"The 3G spectrum auction last year has shown that auction of spectrum is the best way forward. E-auction helps all parties and public to know what had really happened and why should we not use it in all the government process," Sam Pitroda, advisor to the prime minister said
Edison (New Jersey): Sam Pitroda, advisor to the prime minister, on Monday favoured an open and transparent e-auction system for all government auctions and tenders, including the sale of spectrum bandwidth to telecom providers, to avoid any legal hassle and bad name to the government, reports PTI.
Talking to PTI on Sunday on his way to Chicago after a visit to New York to address the two-day pan-IIT Conference, Mr Pitroda, a tech guru considered the architect of India's modern telecom revolution, said: "We have to learn from the past actions and happenings."
"The government and the industry will get the best out of it. We need to use electronics and open transparent process and have e-procurement. Why should we indulge in old methods of auction when we have modern technology at our disposal?" he queried.
In this regard, Mr Pitroda noted the 3G auction in the country last year was transparent and there were no complications whatsoever in the bidding process.
Steps should be taken to implement e-auction and modern technology in all government auctions and tenders, he emphasised.
"The 3G spectrum auction last year has shown that auction of spectrum is the best way forward. E-auction helps all parties and public to know what had really happened and why should we not use it in all the government process," he said.
"When technology is available and India is on top, what prevents us from going ahead with the e-auctions and dispense with the old and antiquated system of tenders and procurements?" he asked.
Mr Pitroda had last year submitted a report to prime minister Manmohan Singh on measures to revive state-run telecom major BSNL, but so far, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has not commented on or implemented the recommendations in the report.
DoT has kept mum on the proposals such as implementing a hire-and-fire policy for inefficient staff and reduction of excess employees in a bid to revamp the ailing BSNL and gear it up to meet the competition of private sector telecom companies.
However, he refused to comment on the ongoing 2G controversy.
Sam Pitroda is an internationally renowned development thinker, telecom inventor and entrepreneur who has 44 years of experience in the information and communications technology arena and related human and national developments.
Credited with laying the foundations and ushering in India's technology and telecommunications revolution in the 1980s, Mr Pitroda has been a leading campaigner for bridging the global digital divide.
During his tenure as advisor to prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in the 1980s, Mr Pitroda headed six technology missions related to telecommunications, water, literacy, immunisation, dairy farming and oil seeds.
He was also the founder and first chairman of India's Telecom Commission.
Mr Pitroda is also the chairman of India's National Knowledge Commission, an advisory body to the prime minister of India, set up to provide a blueprint of reforms in knowledge-related institutions and infrastructure in the country.
The commission has offered a series of recommendations on various aspects of the knowledge paradigm to help India meet the challenges of the 21st century.
He is currently advisor to the prime minister of India on Public Information Infrastructure and Innovations.
He holds close to 100 worldwide patents and has published papers and delivered lectures in the US, Europe, Latin America and Asia.
For a dedicated Mumbai Airport bus shuttle, here are a few approaches that can be considered to make it an economically-viable success
Mumbai is a remarkable city in many ways. It has an airport which is almost in the centre of the city. It has one of the highest usage rates of public transport for commuting. It has one of the lowest available areas of road space per 1,000 persons/vehicle. Buses and trains together account for more than a crore trips/day and public transport share is perhaps the highest in absolute numbers and percentage of total trips in any city in the world. Travelling by bus is not considered infra dig by most in Mumbai.
There is every reason for Mumbaikars to use a bus to go and return from the airport. Such bus services are available in cities such as London, New York, Paris, Rome, Tokyo, Singapore and also in cities like Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkata and Hyderabad in India too.
Mumbai airport—like the city—is perhaps the most congested airport in India. This is one more reason why we must have a proper bus service to and from the airport to various parts of the city. Today, about 60,000 passengers travel to international destinations every day whereas travellers to Indian destinations amount to over 1,00,000 per day. Typically, most international flights operate during the night and domestic destinations are served from early morning at 5.30am to 11pm in the night. I have been writing to MIAL (Mumbai International Airport Ltd) and BEST for the past three years about a bus service to the airport but there has been a very indifferent response.
Moneylife should be complimented for giving a thrust to this demand (please scroll below for related articles). It is very strange that BEST should have shown a lack of interest in such a service, demanding that unless an exclusive bus lane is provided, it cannot start such a service. This is an absurd position. An airport service will serve as a precursor for dedicated bus lanes in a variety of forms for Mumbai. BEST (together with NMMT, or Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport, and TMT, or Thane Municipal Transport) should have the first option to provide such a service and if these entities are not willing, the option should be offered to private operators to provide such a service. BEST has now over 300 A/C buses and it can't deploy them in an efficient and profitable manner. The current A/C buses which ply shorter distances, carry fewer passengers and don't earn more revenue than ordinary buses per day—when the fares for A/C buses and the investment in an A/C bus are quite high as compared to an ordinary bus.
Today ordinary buses do operate via airports, but not from/to the airports. They are not very easily accessible for passengers with bags and not at the arrival/departure areas which are accessible only for cars and taxis. Prepaid taxis are expensive and the quality of service leaves much to be desired. It is also not easy to get fleet taxies operated by Meru, Mega and other brands. While the new management at the airport is making it easier for people to board cars (provided they have drivers!), there is no thought given to a bus as an option.
