Tuesday, August 06, 2013

The Great Indian Tamasha of Indian Railways

by D. Dhanuraj

After a long time, I was standing on the queue to book my Tatkal tickets. I was at the reservation counter of Chennai Central Railway Station Reservation counter to reserve my return journey ticket from Chennai to Ernakulam. 
Luckily I had Tatkal booking forms with me, which I had taken along with me from Ernakulam to ensure that I can afford to be there at the Tatkal counter at 9.50 am equipped with the filled Tatkal form. 
It was not a long queue (I am surprised; may be off-peak season) and I was probably 6th or 7th in the queue. I could sense a kind of excitement and curiosity on everyone's face as the counter opens for Tatkal reservation at 10 am. There were chairs for 5 or 6 to sit and relax before the crucial booking starts. As the clock ticked 10, everyone stood up. 
I was not able to see the booking agent (not sure what is the designation of the officer; officer, inspector or agent?) at the counter. As I was lurking at the window, the booking Inspector (hope I don't get into trouble calling her agent; let it be bureaucratic and colonial, lets call her Inspector) started shouting at me. I was wondering why ! The reason is that she does not want anybody else to stand up other than the first person in the queue. Since it was very impulsive, I did not know what to do. Then she shouted at me again; "Hello Mr. Why are you standing up? Why cant you sit on chairs?" in her chaste Tamil.
I could not resist laughing at the way she shouted at me for none of her business. I wondered whether Railways started considering all those who visit the reservation counters as creators of law and order problems.. I do not know how many times such troubles are reported. I thought of giving her a prompt response then I realized that it does not match with my character.

As I was laughing at the Tamasha of Indian Railways, I heard another shout from the Inspector; this time she was shouting at the person in front of me. Again, I was clueless about what is happening there. Then I overheard; "Don't you know that the photocopy of the id shall be self attested?". He said "No". Then he added that the id is that of his relative so that he can't get the signature then.  I think this remarks has really angered her for no reason. " Are you stupid?" she continued screaming at him while he gently avoided from the scene without making any noise. I was wondering why should she shout at him? Even while we ignore the stupid laws and the resources wasted over it, I can't accept the fact that she has the guts to call someone a Stupid. I remember what a Malayalam cine actor, Jayasurya had done at a toll plaza. While the toll plaza ticket collectors said 'No exchange balance' and gave chocolates instead of balance money, next time, he tried to pay the toll ticket with chocolates. If anyone had called her 'Stupid', it would have been an offence leading to penalty of a few thousand rupees and sometimes jail term also!

Finally, my turn to reserve tickets. I felt happy despite all that happened, when she told me that I could get ticket under Tatkal. I thanked God for his grace and Indian Railways for the ration. 
Then I gave the Inspector Rs 500 against the ticket price of 435. Immediately she shouted at me again for not giving her Rs 5 denomination for Rs 435. I said I don't want Rs 65 and she can return Rs 60. She did not relent. She asked me to get the denominations of Rs 5 then only she will give me the ticket. Understanding she is furious and I am not ready to accept another 'Stupid' call from her mouth, I started asking for denominations of Rs 5 against Rs 10. I asked many, then I understood that early in the morning at the reservation counter at Chennai Central Railway Station, no one keeps Rs 5 coin or currency note! (Our Planning Commission will be happy hearing this). Finally I thought of approaching her and pleading for the ticket. Then another Gentleman came to me and offered Rs 5 coin. Then I gave him Rs 10 currency note, he said he does not have another Rs 5 to give me back. He asked me not to bother about Rs 5 that he had given to me. He said it is only a matter of nice gesture!.  I returned to the counter and gave her Rs 5 and escaped from the place. 
On my way back, I was wondering who are the public servants and what are the qualities and attributes of a public servant in India!

Later in the afternoon, I was having lunch with my friend while I narrated to him on what all had happened in the morning. 
He was totally merciless in his criticism on the current way in which Indian Railways operate. He wants different railway companies competing with each other for their share for the quality service offered to the passengers. 
Suddenly, it came to me that the history of Indian Railways is like that; in fact the British Government had floated and facilitated the formation of different Railway operating companies in the early 20th century. 
Finally what had happened in post independence time period is the setting up of this mammoth white elephant called 'Indian Railways' !
Not surprising,  they could create rail for another 25000 Km only in the last sixty years.
Forget about it; 'Have you seen any change in the Chennai Central Station in the last ten years?' my friend asked me. I had to say a big 'No'. I have been to Chennai since 2003 on a regular basis. 
That summarizes the big Tamasha of Indian Railways.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Can Inflation Index Bonds replace gold as a safe investment....???

