Auction of spectrum would have prevented 2G scam: Jagdish Bhagwati

Renowned economist Jagdish Bhagwati today said the use of "market-using" reforms would have prevented the gargantuan 2G spectrum scandal.

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Renowned economist Jagdish Bhagwati today said the use of "market-using" reforms would have prevented the gargantuan 2G spectrum scandal.

"...if, the market-using reforms had been used in allocating the 2G spectrum by auctioning it off, the scandal would not have arisen," the senior Columbia University fellow said during the 24th Intelligence Bureau Endowment lecture on 'Designing Institutions for Governance Reform' here.

Referring to scepticism over governance issues, he said "it has been distressing for all thoughtful Indians to have been witnessed recently to the gargantuan 2G spectrum scandal...".

Market-using reforms, he said would also have contained the illegal mining scams in states like Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Jharkhand.

"Insistence on tenders before the award of lucrative public sector contracts would also reduce corruption: a lesson we should have learnt from the furore over the Enron contract in Maharashtra," Bhagwati said.

Stressing upon the need of further economic reforms, he said, "The continuing inability of the government to advance the reform agenda exemplified by the inept political handling of the now-shelved retail sector initiative by the UPA government..." has been distressing for Indians.

Noting that reforms put India on growth path, Bhagwati said efforts should be made to provide opportunities to poor and marginalised segments for their economic upliftment.

Bhagwati said "accelerated growth rate drew more of our people above the poverty line. It is a common sense...that a stagnant economy will not reduce poverty while a growing economy will".

He, however, stressed upon adopting a more inclusive system for economic growth so that poor can partake more effectively of the opportunities for economic improvement that India's reformed economy provides.

"This means, most of all making education possible for them," Bhagwati added.

The noted economist said the inventions of cheap laptops and the use of IT technology to exploit scale economies to bring education at low cost to the many poor are scientific innovation that the country badly need.

Bhagwati called upon HRD, IT and Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal to bring "an ambitious programme to bring educational access to the poor".

The noted scholar said the economic disparity in the country could lead to political instability.

"This is likely to happen when there is ostentatious display of wealth and path of the poor to riches is not easy," he said.

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