The Tata group chief has replied to the open letter written by promoter of BPL Mobile and Rajya Sabha MP in a very hard-hitting manner, something unheard of from the group. But in the end, Mr Tata has also pulled the BJP-led NDA regime into the 2G spectrum allocation controversy
Industrialist Rata Tata has in a hard-hitting response said that the open letter written by Rajeev Chandrashekhar, member of parliament (MP), is nothing but the current trend of attempted character assassination through widespread media publicity, couched in pain and concern for upholding ethics and values. The reply by Mr Tata and a counter-reply by Mr Chandrashekhar has ignited a new public debate that everyone, including the media, is keenly watching.
In a letter (a copy of which is with Moneylife), Mr Tata said," Your (Mr Chandrashekhar's) letter is based on untruths and distortion of facts and l feel compelled to place the real facts, as bluntly as possible before you. l hope this will also be broadly disseminated to the same audience as your letter. l am of course well aware that some media houses will choose not to publish or air my response in deference of their owners, who are the real gainers in the telecom sector, with whom you have unfortunately aligned to provide a massive diversion of attention away from the real culprits in the telecom space."
"Your (Mr Chandrashekhar) affiliation with a particular political party is well known and it appears that their political aspirations and their endeavour to embarrass the Prime Minister and the ruling party may well have been the motivation behind your letter and the insinuations which you make," the Tata group chairman said in the letter.
He further said Mr Chandrashekhar approached him to sign an appeal to the then prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, then deputy prime minister Lal Krishna Advani and then finance minister Jaswant Singh, not to allow fixed mobile service providers to provide mobile services. Mr Tata said," l am also enclosing a copy of my letter to Mr Vajpayee dated 12 January 2001, in which l advocated an open, transparent process giving all parties a chance to be heard-a stance that I have not changed till date. This had angered you and the other operators who were not interested in a level playing field and lobbied aggressively through COAI to ensure that a technologically agnostic environment would not come to pass." (COAI stands for Cellular Operators Association of India.)
In his reply today to Mr Tata's letter, Mr Chandrashekhar said, "I am only disappointed, but no longer surprised, that in sharp contrast to my efforts to go out of the way to keep this debate relating to facts and policy discussions-your letter is intensely personal, attributes feeble motives (including amusing political ones) and is most unbecoming of the House of Tatas. I can only think that this is a lapse in good judgment. I particularly find your self-appointed defence of the Prime Minister and Government very irrelevant."
The whole episode of allegations and counter-allegations erupted when the Niira Radia tapes were leaked and published by sections of the media. In some tapes, it is reported that Mr Tata was discussing some issues with Ms Radia, who is known as a lobbyist. Incidentally, it is Ms Radia's firm, Vaishnavi Corporate Communications, which handles all public relations (PR) for the Tata group.
Defending the decision to appoint an external agency as PR service provider, Mr Tata said that about 10 years ago the group was under attack in a media campaign to defame its ethics and value systems and it was instituted and sustained through an unholy nexus between certain corporates and the media through selected journalists.
"As Tatas did not enjoy any such 'captive connections' in this environment, the Tata Group had no option but to seek an external agency focused at projecting its point of view in the media and countering the misinformation and vested interest viewpoints which were being expressed. Vaishnavi was commissioned for this purpose and has operated effectively since 2001," the Tata group chief said.
Calling the present situation in the telecom industry and political scenario as a "smokescreen", Mr Tata said, "When the present sensational smokescreen dies down, as it will, and the true facts emerge, it will be for the people of India to determine who are the culprits that enjoy political patronage and protection and who actually subvert policy and who have dual standards. I can hold my head high and say that neither the Tata Group nor l have at any time been involved in any of these misdeeds."
"The selective reporting and your (Mr Chandrashekhar's) own selective focus appear to be diversionary actions to deflect attention away from the real issue which plagues the telecom industry, in the interest of a few powerful politically connected operators. Perhaps it is time that you (Mr Chandrashekhar) and members of the media do some introspection and soul searching as to whether you (Mr Chandrashekhar) have been serving your masters or serving the general public at large," the Tata group chairman added.
Click here to see the letter written by Mr Ratan Tata to Mr Rajeev Chandrashekhar.
