Recommendations on spectrum auction by 15 April 2012: Trai

Trai, in its draft guidelines on unified licences, has proposed a fee of Rs20 crore for a national-level unified licence under the new regime

Telecom regulator Trai will give the recommendations on spectrum auction before 15 April 2012, its chairman J S Sarma said.

“We should be able to give recommendation on this (auction of spectrum) before 15 April 2012,” Sarma told reporters here.

The recommendations are expected to give guidance on key issues including base price of spectrum, amount of spectrum that should be allocated to a bidder and eligible participants.

On the Unified Licensing regime, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India chairman said recommendations for it should be submitted by next week.

“I think by next week, we should be giving out recommendations for Unified Licence,” Sarma said.

In the recommendations, Trai is expected to give out detailed guidelines on unified licences that will be issued to all telecom companies in future and will be delinked from spectrum.

Trai, in its draft guidelines on unified licences, has proposed a fee of Rs20 crore for a national-level unified licence under the new regime.

Under the new regime, it is proposed that there would be only four types of licences as against many across the communications sector at present.

Trai had issued consultation paper on 'Auction of Spectrum' on 7 March 2012.

The regulator in this paper had sought industry views on a host of topics like the amount of spectrum to be auctioned, liberalisation and refarming of spectrum in 800/900 MHz bands, structure of auction and eligibility criteria for participation. Spectrum block size, reserve price, roll-out obligations, spectrum usage charges and trading were the other issues.

The consultation paper showed 60 Mhz and 413.6 Mhz of spectrum will be vacated in 800 Mhz and 1800 Mhz spectrum bands respectively, from the cancellation of 122 2G licences ordered by the Supreme Court in February.

In the consultation paper issued, Trai has put forward various models that can be used for auction.

Similarly, for deciding minimum value for spectrum to start auction, Trai has not specifically indicated price but has asked for a model that should be used for determining the base price.

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TAFE posts consolidated revenues of Rs8,020 crore in FY12

While industry average growth in November-March was 0.66%, TAFE clocked an average growth of 28.58% during the same period, a TAFE statement said

Beating the industry trend, world’s third largest tractor manufacturer, Tractors and Farm Equipment Ltd (TAFE), reported 30.4% growth from Rs6,149 crore in 2010—11 to Rs8,020 crore in consolidated revenues for the financial year ended 31 March 2012.

 Overall tractor sales increased sharply by 26.6% at 1,48,112 tractors, as against an estimated industry sale of 6,07,213 tractors and an industry growth of 11.4% for the year. While industry average growth in November-March was 0.66%, TAFE clocked an average growth of 28.58% during the same period, a company statement said.

 Announcing these results, Ms Mallika Srinivasan, chairman and CEO, TAFE, said, “We are happy that our focus on product development and expansion of our product portfolio has paid off. Our investments in product and process technologies, improvements to our product mix supported by extensive field effort helped us meet the demands of our discerning customers.”

On the export front, TAFE continues to be India’s largest exporter of tractors with 20,396 completely built tractors exported to 73 countries, a growth of 28.2% over the previous year, apart from kits and aggregates exported during the year.

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Public Interest Exclusive
How did your train do this summer?

Nowhere else can we travel on an extensive railway system at prices anywhere close to what we have in India. The experience can be richly rewarding on every rail journey. Good luck with rail travel this summer

With the summer holidays fast approaching and prices on air travel shooting through the roof, it is time to look at that old favourite for long distance travel again—Indian Railways. In what some would call its new improved avatar—with more non-stop Durontos, longer Rajdhanis, efficient VFM Garib Raths, restricted stoppage Sampark Krantis and other express trains with more coaches than before, and a wide range of summer specials—trains do provide a better option from a variety of points of view. And not just in terms of cost.
 
Quite a few railway stations in India are now vastly improved and dare one say—better than some airports. You do can move usually from city centre to city centre, without any of that heavy bother of reaching airports located in remote places hours in advance and then paying huge “user development fees” and “airport charges”. Such are often running into thousands of rupees now. And as for the average speed still hovering around in the 50kmph range for most trains and working up to 75kmph/80kmph for the faster Rajdhanis/Shatabdis. Please remember—there is also a larger social good at work here.
 