India is the world's largest consumer of gold, accounting for some 20 percent of the world's demand.
In India gold is historically and culturally tied to the concepts of wealth and prosperity. The demand for gold has been increasing drastically in India which lead to a current account deficit of 4.3%.  Govt tried to reduce the import of Gold by imposing 75% import duty. But still the demand for gold is not reducing, so to curb this demand the govt introduced Inflation Index Bonds in this year's Union Budget. Inflation Index Bonds have been recommended in the Economic Survey Report of 2013. RBI soon going to issue the IIB''s on 4th June 2013 to protect the savings against the rising prices.

The reason why these bonds are launched because Inflation erodes the purchasing power of money and people are investing in gold as a hedge against inflation. The advantage of IIB is that adjusts its interest payments depending on the inflation rate. As the inflation rate changes every year, so does the cash flow from the IIB. The other advantage of the IIB is that it not only adjusts the interest payments to inflation but also the principal repaid to the investor at the end of the bond's tenure.

Although inflation-indexed bonds prove beneficial during times of high inflation, they underperform when the economy goes through a deflationary phase and prices actually come down. So it cannot be said that the IIB's will replace the gold as a safe investment and another  big drawback of these bonds is that they have been indexed to the WPI and not the Consumer Price Index (CPI). For most investors in bonds, the CPI is the more relevant index. Consumer prices matter to them in day-today life than wholesale prices. Above that the Indians has been attached to gold as it is used as a traditional jewellery for all the festivals and occasions in India. Even after the fall in gold prices recent Akshaya thrithiya Festival boosted the demand for gold. In a country like India it is believed that if the gold is bought during Akshaya thrithiya or Dhantheyras the whole year will bring financial prosperity. These festivals creates a key gold buying occasion in India and the consumers are obsessed especially the women consumers ,so the obsession will bring the market for Gold in India. So let's wait and see whether the IIB's will replace the gold or not??
 By Sneha Baby, Intern at CPPR

Tuesday, May 21, 2013



By Sneha Baby, Intern at CPPR

Saradha scam in West Bengal which came out on April 23rd  lead to the loss of small savings of the poor people and a full stop to the life of many agents who worked for the company. Who is responsible and whom should be blamed for scams like this. India has seen many scams but still not learnt from the mistakes. Why always poor people are targeted or becomes the prey of such fraudulent companies. The article looks through the reasons and tries to find a solution to put an end to it.


As per the Securities Exchange Board of India (SEBI) notice, Saradha group collected money from the public promising either land or flat or to refund the money with a return of around 12-24 % .The Saradha group was able to attract people to be the agents for collecting the money as they were promised  a commission of 15-20% of the fund mobilised by them. This never came under the purview of RBI or SEBI because the documents submitted to the  Registrar of Companies did not mention any thing about mobilising money from public. This clearly shows the failure of the state and central govt and its regulatory bodies.


Lack of financial is one of the main reasons for the rapid growth of Ponzi schemes in areas of West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa. If we look the banks in India perhaps has the lowest penetration among all other large economies. The number of banks in rural areas are very less as they are not able to cover their profit targets in these areas. More than 40 %Indians don't even  have a bank account and till now there is only sixty four banks in India.
Lower interest rates for small savings: Saradha group collected the money from the public promising that they will a pay higher returns for their investments in Saradha group. But the interest rates prevailing in the market was 8 - 9% because of slow growth of India. The expansion and consolidation of groups like Saradha began with the fall in the small savings between 2006-09, which was due to the faulty policies of the central government in terms of reducing the attractiveness of small savings by reducing interest rates on them. So it was obvious that people will invest in savings which gives higher returns.

Lack of economic activity is another reason. In West Bengal the proportion of informal workers is higher compared to the rest of the country. The share of manufacturing in GSDP in West Bengal has been steadily declining. Therefore, with a fall in the share of manufacturing, income of the informal workers was adversely affected. The number of employees in informal sector is very high that is the reason why many people joined as the agents of the Saradha group.

Need for an Independent Regulatory body

The only solution to curb the coming up of fraudulent companies like Saradha is by bringing an  independent regulatory body. The consumers should be assured to keep the promises by the financial firms and be protected with minimum loss. The Financial Sector Legislative Reforms Commission (FSLRC) have given recommendations in these aspects. The FSLRC proposed a Unified Financial Authority (UFA) to regulate all areas of finance other than banking and payments. According to this the collective investment schemes, chit fund etc .come under the UFA. This is very important in the case of chit funds as it comes under the domain of the state governments.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Kerala- withering away of an educated society

By D.Dhanuraj

This year also, as per the custom, Minister of Education announced SSLC examination results in Kerala. He announced the results and took the credits away from his counter parts of the previous years for the highest pass percentage in the history," 94.17%". 
Looks like 100 meters race where the studies have shown that the world record in 100 m would be difficult to be broken as it might be a humanly impossible task. But at times, I tend to think that in Kerala, SSLC results may even touch 100 % unlike the impossible 100 meters sprint record. But then, what would be the implications of such a record breaking pass percentage?