New Delhi: A day after the Supreme Court favoured the probe into the second generation (2G) scam covering the time since 2001, the government today announced setting up of a one-man panel to look into the spectrum allocation procedures and policies during 2001-2009, a period that includes NDA regime, reports PTI.
Announcing the decision, telecom minister Kapil Sibal told reporters that the one-man committee of retired Supreme Court Justice Shivraj V Patil, will “examine appropriateness of procedures (adopted) by the Department of Telecom (DoT) in the issuances of licences and allocation of spectrum during the period 2001-2009.”
Incidentally, Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata also sought a probe into spectrum allocation since 2001 saying the maximum flip-flops in the telecom policy occurred during the BJP rule.
He also alleged that change from auction to revenue sharing for telecom operators at that time could have caused a loss of Rs50,000 crore to the exchequer, going by the yardsticks adopted by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) for 2G spectrum.
The inquiry by the one-man committee is likely to be completed within four weeks so that the government knows the entire gamut of procedures adopted for grant of spectrum not only to 122 licencees (by former Telecom minister A Raja in 2008) but also before that, both in the category of start-up and additional spectrum.
Once the government has the inquiry findings with it, a decision would be taken on how to move forward. “(The) objective is to tell people of this country that how the spectrum was given and we will put this in the public domain,” he added.
During 2001-04, the BJP-led NDA government was at the Centre. Former telecom minister A Raja had been saying that he only followed the policies of his predecessors. Mr Raja was forced to resign last month in the wake of CAG report that put the revenue loss to the exchequer at Rs1.76 lakh crore for distributing licences in 2008 at 2001 prices.
Mr Sibal also clarified that a one-man committee had nothing to do with issuing show-cause notices to alleged ineligible applicants, which he said was a separate exercise.
There are several terms of references, which will be finalised with the one-man committee, Mr Sibal said, adding that the committee will look into various procedures followed in issuing licences during the 2001-09 period.
When asked about the objective of such a committee when the government auditor CAG has already given its report, Mr Sibal said, “CAG is a constitutional body, it has recommendatory authority. They (CAG) have given the report and the same is being examined by the Parliamentary Panel.”
“Broadly speaking, we are looking at the internal departmental procedures adopted by the DoT during the period 2001-09 with the issuance of telecom, access service licences and allocation of spectrum to all telecom access service licencees during the above period,” the minister said.
New Delhi: Faced with dwindling sales, Tata Motors today announced a four-year or 60,000 kilometre manufacturing warranty on its small car Nano in a bid to woo more customers, reports PTI.
Bettering its previous warranty of 18-month or 24,000 km, whichever is earlier, announced in March last year, the company said the new offer will come at no extra cost.
“The Tata Nano will now come with a four-year/60,000 km (whichever is earlier) manufacturer's warranty, at no extra cost. Besides being applicable on new deliveries, the warranty is also being extended to all existing owners of the car,” the company said in a statement.
The company said all new Nano customers will have an option to avail a “comprehensive maintenance contract” at Rs99 per month.
From a sale of 9,000 units in July, Nano deliveries fell in every following month and touched a low of 509 units in November. Sporadic incidents of the small car catching fire has made it difficult for the company to push Nanos sales, despite a number of assurances through various campaign initiatives.
Tata Motors earlier this month had asked Nano buyers to bring back their cars to add safety devices free of cost to prevent the vehicles from catching fire but insisted it was not a recall.
Even after registering 85% fall in sales at just 509 units in November this year, Tata Motors claimed that deliveries have “substantially increased in the first five states of open sales.”
“Customer satisfaction studies with current Tata Nano owners indicate that over 80% are satisfied or very satisfied with the car, because of it being small yet spacious, its performance, manoeuvrability, durability, mileage and safety,” Tata Motors claimed.
In August, the sixth incident of a Nano catching fire since its launch was reported from the National Capital, three months after a company probe declared the car was “absolutely safe”. Five previous such incidents were reported from across the country, including Mumbai, Lucknow, Delhi and near Vadodara in Gujarat.
After ramping up production at its Sanand facility, the firm started open bookings at many places such as Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
However, due to rising input costs it raised the Nano prices twice for the off-the-shelf customers. It has so far delivered over 71,000 units.