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DECEMBER 2001 Contents

 Architecture

 Joseph Allen Stein
 A tribute by Ram Rahman


 
Art
 
A Spiritual Activist
 Rozalia Radhika Priya


 
Music

 Ghulam Ali

 Prem Joshua
 (Listen to the track
 'Lahore Connection')

 Maharaja
 (Listen to the track
 'Moria Badnawa')


 
Technology

 Telecoms & Software
 - Trends in south Asia

 Value/Wealth Creators

 Narayana Murthy - Infosys

 Sam Pitroda - C-DOT

 Aziz Premji - Wipro

 Sunil Mittal - Bharti Mittal

 Ambanis - Reliance

 Safi Qureshi

 Hassan Ahmed - Sonus

 Atiq Raza - Raza Foundries

 

 Literature/Books

 'It was five past midnight
 in Bhopal' - Lapierre

 
 
Performing Arts

 Simplifying Ramayana
 - Bharatiya Kala Kendra

 
 Viewpoint

 Islam's middle-path


 Mythology

 Sakti - Mother Goddess


 Films

 Nandita Das


Events

 Wharton India Economic
 Forum Conference


 Editor's Note

 

 
the craft shop

the print gallery

Books

Silk Road on Wheels

The Road to Freedom

Enduring Spirit

Parsis-Zoroastrians of
India

The Moonlight Garden

Contemporary Art in Bangladesh

 

 

Page  2  of  10

 

 

Telecom & Software - Trends & Future in South Asia

(cntd.)

 by

Salman Saeed

 

Telecom  Raj - Bitter Harvest of Ignorance .

 

The Telecom sector in India and Pakistan has consisted of the sole monopoly of the industry in the public sector / government bureaucrats' hands. These in turn were dominated by European Telephone Switch manufacturers monopolies - primarily Siemens , Alcatel, Ericsson.

  The policies dated back to the British Raj/ rule of India namely the Indian Post & Telegraph act of 1885 , which ironically is still the basis for all matters related to Telecom policies in India , Pakistan , Sri Lanka, Bangladesh. Later on the Postal department was separated as the telephone became more prevalent.

  The number of telephones per hundred people is considered to be strongly correlated to the level of poverty  or well being by the International Telecom Union [ ITU] and is borne out by facts. To this day the tele-density of South Asia remains one of the lowest in the world . It ranges from 0.5 in the poorest regions in Orissa to 2.5 [ regional average ]  and the highest is 4.0  which is the maximum in more developed regions of Maharashtra, Gujarat , Punjab.

Policies such as the prevention of putting Fax machines on the telephone lines were in effect upto1980 in Pakistan. Small business telephone exchanges were not allowed to be used without permission from the Telecom authorities. Ironically when Fax machines were allowed in Pakistan , Telecom revenues jumped as trade related Fax traffic with Japan and the West exploded.

Yet in 1994 An Engineer in the Lahore Telecom Circle was not aware that a modem could be used on a telephone line to transmit data. Similarly the use of paging systems, Mobile telephone & Data networks were only allowed after bitter struggle with the Ministry of Telecoms and other national Bodies including the Defence Ministries who to this day control the radio frequency spectrum. The changing Telecom policies resulting from the pressures of De-regulation/ Privatisation are spelt out in coming  issues of  The-South-Asian. Some of these stories are reflected in the articles on the major personalities in this article.

The last stand of these bodies  is the prevention of the Internet Telephony technology called Voice over Internet Protocol [ VO-IP]. This technology is still being resisted as it would eat into the major portion of the International long-distance revenues of the South Asian National PTTs. In 1995 a call from Lahore to Karachi cost the same as a call to London , U.K..

Long distance revenues were used by PTTs in South Asian countries to subsidise local calls. Again the situation is similar to the banning of Fax machines - lack of foresight , vision that volumes are the key to a business that is a commodity now.

Similarly in the case of the allocation and selling of the wireless spectrum , arguments are still given by these Institutions about the national defence and security issues in an age when the introduction of encryption technologies makes nonsense of this line of reasoning. Valuable wealth making opportunities are being lost as time goes by and mindless ignorant and backward looking officials  avoid making changes that can release our people from poverty and offer hope and opportunity very much as Grameen Telecom has done in Bangladesh. [ see The-South_Asian ---- issue  ]

   

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