I see a Tsunami waiting for Kerala in another 4 to 5 years. It would be largely because Kerala is producing a dishonest new generation who does not believe in merit as a virtue. Passing SSLC through learning is no more their concern, its a matter of pride for the Minister of Education and he will do his best to make sure that he announces the highest pass percentage every year.

I don't believe in the figure 94.17. I dare to challenge; how many of these students know how to read and write in Malayalam? How many of them know the elementary Arithmetic

The political leadership find their satisfaction in the highest percentage they attribute to SSLC results every year. I am surprised when Education Minister himself announces SSLC results every year as a ritual. Why should he? I strongly believe that we are over emphasizing on SSLC exams results by the similar kinds of actions mentioned above. In fact, if that was the case, it would have been the Union HRD Minister to announce CBSE and Prime Minister to announce UPSE results!! 

Kerala Government should be proud of producing NASA scientists and not SSLC pass percentage.

What is the end result of such a poor policy of generating high pass percentages? Merit and dishonesty are the values inculcated in the future generations. They become lazy and expect freebies and moderation from the State every time. Though these are the long term impacts, there are immediate end result in the higher education. 

Having 134 Engineering Colleges in Kerala, everyone will be aspiring to become an engineer. In this case, most of the engineering students in these colleges would end up either failing in the exams or grab a B.Tech degree even without minimum high school qualification. 

This will show the engineering stream of Kerala in a poor light. This will have an impact on the long term survival and sustainability of the private engineering colleges. 

The society may lose their interest in these colleges and that will compel them to shut down these shops. Most of the engineering colleges in that scenario may become Beer Parlors and hotels. This would be the case with other educational institutions in higher education. 

The economy and market revolving around these higher education institutions will burst

Teachers in all the categories will suffer as they struggle to get equipped to teach the future generations. Many among the teachers themselves would not be the fit for the profession as they belong to the 95 % pass percentage category mentioned above. 

Private companies will not recruit from Kerala as they find only misfits here. This will have a negative impact on the investments in Kerala. 

Keralites going abroad for jobs will shrink as they will be incompetent on job. This will have a serious repercussion in the remittance economy that has sustained Kerala for many decades. There will be a distorted market of the skilled, semi skilled and unskilled professionals from Kerala finding it difficult to living up to the reputation of the past.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Labhaprabha –The Illusion???

By Mary Honey, Research Associate, CPPR

I am not a typical cynic who always opposes new government initiates by providing false and useless statements. But sometimes I have raised questions to get a clear cut answer. I was wondering the durability of the efforts done by the ‘most efficient’ Kerala State Electricity Board in bringing out the new initiatives for energy conservation.
Recently on 23rd March 2013 the Kerala State Electricity Board switched to “Labhaprabha” the brand new name set up for its energy conservation scheme which lasts till 31st May through its first phase. This scheme which was meant for domestic consumers, guaranteed gifts and other incentives for saving electricity. The first step towards participating in the scheme was to get oneself registered. For this one need to send the SMS with the following details ,KSEB <space> Section code <space> Consumer number to 9287088808.The participant will immediately be informed of his/her average consumption through SMS and phase by phase instructions as to when meter readings should be taken and tips for saving energy send through SMS. If the consumer wins prizes, he/she will be intimated via SMS.
The energy credits programme is proposed to address all 85 lakh domestic consumers in the State. Half of the earnings made through savings under the scheme will either be returned to consumer or rewards of equivalent value made available to him/her. The KSEB declared rewards for up to Rs2 crore as part of the Labha Prabha campaign These include 50,000 compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs every week, solar lamps for every 1,000 consumers, table lamps, light emitting diode (LED) tubes and bulbs, water heaters, and T-5 tube lights. The bumper prize will be in the form of a 1-kilowatt (KW) solar installation (Rs1.25 crore) for the first 100 consumers who make maximum energy savings.
The KSEB is also launching another campaign - ‘No Loadshedding Campaign’ under which consumer groups like residents’ associations can escape from the loadshedding by saving electricity. Places coming under any of the KSEB feeders will be exempted from power restrictions if consumption is reduced by at least 10 per cent.
Statistics shows that 8532111 domestic consumers comes under this scheme, 1221370 domestic consumers are out of this scheme because of bad meter ,while 1177276 and 44094 single phase meter and 3phase meter respectively  does not work. This is also a major issue to be addressed along with this scheme and campaign.
Conditions like weather extremes, size of family, change in living habit, use of old or defective appliances etc influence the high consumption of electricity in every household. While, these are some of the factors that are not under the control of KSEB, the Board need to proactively engage in its duty of distributing power. People in Kerala are already facing power disruption for 2 hours daily with prior information from KSEB and without information many a times in between the day; owing to lack of pro-activeness and planning.
But is this camouflaging the inefficiencies of KSEB? It is the responsibility of the government to provide electricity as per demand for reasonable price. But it seems like we are all extravagant in misusing the power KSEB providing us for free. Needless to say the KSEB fail’s to plan and supply according to consumer requirements needs. Just compare the developmental projects/malls/industries that was set up in the state within last 5 years, and can see the gigantic boost that transformed the state into a commercial center. These developments and its related issues like shortage of electricity should have been foreseen by the KSEB and must adopt the required strategies to rise above the concern.
Though Kerala gets abundant rainfall every year, the state cannot wholly depend on hydro electric projects as during summer, water in dams and reservoirs will get dried up and generators will not work. Maybe ‘Right to Electricity’ can be seen effective if the state monopoly of electricity is been privatized! Electricity for every household will be inclusive only if KSEB would be able to provide ample electricity (Though it should not be KSEB all the time). The government must encourage with the new innovative ideas and solutions from the private parties for solving the energy crisis and thus can put an end to the KSEB model of solving energy crisis by providing free ‘ power cuts’ all the day

