[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Government should get out of all utilitiy services

Here is a letter which appeared in another newsgroup that paints a glorious
picture of the quality of Indian utility services provided by the

Why is the Indian scenario so despondent? Why can't we improve ourselves
and make the world a better place to live?
Whose responsibility is it?
Date: 20-11-1998 :: Pg: 12 :: Col: a

Sir, - As a British businessman trying to do business
with India, I am at my wit's end with the 100 per
cent unreliability of the basic infrastructure for
business life. It may be unfair to compare the
British system with the Indian system with its
different circumstances, but I will say this: We take
for granted that when you open a tap, water will be
there; when you switch on the light, current will be
there. I can get a telephone line installed from one
of the privatised companies within days. I can get an
Internet connection within minutes by telephoning a
private ISP and giving my credit card number.

Here in India, I had to wait for several weeks for a
telephone, after paying an exorbitant fee, and for
five weeks for an Internet connection from the VSNL,
which is costing me at least twice as much as I pay
in the U.K. for an impeccable service. From my four
weeks of experience using the Internet here, I can
say that my VSNL connection is 100 per cent
unreliable. When I do get a connection that does not
drop, chances are that I will get a power cut
instead. Here in Ambattur I have logged 18 power cuts
in four days (with a total loss of power for 12 hours
4 minutes). At the very least, if we know when a
power cut is to occur, and what its duration would
be, we could do some planning around it, but all
these cuts seem arbitrary and of varying durations.
However, when it comes to paying the bill, the
Electricity Board is very efficient at charging extra
for delayed payment.

It is tempting to say that part of the problem is
that virtually all the utilities are monopolies and,
therefore, there is no incentive for competition. But
where is the ideal of personal pride in providing an
excellent service? Who is answerable to whom for
every interruption of service?

Allowing private enterprise to operate Internet
services (as is being permitted now) can only be good
news, but speed of data transfer will only improve if
and when they can create their own gateways and
backbone infrastructure, and at costs that are not
imposed by the DoT.

Being an Indophile, I want to see India grow and
prosper, but I am at the stage where I shall have to
report to my colleagues in the U.K. that India is not
a place where they can do business unless they bring
and install the whole of their communications
infrastructure with them. I have spent fruitless
hours dialling and redialling, or waiting for the
power to return, unable to download files from the
Internet. All the other residents too have to suffer
these random power interruptions. Yet they seem
merely to shrug as if they were as unavoidable as the
passing rain showers. Why the lethargy? Isn't it time
for the consumer to sit up and start demanding the
kind of service he deserves and is paying for? India
has for too long been introspective and satisfied
with ``second best'' or ``almost good enough.'' Look
at the state of the roads and pathways, where they
exist. Look at the standard of driving. Look at the
advertising signboards and electricity meters hanging
at odd angles. The list goes on. Now is the time to
pull out the stops and start aiming for quality and
for service and for professionalism - an absolute
necessity for interaction with the rest of the world,
and something that the domestic consumer should be
expecting and demanding.

R. N. Sutton, Chennai

Ram Narayanan
janaky@indiaintl.com or loraln@worldnet.att.net

This is a posting to India_Policy Discussion list:  debate@indiapolicy.org
Rules, Procedures, Archives:            http://www.indiapolicy.org/debate/