Fact remains—nowhere else in the reasonable world can we travel on an extensive railway system at prices anywhere close to what we achieve in India. That’s the bottomline. Faster trains = much costlier trains. The upwardly mobile middle class, which had become hooked on to low cost airlines, is discovering high airfares with a shock this season and is reportedly returning in droves to trains, for reasons of price. Those who talk about “bullet trains” are often those for whom price has no meaning, largely because within the Indian system they have got used to travelling free.
 
For the rest of us, many of us, it is back to basics. Trains. Only to discover long waiting lists and an almost impossible state of affairs with last minute tatkal booking. (There can and will be a separate series of articles on the scams in the Passenger Reservation System / PRS)
 
Fact also remains—many people who travel by train in India ‘manage’ their reservations by one means or the other, especially when advance bookings are totally full and waiting lists are as much or more than the capacity itself. This writer has been on both sides of the fence in this context, but increasingly, is perturbed by the fact that the reservation system at the Indian Railways is heavily manipulated for all sorts of ‘quotas’—some valid, and some totally rotten.
 
This single aspect makes the experience terrible. So how do we try to make that experience better, is the point of this article, especially for those who haven’t used a long distance train in a while.
 
(Writer’s note and disclosure—I have had a love affair with trains since childhood. At this age, nothing gives me more joy than spending some portion of a journey in the general unreserved compartment, while true value for money is achieved on a window side lower berth in the ordinary sleeper (non air-conditioned class) of a long distance train. That is not to say I do not enjoy 1st AC either, and that I am not averse to tipping a sanitation worker to sanitise the toilet before I use it, but read on...)
 
# Obviously, the best way to go about things is to plan well in advance, and manage your bookings 120 days ahead. However, this is not feasible for everybody, and on some routes, advance bookings run out on trains within minutes of the train opening up for reservations on your date and route. Typically, Hyderabad-Kolkata, Delhi-Mangalore, Mumbai-Allahabad, Bangalore-Cochin, even Delhi-Mumbai, and many other routes, are routes where reservations in most classes and trains vanish in minutes.
 
# Keep an eye open for the summer specials, especially the ones announced at the last minute, which is easier said than done. Typically, these will be small announcements in the media and almost invisible advertisements in some corner, so here the Internet is your best bet. Some good links are:
Indian Railways Summer Special Trains
E-Rail
Indian Rail Info
Each of these websites is ‘dynamic’ and keep you updated in real time, and maybe some day soon the webmasters and authorities will set up automatic email alerts generated to keep people in the loop.
 
# Don’t lose heart with long waiting lists in Sleeper and AC 3 Tier class, especially for reservation in trains that have a large number of Sleeper and AC 3 Tier coaches. Multiple bookings are quite common, and the waiting lists usually start evaporating 2-3 days ahead of travel date, as people start cancelling tickets to avoid higher penalties. The same is not true in AC 2 Tier and 1AC, because there are a very limited number of these coaches, and much of their capacity goes in ‘quotas’. Frankly, with the roll-back in fares, AC-3 Tier on super-fast and non-stop or restricted stop trains like the Durontos, Rajdhanis, Sampark Krantis and Garib Raths, make a lot of sense.
 
# Assuming now that you are on a huge waiting list 120 or lesser days in advance. Use the RTI Act of India, 2005, to ask for information on the booking position on your specific train, as well as information on seats/berths held back for ‘quotas’. Address this RTI to the CPIO at the Railway Board in Delhi. This will bring your train under observation of the Railway Board, it will spook the zone under which the train runs, and there are good chances that all the hanky-panky will vanish, while the villains who mess with the bookings will leave that train alone.
Tip: If you are concerned, then run the RTI Application in somebody else’s name. The addresses are:
The CPIO under RTI Act of India or incumbent thereof,
Railway Board, New Delhi,
DD (PG) & CPIO (Registration & Coordination)
Room # 05, RTI Cell / Rail Bhavan, New Delhi -110001
email addresses are:- [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]
 
#  Lower berths in 2AC and 1AC are another huge racket with the Indian Railways. Most, if not all of them, are held back by them in the name of HOR (Higher Officer requisition) or VIP quotas. Sometimes, the upper berths in 1AC are not even ‘released’ to paying passengers, because HORs/VIPs are occupying the lower berths. The Railways try to hide this data. This is the subject of another rather complicated RTI application by this writer, a copy of which can be seen by clicking here
 
# Now that you’ve hopefully acquired a confirmed reservation, standard conditions of travel anywhere in the world apply, including all common sense and logical precautions. The advent of almost seamless voice and data communications en route, the proliferation of digital photography, and an experience which can be richly rewarding await you on every rail journey. Yes, often the environs can become crowded, but hey—the other people need to travel too and with a wee bit of the passage of time, everybody ‘adjusts’.
 
