Home >Industry >Telecom >Former WTO envoy, ex-DoT secy JS Deepak among 50 in fray for Trai chairman post
Photo: Mint
Photo: Mint

Former WTO envoy, ex-DoT secy JS Deepak among 50 in fray for Trai chairman post

  • He was the joint secretary in DoT when India conducted its first ever auction of spectrum that took place in 2012
  • Deepak was lauded for deftly handling India’s trade talks with RCEP, the China-led body that India didn't eventually join

NEW DELHI: The race for the top post at the telecom regulator is set to be a stiff one with at least 50 candidates applying for the coveted role, according to two sources familiar with the development. Among the top contenders is J S Deepak, ex-telecom secretary and India’s former ambassador and permanent representative at the World Trade Organization.

Deepak has been India’s chief negotiator at the world trade body and was lauded for tough stance at the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership that India eventually decided against signing up for late last year. His tenure as India’s WTO trade envoy ended on 31 May.

“There are at least 12 Indian Administrative Service Officers (IAS) in contention. There are both current and former secretaries to the government of India, senior officials from public sector undertakings as well as experts from the private sector who have applied for the post," an official familiar with the development told Mint.

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet is the final authority to approve the name of the person for the role of chairman at Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

The role of Trai chairman is extremely significant given the importance of the sector in the economy, which then lends heft to the person occupying the chair. While the department of telecommunications takes the final call on most Trai proposals, its recommendations form the basis of DoT’s final policy framework and thus carry huge weight and are difficult to be ignored.

The Trai chairman's post is a crown of thorns given the litigious nature of the companies in the sector. The tenure of a Trai chief is three years though incumbent R S Sharma got a rare extension two years back. Nripendra Misra, former principal secretary to Prime Minister during the first term of Narendra Modi-led government in 2014-2019, was also TRAI chairman and DoT secretary once.

The role of TRAI Chairman is extremely important given the importance of the sector in the economy which then lends heft to the person occupying the chair. While the department of telecommunications takes the final call on most TRAI proposals, its recommendations form the basis of DoT’s final policy framework and thus carry huge weight and are difficult to be ignored.

The TRAI Chairman post is a crown of thorns given the litigious nature of the companies in the sector. The tenure of a TRAI Chairman is 3 years though incumbent R S Sharma got a rare extension 2 years back to be at the helm till 30 September, 2020. Nripendra Misra, former principal secretary to Prime Minister during the first term of Narendra Modi-led government in 2014-2019, was also TRAI Chairman and DoT secretary once.

Deepak has a Master’s in Business Administration from Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. He was the joint secretary in DoT when India conducted its first ever auction of spectrum that took place in 2012.

The shift for the 1982 batch Indian Administrative Service officer to WTO in 2017 came under a bit of controversial circumstances, coming as it did shortly after a year of his appointment as telecom secretary. Many then believed that his public statements questioning the telecom regulator for soft pedaling on Reliance Jio Infocomm’s near-free mobile services that were bleeding the incumbents led to his ouster.

Jio’s almost free voice and data services, launched in September 2016, attracted a lot of users to it and led to a fall in mobile services companies’ revenues and consequently a sharp dip in government’s collection of revenues from the sector, a scenario that Deepak’s statements seemed to suggest could have been handled better by TRAI.


Subscribe to Mint Newsletters
* Enter a valid email
* Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter.

Click here to read the Mint ePaperMint is now on Telegram. Join Mint channel in your Telegram and stay updated with the latest business news.

Close
x
×
My Reads Redeem a Gift Card Logout