The editorial “Behind the S-band spectrum scandal” (Feb. 10) is insightful in its analysis of the infamous allocation of the scarce high-value S-band spectrum. What is most shocking is that such skulduggery, involving a loss of over Rs. 2 lakh crore to the exchequer, has occurred in a premier organisation such as the Indian Space Research Organisation which functions under the very nose of the PMO.
That Prime Minister Manmohan Singh enjoys a clean record of personal integrity is no consolation for his failure to take the cue from well-meaning whistle-blowers in ISRO who said the Antrix-Devas deal must be annulled.
We can only hope that the exposé by The Hindu and Business Line on the scandal involving the Department of Space, under the charge of the Prime Minister himself, will wake him up. Unfortunately, he seems to be in denial, be it with respect to spectrum, the Commonwealth Games or any other scam.
At a time when the public has lost all hopes of fair play and justice, Dr. Singh's silence does not particularly help. Failure to act, and remaining in denial are not expected of a Prime Minister. He needs to speak out — the taxpayers and law-abiding people have a right to be assured that the guilty who profited from their money will not be spared.
From Mahatma Gandhi's vision of Ramrajya, we are rapidly sliding into scam rajya. The volume of the scams is so staggering that it can perhaps find a place in the Guinness book of records. It is certain that if the Antrix-Devas deal is scrapped, Devas will ask for enormous damages from public funds. Why should the nation pay for the misdemeanours of a few officials?
But for the whistleblowers, the S-band scandal would have remained buried under officialese. We should award Bharat Ratna to the whistleblowers and newspapers rendering yeoman service to the nation under great risk.
As a reader of The Hindu for over six decades, I am proud of its consistent high standards. The editorial on the S-band spectrum scandal and the exposé were marvellous. As usual, the newspaper has done full justice in unravelling the matter and presenting a careful and unbiased critique, serving as an eye-opener to not only the readers but also our great nation.
Thanks to a few responsible whistleblowers in ISRO and the ever vigilant newspaper, The Hindu, a further erosion of our national resources has been averted. It is ironical that a deal could have been struck under the very nose of Dr. Singh. Would ISRO — which did not even report the agreement to Dr. Singh — have displayed such gross arrogance but for the scorn shown by him and his LPG coterie towards all regulatory mechanisms? Is not the unrelenting song and dance about the necessity for total decontrol responsible for ISRO's irresponsible action?
The presumptive loss to the exchequer is a whopping Rs. 2 lakh crore. The S-band is a scarce resource, and it ought to be used in the national interest. The idea of leasing such a resource to a private agency without competitive bidding and without informing the PMO, the Cabinet and the Space Commission is unpardonable.