Certainly, try and avoid the ‘older’ trains which have had stops added to their schedule over the years for political reasons, or trains which pass through areas with schedules where commuter and student traffic will also board the train. If you are stuck on such a train, then keep your head down, and don't mess with the locals. They are on the same train same route every day.
 
Likewise, there are more variants on rackets and con games on trains now than there were in years gone past, and they have the benefit of modern technology too. Travel light, and please don’t carry your family fortunes with you, simple. Food is another issue, and at the end of the day, home-cooked and preserved vegetarian fare is still the best—along with a ‘surahi’ of water.
 
End game: We can either sit and crib about the state of affairs, including that with the Indian Railways, or we can try to do something about it. It is not for nothing that some dry wit in the Indian Railways nick-named the quota ‘HOR’ a long time ago (evolved from HO quota, by the way). It is also not for nothing that friends of mine who are or have been in the Indian Railways helped me with this article, as they are themselves fed up with this VIP/HOR business, very often they are left with no time for anything else—and let more of us try to imagine what it does to their self-esteem and self-respect as well as dignity.
 
Good luck with rail travel this summer. And subsequently too. Because nothing is more fun than off-season travel on a good train pelting through this wonderful country of ours.
 
PS: MoneyLife Foundation is organising a seminar, Country, Before Party and Self, featuring former railway minister Dinesh Trivedi in Mumbai on 16th April. He will speak on why his budget was important for the Railways and the consequence of coalition politics where key ministries are distributed like fiefs to political allies.

(Veeresh Malik had a long career in the Merchant Navy, which he left in 1983. He has qualifications in ship-broking and chartering, loves to travel, and has been in print and electronic media for over two decades. After starting and selling a couple of companies, is now back to his first love—writing.)

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COMMENTS

K B Patil

5 years ago

Dear Malik,
In the beginning of the article, you have said that you love the experience of travelling in a general unreserved compartment. To me, who has been forced to do that occasionally, the general comparment (especially on long distance trains) can only be compared to Dante's Inferno. It is far better to hitch a ride on a truck. As far as other things you have mentioned in the article, I am in agreement with your line of thinking.
One thing I have to comment upon is that the railways only seem to respond to agitations and violence. When the people of a region are docile, all their demands are ignored. For proof, I have to mention the Bangalore - Solapur line. Except for the Udyan Express which has been the only night train for over 20 years, only one train has been added a few years ago. Even in the monsoon, berths on both trains are booked days in advance and for emergencies, buses are the only option. Despite the discomfort, bus tickets are sometimes priced higher than 3 tier AC berths.

REPLY

malq

In Reply to K B Patil 5 years ago

Dear KB Patil ji, thank you for writing in.

1) I apologise for not articulating this well, but when I wrote about general compartment travel, it was not to romanticise this certainly rough way to travel, but to simply state that it was one place to learn more about India and real Indians.

2) Yes, Bangalore does appear to be kind of neglected as far as rail connectivity to the rest of the country goes. Most certainly the Bangalore to Mumbai and beyond route, including the via Sholapur/Daund or via Belgaum/Mirah options, are not as well served as they should be. I have always wondered why.

regards/VM

sharmila raopn

5 years ago

It has been nostalgic to read about the trains. By the way i don't fly unless there is no other options. :)

surajit som

5 years ago

the article does not give the larger picture. this is a common problem with our brand of journalism. take a basic question:no of travellers is increasing day be day. but what about the number of seats available ? what about some solid data? we just dont want to look at demand-supply mismatch, the macro picture. ultimately we are left to indian jugaad-mentality and "individual planning" (and not collective planning)!!. the housing-syndrome!! what individuals can do in the middle such massive shortages ? a few clever middle-class ones -like me or shri malik-may solve the problem with 120-days planning and RTI applications . what about those countless millions without no education ? no doubt touts and corruption flourish. RTI and all that can not solve the basic problem of supply.look at housing problem. our coal shortage.

