Apropos the story, “DoT says spectrum inadequacy affecting quality of service”, Mint, 10 September, on radio spectrum for DoT, it is heartening to learn that the ministry of defence is willing to vacate a portion of the spectrum. It would certainly help the present and future telecom operators in terms of increasing their subscriber base. However, it is difficult to appreciate how this would result in an improvement in the quality of service. Effective utilization of the spectrum already available constitutes a major factor. Towards this end, Trai would have to monitor the optimum and efficient utilization of the spectrum which, among other things, would help DoT allocate spectrum on a rational basis—namely on the basis of traffic and not on subscriber numbers alone.
Namita Bhandare’s article, “Mob justice and civil society’s breakdown”, Mint, 4 September, highlights the problem very well. It is the overburdened legal infrastructure in this country.
India is not producing enough lawyers and judges to meet the demand of its large and growing population. It does not have enough courts/police stations/district attorneys to take care of the legal needs of its citizens. This is a stark fact we need to wake up to. What is the use of having laws if we don’t have a good enforcement mechanism to enforce them?
Ultimately, as is often the case in India, the problem comes down to funding. The problem of financing more police stations, courts and legal training schools is a complicated issue, especially when all these institutions need to be scaled up tremendously.
For starters, the government should allow private builders to build law courts and recover their money by selling or renting offices to lawyers, in-site-parking to undertrials, creating retail spaces inside the building. This will immediately create thousands of courts across the country in places where there is a large demand for legal services, without any burden on the exchequer. The government supplies the judges, of course.
Secondly, a board of education can be created to oversee post-secondary institutions offering a law degree. The sector could then be liberalized to allow private capital to build as many law colleges as they can and letting as many lawyers/judges graduate as possible. The board of education can oversee these private institutions to ensure that minimum standards are being met.
Finally, the government could fund more police stations and district attorneys by allowing the state government to issue a simple police tax, by districts. Each district can fund its own police stations.
The more people there are in a district, the more tax revenue it generates and the greater the number of police stations. This way, every district gets the number of police stations proportionate to its demographic needs.
This refers to the editorial, “Liquid crisis”, Mint, 17 September. I agree that we need to urgently enforce sensible policies about water. However, I am concerned about the hike in water charges collected by municipal corporations, municipalities and corporate bodies such as the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation. While there cannot be any opposition to the right pricing of water on the basis of cost, my worry is about the utilization of the extra revenue generated by these authorities.
It is well known that almost all of them are over-staffed and they spend a lot of their revenue supporting a huge bureaucracy. Unless we are in a position to control this and ensure proper utilization of additional revenue generated by a hike in water rates, I am afraid a hike in water rates will serve no purpose.
—Narendra M. Apte