In the past—about 30 years back, there used be a private bus service—first operated by Indian Airlines and then the Ex-Servicemen's Co-op Society. But now there is no visible bus service while the number of passengers is rising very rapidly—over 12% annually! Today the airport handles more passengers than CST and Mumbai Central railway stations taken together. A bus service has to evolve over a period of time. But to begin with, we can run three routes from both terminals of the airport to south Mumbai up to Colaba, to the east up to Thane/Vashi and to the northeast up to Borivali (West). All these routes would have a length of about 40km to 50km from the airport. During the night, the round trip should be between 3 hours to 4 hours include stoppage time at both ends-this schedule can be maintained during the night. During the day, the trip time would increase by about 30% due to traffic congestion. I believe that taxis or cars won't run much faster—these vehicles would save perhaps about 15 to 20 minutes. They provide point-to-point services and that is difficult for buses to achieve. But still there is a large segment of passengers and other visitors who will utilise this bus service if we provide last-mile connectivity such as availability of taxis and autos at the stops of such a service, which is not difficult, especially during the night when parking would not be an issue. Taxi fares for final destinations like Vashi (Navi Mumbai) or Colaba (south Mumbai) or Borivali are as high as Rs500 (and more) for prepaid services in non-A/C taxies. The airport management has reduced the time between landing and exit to about 30/40 minutes. But it takes 10/15 minutes to get a taxi. The fare is only a part of the rationale for the bus service. Offering safe, reliable transportation for single persons is another.
Information, promotion and advertising are key ingredients
For a service like this to be useful and a very good alternative to unreliable taxis, we need to provide not only a number of good A/C buses but also a lot of information at the airport, on the stops and on the bus. There should be a route map and timetable for the service. We should also provide a GPS (Global Positioning System) which should tell the prospective passengers—especially at the intermediate stops—as to when the next bus would arrive. This is neither very expensive nor difficult. It should be first introduced at the airport bus service and then extended to all A/C and corridor-bus routes. This can be done both at the stops and via mobile phones through appropriate software. This service should be provided by BEST, TMT and NMMT services through an SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle) or a proper arrangement can be put in place for sharing common infrastructure, and these services can operate on the commonly agreed routes.
The state government should take a lead and ensure that we don't waste time in turf battles. Expenses on information infrastructure, provision of GPS, advertising and promotion must be treated as considered common infrastructure (just like providing roads) and should not be charged to the bus operator (whether it is BEST or MIAL). Similarly, all the information that is to be provided inside the airport must be the responsibility of MIAL as public transport must be considered as common public infrastructure.
Promotion, information on buses, stops, airport terminal billboards and media advertising are all very critical and must be given great importance and should not be ignored at all. This is the core issue, without which this will not achieve the kind of success it deserves, and this bus service has to usher in a virtuous cycle in the city—and hence it is all the more important.
(Ashok Datar is a Mumbai-based Transport activist).
You may also want to read:
For Mumbai Airport is a private bus shuttle the only solution?
Mumbai Airport does not have a shuttle service while other metros have excellent connections from their airports to cities
BEST will start a dedicated Mumbai Airport shuttle but it wants a dedicated lane
Why is the government of Maharashtra reluctant to address the Mumbai airport transport issue?
The MLM company’s office in Kerala was closed after police action, for duping people. However, it continues to do business in other cities, particularly in Navi Mumbai
Even as the Kerala government has come down heavily on multi-level marketing (MLM) schemes, many such companies are continuing their operations in other states and cities. PI Marketing Private Limited (PIPL) or Penta World India, which is under the radar of the Kerala Police, is one such company—which is rapidly expanding in Navi Mumbai.
PIPL has a business model similar to a typical MLM scheme. It promises income after the initial buyer introduces people to buy its product. The level of income increases as the number of people under the initial buyer increases. These binary incentives can fetch you Rs1,000 to Rs1.30 lakh in 12 weeks. The company claims, "PIPL compensation plan is designed to reward everyone at all levels of activity, from the part-time distributor to those that are participating full time."
The joining package of the company starts from Rs5,490. For the binary incentive, there is a ceiling of Rs1.30 lakh per week. Like every other MLM company, PIPL is no exception when it comes to direct referral bonus. The level of such income varies according to the product package.
For the daily binary income, for introducing one pair—the 'left and right hand' side, a 30-pair value (PV) is given, which is the equivalent of Rs300 (1PV= Rs10). The maximum daily income from such an incentive is Rs1,200.
There are various product packages, ranging from Rs1,000 to Rs19,000—with products ranging from vegetable cutters to insurance policies, water purifiers to suit packages. Each product kit 'earns' income either from daily binary, regular binary, e-commerce binary, compressed matrix, sponsor loyalty, or direct referral.
Besides, the company also rewards its members with sponsor loyalty, monthly royalty and foreign trips if a certain target is achieved by the distributor. PIPL has designated ranks and rewards. On achieving a certain target, a distributor may be gifted with cars —which include a Maruti Swift to Volkswagen vehicles, among others.
Experts point out that such tall claims made by MLM companies are workable only in the short-run. From the long-term perspective, such schemes are bound to fail.
PIPL also claims to be in the e-commerce business, offering discounts and points on the purchased product.
Meanwhile, there are a few complaints on the Internet from people who have fallen for the scheme against the company, for being cheated by PIPL.
Again, as Moneylife has been repeatedly pointing out, when will such pyramid or MLM schemes be banned for ever by the powers-that-be?