our railway needs a massive dose of expansion. like what has happened in mobile telephone. the present infrastructure is basically is the one that was left behind by the British 65 years ago.much is made of railway fare hike. but nobody talks of privatisation. if PSU banks can be listed on the market ,why not railway? cash generated then can be used for expansion and safety measures . what about huge land bank that railways has (any data?) and use that as capital? instead one hears 120-days planning and RTI applications !!! long term problems can never be solved using short-term cleverness and jugaad-approach. supply -housing ,railway, you can name hundreds of items-can only be improved with massive expansion which can come only with long term planning. after all we are a nation of 120 crores of people !!! by the way , railway is not rocket science and it is not very expensive .technology is available in our country. never mind the fact it will give a huge boost to our economy and will generate huge number of jobs. instead of railway expansion for aam aadmi ,we are told of "Bullet Train" for urban fat cats. may be some politicians-and foreign companies- are waiting for some fat commisions.

REPLY

malq

In Reply to surajit som 5 years ago

Dear Surajit Sen, thank you for writing in.

I could have plugged in a large amount of data, much of which is in open domain, but instead aim to try to draw pictures with simple words.

Most certainly solutions are not overnight, nor is the mentality we seem to have of treating our public spaces differently from our private spaces going to vanish rapidly, but starting points exist everywhere.

For the rest, I would rather join the ranks of those who keep trying to do something, howsoever small. The larger issues, those we elect and those who are our lawmakers, we need to leave things to them - and keep checking on them, too. No perform, no continue.

Thank you for writing in.
VM

surajit som

In Reply to malq 5 years ago

@VM
individual efforts are important. but when demand-supply mismatch is so horrendous ,such efforts will have very limited impact.just think of telephone in pre-mobile era.think of the % of people who have access to electricity,road,water,school,hospital at present. in the swanky suburb of Gurgaon , posh apartments go without electricity for days ,dont have sewage connections !!! we need to think of the whole .there is no other way. many of our leaders , journalists and thinking people , dont give the impression that they have the larger picture in their mind.our politics is caste-based and not development-oriented.in Adarsh scam in Mumbai,top ministers and bureaucrats were scheming for flats no bigger than 1000 sq feet. this is the situation we have come to.at this rate we shall soon reach the state of some African countries.i have lived there . then no individuals will be able to make any difference.have no doubt , we are more than capable of thinking big and executing them with world-class efficiency. example ? shreedharan and delhi metro. we need tens of thousands of them.at least let us think in that direction.

Venu Mohan Madhavan

5 years ago

1.The long distance trains and railways stations are becoming dirtier by the day.
They do not seem to cleaning the tracks at Stations any more.
2. In most of the non stop limited stop trains the service staff are also bootleggers. They store and sell alcohol almost fearlessly.
3. Food in long distance trains is becoming of very poor quality.
Just some observations since I traveled long distance by trains in the recent past.

REPLY

malq

In Reply to Venu Mohan Madhavan 5 years ago

Dear VM Madhavan - you are correct, and on some routes, the cleanliness is terrible - but organise a small tip for the staff and watch the coach cleaned inside out - though it is important to point out that some cleanliness has to come from the pax also.

Agreed, the pantry car staff are lately into private enterprise of all sorts, but how does one control that when this is one of the side-results of rampant privatisation in this sector?

On food - carry your own or depend on the station delivery options. Or survive on fresh fruit, boiled eggs and that's that.

I find that one can define one's environment with a wee bit of co-operation from other travellers.

rgds/VM

Venu Mohan Madhavan

In Reply to malq 5 years ago

Dear Sir,
Thanks for your response.
1.I was talking about the tracks in front of the Railway Stations. They are not cleaned of excreta and stinks.
2. Travel in the non ac class is almost un- bearable. Some times it looks like we have become insensitive to the less privileged.... lower class travelers, pedestrians, users of public utilities etc.

malq

In Reply to Venu Mohan Madhavan 5 years ago

Spot on, Madhavan ji, and thank you for writing in about this.

But then, how else are we going to solve these issues, unless we actually participate in the said issues?

Today, offices of even middle and junior level government staff have begun resembling five star suites or corporate dens, but this needs to go downstream to us, the paying public, also.

I hope you appreciate what I am trying to get across.

