We Messed Up on Policies: Pitroda on Vodafone

We Messed Up on Policies: Pitroda on Vodafone

Calling for consistency in policies, technocrat-turned-government adviser Sam Pitroda today admitted that the UPA government "messed up" by sending conflicting signals through its decisions such as the retrospective taxation for Vodafone.

"We did mess up during the past few years on policies. We do realise that we need to be consistent in our policies. The Vodafone decision was one such decision sending wrong signals to the global community," he said at a meeting organised by the local Congress unit here.

Stating that there could be other cases too where the government might have gone wrong, Pitroda, credited with ushering in the telecom revolution in the 1980s, said this is an area that needs to be fixed.

The government's decision to resort to retrospective taxation to make the British telecom giant Vodafone pay over Rs 12,000 crore in capital gains for its February 2007 acquisition of Hutchison Essar after losing the court battle has been controversial.

Pitroda, however, asserted that with the right decisions, "we can bring back growth to the 8-10-percent-mark", which is the potential growth rate of the Indian economy. The government needs to be more inclusive in its approach while chasing this target, he added.

The country needs changes in policies in the human resources, administration and finance, he said, but also pointed out that many times compulsions of the coalition politics come in the way of the right decisions.

He also stated that the coming Lok Sabha elections are not about a person, but about conflicting ideologies.

India needs more younger blood in politics at the higher levels of governance, Pitroda, 72, said. Later, he clarified that he did not have Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in mind while saying this.

Openness brought about by the adoption of technology, coupled with legislation-based initiatives of the UPA such as the Right to Information embodies the "Gandhian philosophy of transparency", he said. 

When asked about India being at the bottom of many freedom indices, Pitroda said the international organisations which come out with these reports are "biased", "half of it is bogus", and he does not give much credence to them.

On corruption, Pitroda said it is "in the DNA" of the society, and it is unfair to blame a single person. The issue has to be addressed at the individual level, where every person steers clear of corrupt ways, he said.

While reeling out statistics on the achievements of the ten years of Manmohan Singh government, Pitroda accepted that the government did not communicate its schemes and policies effectively. He specifically cited the Food Security Bill, saying more discussions outside the Parliament were needed on it.

"What we have done between 2004 and 2014 is phenomenal. But nobody recognises it. Everything is going well, but nobody is feeling good," he said.

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