share with T-Mobile having 17% market share was not allowed in USA since the 44% market share of the combined entity would result in monopoly. In such case why the Telecom Commission is supporting the recommendation of the TRAI allowing 35% market share for the combined entity automatically and upto 60% with the recommendation of the TRAI? At present Airtel is having 23% of the market share, Vodafone  is having 19% of the market share and they are making agreements like intra circle roaming agreements although such agreements are illegal, to dominate the market. In such case, allowing market share upto 35% automatically and upto 60% with the recommendation of TRAI is nothing but encouraging monopoly which is against the interest of the customers. The Minister and the Cabinet should not allow this.



Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Indian Telecom Sector in 2011- A review


Following are the important happenings/trends in the Indian Telecom Sector during 2011. The source for this information is the  annexure to the  Letter dated 14th November 2011 written by Sri Rajiv Chandrasekhar Member Rajyasabha to the Prime Minister, with certain modifications:
a)     Mobile tariffs have gone up to the extent of 20%
b)  The increase in teledensity slowed down-between November 2009 to August 2010, approximately 18.2 crore subscribers were added where as during November 2010 to August 2011 only 15.9 crores were added—a decline of 12.6%
c)      Massive market failures-new entrants failed to keep prices in check or improve the quality of services. On the other hand they caused loss to the exchequer(2G scam) and hoarded the spectrum-95% of the market is held by the old operators.
d)    Rollout of telecom networks slowed down substantially. The net subscriber additions fell down and during July-August 2011 the additions were a mere 66 lakhs and 73 lakhs-the lowest in nearly 4 years.
e)  Rural teledensity increased at a slower than expected rate-based on VLR data(actual number of subscribers utilising the services), the rural teledensity is merely 22% or approximately 20 crores out of the 70 crore rural population. This means over 50 crores of the rural population still do not have a mobile phone. TRAI recognized this failure in its recommendations of 3rd November 2011.
f)       Broadband failure continues to be abysmal—during September 2010 to August 2011, the increase in broadband subscribers was from 10.29 million to 12.69 million—a mere 23% growth, far below the targeted growth.
g)     DND(Do Not Disturb) failed to deter pesky sms/unsolicited commercial calls
h)     MNP largely ineffective—neither lowered the tariffs nor improved the quality of service. On the other hand tariff was increased by 20%.
i)       Government failed to implement the recommendation of collecting an additional income of Rs 10000 crores from the existing telecom operators for the additional spectrum held by them beyond the contracted amount, even though the TRAI gave the recommendation for collecting the amount, vide its recommendations dated 8-2-2011.
j)       As per the COAI-PWC report(Cellular Operators Association of India and the consultancy house PriceWaterCooperrs), there will be a decline of FDI(Foreign Direct Investment) in telecom sector in India from 2.6 bullion US dollars in 2010 to 1.7 billion US dollars in 2011, a decline of 35%.
k)     The viability of telecom industry has deteriorated as per the COAI-PWC report. There is a decline in average revenue per minute, minutes of usage, and ARPU(average revenue per user). Sector revenues were stagnating after adjusting for inflation. Operating and network expenses were up in most cases. Indebtedness remains high, net profit margins are down, and returns on capital employed is dangerously low—all these parameters further deteriorated in 2011.
l)       Not a single license has been cancelled by the Government although thee TRAI recommended on 18-11-02010 for cancellation of about 70 licenses due to the failure of the concerned operators in rolling out their networks as per the license conditions.
m)  Not a single license has been cancelled during 2011 following the CAG’s report that 85 licenses involved fraudulent accessing of spectrum(2G spectrum scam)
n)     Proposed NTP 2011-only the draft was released in 2011, but not finalized in 2011.
o)     Government failed to implement TRAI’s recommendations on spectrum, Mergers and Acquisitions and licensing, which have been pending since 18 months
p)     Failed to clearly decide the quantity of the contracted spectrum for the licenses given to the  operators-whether it was 4.4 MHz or 6.2 MHz
q)     Further decline in the market share of BSNL and MTNL, in the mobile telephony sector, from 12.13% in August 2010 to 11.66% in August 2011(both together)
r)      No corrective action worthwhile taken to secure the network for preventing the leakage of top secret information
s)      Officials guilty of malpractice identified in the justice Shivraj Committee report on 2G spectrum allocation –no action taken against them
t)       The contention of the MoCIT(Minister for Communications&IT) that there was no loss on account of 2G spectrum scam was rejected outrightly by political parties,media and citizens as well as by the Hon’ble judge of the special CBI court on 2G scam.
u)     The Government’s contention that Swan/Unitech transactions with Etisalaat and Uninor  represent equity infusion and not windfall gains and not a loss to the exchequer was rejected. The CBI Special Judge, while framing charges on 22nd October 2011 concluded that”the two companies obtained wrongful pecuniary advantage to the extent of Rs 7105 crores and in furtherance to the said conspiracy and in consideration of grant of UAS license.”



Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Merry Christmas To Everybody


"Let us remember that the Christmas heart is a giving heart, a wide open heart that thinks of others first. The birth of the baby Jesus stands as the most significant event in all history, because it has meant the pouring into a sick world of the healing medicine of love which has transformed all manner of hearts for almost two thousand years... Underneath all the bulging bundles is this beating Christmas heart."
--George Mathhew Adams

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.
Norman Vincent Peale
Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.
Hamilton Wright Mabi

Christmas - that magic blanket that wraps itself about us, that something so intangible that it is like a fragrance. It may weave a spell of nostalgia. Christmas may be a day of feasting, or of prayer, but always it will be a day of remembrance - a day in which we think of everything we have ever loved.
Augusta E. Rundel