Regards/VM

anil

5 years ago

to go rural India only older express trains suite. the small stops are and not only or political pressure. for e if u wish to travel akkalkot u can take only chennai mail if wish to avel to nepanagr u eed hwh mail via llahabd and incidentally it;s travel time is lesser than non stopage sperfsat trains.
also on many routes in India there are no day trains to cater for local traffic. while commuters in urban india can take davantage of cheap II class fares ( t50 nrs for mumbvai pune) on umbai -pune delhi araa rais rural people have to shell double as sleeper class fare even on day rains. u almost always find ii class local travellers in sleepers. the solutio is practcal. issue II class unreserved slleper tickets valid in day from 6-0 a,m to 10 -00 p,m (25% more are han i ordinary) and alow only thyese in sleeper class. for even season ticket holders need to apy 10 rs suprfastticket( season ticket sleeper conversion ticket) to travel in sleeper. even mumbai pune rack where many day trains run through trains run and unless such system is introduced the berths will go vacant in this section. Also if this is not done other dayintercity trains get overloaded. railwyas even if they desre can not operate train per hour on mumbai pune route and day rains on roues like nagpur akola , hyderba gulbarga etc. so a management practice is to make optimum use of through trains plying.
Also for paenger boarding at intermediate major stations reservation can and shud be allowed two hrs till departyre of train from that station and keep reerved list dynamically updated

malq

5 years ago

VERY interesting to read this CONFIDENTIAL note from the privilege committee found on the internet about how EQ is used for VIPs.

http://164.100.24.208/ls/CommitteeR/Priv...

Incidentally, the average number of berths on different quotas is an average of about 9.5 lakh seats/berths PER DAY - as per this report. (Very smartly, they have included the number of berths in "general" caregory to make the answer typical.

http://164.100.47.5:8080/members/website...

param

5 years ago

did you know that IR has removed the option to query the number of berths under HO quota from its website recently?

REPLY

malq

In Reply to param 5 years ago

Dear Param, yes, I am aware that this option was removed from erail.in recently.

However, at various forums on the internet, wide hints are dropped that some sort of programs exist which help you get past this barrier, and even more - that some agents can enter the PRS through some "holes" or "ports" to "manage" these quota bookings.

Take a look here:-
http://www.indiamike.com/india/indian-ra...

Also, if you travel regularly and study the charts on the door, as well as chat up the staff, you can find out who is in the "quota" berths and then a bit more, "how" they got it.

Must be the most open secret in the Indian Railways. Here's another offline response I got on this subject:-

""Great going veeresh.This is a good area you have unearthed.A lot of hanky panky going on. If you know the right politicians and crooked connnections in the Railway Board people have got free tickets for YEARS. Do you know that there is a handicapped quota? I know somebody who fudged this showing
some kind of fake handicap and availed of benefits from the Indian Railways.""

+++

rgds/VM

param

In Reply to malq 5 years ago

Yes, the charts outside the coach (if they are on the right side & still legible) surely tell which are HO cases. Mostly HO is for requests that reach Ralways from internal or govt quarters. It also covers the EQ where citizens can apply in case of emergency provided they know whom to approach in the first place. However, the numbers allotted are out of sync with the expected demand from these, especially for 3A & SL (most of the freeloaders & connected folks would travel 1A or 2A). The bulk of 3A/SL are taken up by agents who are networked with the officials in charge of this - this is why even a WL200+ can be ensured confirmation at a steep price. Since 3A/SL is underpriced wrt market demand, it is easy to extract such a premium.

malq

In Reply to param 5 years ago

Yes, Param, I've often sat and analysed the charts with travelling TTEs and gained a lot of gyaan from them. Wonderful what a hail fellow well met approach can do.

Modus I adopt when on a huge waiting list is to file an RTI Application for the specific train, for the relevant date, one date before and one date after, demanding information on number of seats alloted on quotas and brief details like how many lower berths, on what basis the quota was given and so on and so forth. Best is to apply to Member/Traffic or Chairman/Railway Board.

Then watch that particular waiting list evaporate. Always works. Whether I get the response or not (since Indian Railways have a habit of demanding 2/- per page and if the train is starting from a non Delhi station, then that gets complicated . . .) is not important.

But yes, I need to take this further - only 13 out of 46 berths in AC 2T for genuine pax is something . . .

Thanks for writing in. Spread the word!!

Best/VM

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