“Auction of spectrum would have prevented 2G scam”

Renowned economist Jagdish Bhagwati today said the use of "market-using" reforms would have prevented the gargantuan 2G spectrum scandal.

Last Updated: Dec 22, 2011, 22:51 PM IST

New Delhi: Renowned economist Jagdish
Bhagwati today said the use of "market-using" reforms would
have prevented the gargantuan 2G spectrum scandal.
"...if, the market-using reforms had been used in
allocating the 2G spectrum by auctioning it off, the scandal
would not have arisen," the senior Columbia University fellow
said during the 24th Intelligence Bureau Endowment lecture on
`Designing Institutions for Governance Reform` here.

Referring to scepticism over governance issues, he said
"it has been distressing for all thoughtful Indians to have
been witnessed recently to the gargantuan 2G spectrum
scandal...".

Market-using reforms, he said would also have contained
the illegal mining scams in states like Andhra Pradesh, Orissa
and Jharkhand.

"Insistence on tenders before the award of lucrative
public sector contracts would also reduce corruption: a lesson
we should have learnt from the furore over the Enron contract
in Maharashtra," Bhagwati said.

Stressing upon the need of further economic reforms, he
said, "The continuing inability of the government to advance
the reform agenda exemplified by the inept political handling
of the now-shelved retail sector initiative by the UPA
government..." has been distressing for Indians.

Noting that reforms put India on growth path, Bhagwati
said efforts should be made to provide opportunities to poor
and marginalized segments for their economic upliftment.
Bhagwati said "accelerated growth rate drew more of our
people above the poverty line. It is a common sense...that a
stagnant economy will not reduce poverty while a growing
economy will".

He, however, stressed upon adopting a more inclusive
system for economic growth so that poor can partake more
effectively of the opportunities for economic improvement that
India`s reformed economy provides.
"This means, most of all making education possible for
them," Bhagwati added.

The noted economist said the inventions of cheap laptops
and the use of IT technology to exploit scale economies to
bring education at low cost to the many poor are scientific
innovation that the country badly need.
Bhagwati called upon HRD, IT and Telecom Minister Kapil
Sibal to bring "an ambitious programme to bring educational
access to the poor".
The noted scholar said the economic disparity in the
country could lead to political instability.
"This is likely to happen when there is ostentatious
display of wealth and path of the poor to riches is not easy,"
he said.

PTI