The story of telecommunications reforms in India offers a fascinating example of how determined leadership can overcome even the fiercest opposition to reforms, says Arvind Panagariya
The total number of phones in India as of October 31, 2007 is placed at 256 million. India has been adding phones at the rate of 6.65 million per month. Tele-density — the number of phones per 100 individuals — now stands at 22.52. As recently as March 31, 1999, this figure was a tiny 2.8.
What has changed? Many public policy writers routinely attribute this revolution to the advent of cellular technology. While technological change has been an essential element, the real credit for the revolution must go to Prime Minister A B Vajpayee And finance minister Yashwant Sinha who brought the same systematic reforms to telecommunications that Prime Minster Narasimha Rao and finance minister Manmohan Singh had brought to trade and industry via an end to licensing.
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