The 2G scam is a controversial story that I have tried to stay away from as long as possible. But given the huge implication this case have both in India and Norway, I think I just have to talk about it. Let me just quickly point out that I have no relation to any of the involved companies and no special insight into this case. I only refer what I have read in the media, both in India and in Norway.
What I think make this case quite interesting, and very different from the case about differences in childcare is that it is basically two different cases that are interlinked. While the other case was one case with different interpretations, this is something different, and this also surely involves a lot more money, so it is one (or rather two) really big cases. On one side it is mentioned as maybe the costliest Norwegian investment abroad aver and at the other side it is mentioned as the biggest scam ever in India. So let me briefly take you through both stories.
I will start with the Norwegian case, even if that is maybe not correct from a time point of view. Telenor is the clearly biggest telecom operator in Norway, and operates in a number of other countries like Russia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Thailand. In October 2008 it was announced that Telenor would start the company Uninor together with the Indian operator Unitech Wireless. In December 2009 Uninor started to operate in 8 regions in India. Today they operate in 13 out of 22 regions, and also have licenses to operate in the remaining regions. Totally Uninor have 122 licenses in India. Uninor have about 36 million clients in India. Telenor is listed at Oslo Stock Exchange and partly owned by the Norwegian government. The fact that the government is involved here makes this case a big political issue. Early in February it was known that the Indian Supreme Court have withdrawn ALL of the licenses that Uninor have. Telenor was quickly to put up a press release where they stated that the decision in the Supreme Court was “shocking” and they feel they have been “treated unfair”. I must quickly point out that Telenor have not been accused of doing anything illegal in India.
The other part of the story, the Indian part, on the other hand, is about the big corruption scandal, and involves Unitech Wireless and the way they have got the licenses. This story goes all the way back to January 2012, when Unitech and other companies got their licenses. At that time the minister of telecom, mister A Raja sold the licenses to Unitech and other companies at a price that seems to be much lower than the market price. Why this was done is still unclear, but there is surely talk about corruption here. And this is why the Supreme Court has now withdrawn the licenses given to Unitech and other companies. In India the discussion is not at all about Telenor and that they might risk to lose a lot of money. It is all about corruption and how politicians could allow giving these licenses at such a low price. Rumors (which I cannot say whether are true or not) says that a lot of people in the Indian parliament knew about this, maybe even the Prime Minister! If this is actually the case, what chances does he have to survive this? A lot is untold in this case, and I guess it will give input to quite a few more blog posts in the near future… You can read more about the Indian part of the story at 2G Scam the real story and 2G Spectrum Scam
And I think it is quite telling that one of my fellow blogger friends here in Mumbai who right now writes “A to Z of Mumbai” claims that C is for corruption. Thanks a lot Richard! You sum up my blog post very well for me. I owe you a beer mate.
Talk to you soon