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Kerala Budget 2013 - An Open Letter to FM

Dear Minister,

History reckons with you for the most number of Budgets presented in the world. You are an experienced craftsman presenting the budget in a mercurial way. Your experience in politics and administration are unparalleled and presents a unique opportunity for researchers and practitioners to delve on the language, intend and vision of your Budget Speeches. You have seen generation after generation  not only on the floor of the House but also the Political turbulences' since independence. As a Public Policy Student I have great admiration for your skill sets as a Minister and a Politician. 

I am sure this letter may not surprise you on its content side. I wish to share my specific thoughts in certain areas on the upcoming budget of Kerala. These thoughts are based on my readings, interactions, observations and experience working with different clients over the years.

I do not have to spend time on explaining Kerala Model of Development to you. Those who studied on the model have stated 'Second Generation Problems' that Kerala face today. I will go one step ahead and call it as 'After the Welfare State' Paradigm for the problems that we face today. Kerala has notorious balance sheet for the money spent on pensions, salaries and perks. Though I welcome your recent steps for reforming Pension sector, I must confess that many in Kerala hardly have the details of the proposed reforms. I wish you would explain the pension scheme in detail in your budget speech. 

We have a very upward looking middle class with a significant size in the population. Somehow, for all these years, the welfare and socialistic pattern of policies implemented in Kerala has led to an approach of 'One Size Fits All' kind of attitude. In my opinion, it has resulted serious damage to the growth and development of the State. Most often, it has been the Public policy driven rather than  growth driven. While there is hue and cry about the subsidies at the national level, we are very much silent about it. Service delivery at a cheaper rate and not indexed to the inflation has pushed Kerala economy to an impoverished state. At the same time, it has been taught that the Government is responsible for everything and especially ensuring the services irrespective of its size, volume and content. I believe the Budget is a golden opportunity to discuss the service delivery in depth and to create awareness that while the Government ensures the services, it cannot be the provider or guarantor for all sorts of service delivery. Unfortunately, in Kerala there is no target approach.
Water or electricity, they were given at the cheaper rate to everyone irrespective of their income background.

I wish the upcoming budget will propose a road map how separate strategies for poor and rich will be incorporated in the coming years. Kerala's fiscal imbalance is largely due to this 'One size fits for all' approach. Another important step would be the announcement of Disinvestment in Public Sector Undertakings of Kerala. Not getting into the debate of CAG reports, I am sure most of these companies are either irrelevant or lack expertise in the modern times. Rather than allowing them to suck tax payers, the Government shall set the process to dis-invest in those companies. The image of Kerala State Government being the largest entrepreneur in this part of the world do not auger well for the future of the State. 

There is lack of acceptance or cohesion from the part of the leadership on the urbanisation processes. Though there are attempts to improve the infrastructure, most of them are happening separately and independently failing to see through inter connectivity and dependence.

What Kerala requires is the vision for Kerala 2030 - God's own Kerala metro state. Same is the case with the opening up of the sectors like Education and Health creating opportunities for the investors from India and abroad. In both the cases, Kerala has achieved the minimum quality many years ago. But we failed to take them to the next level where the competency and skills are taught. In Higher Education, the present Government should invite reputed foreign universities to set up their campus in Kerala. The budget provisions can facilitate the role of micro health insurers in the market.

The Urban Local Bodies shall be strengthened not by pumping more money but by building the capacities required for an effective Local Self Government. Mayor can be the CEO of the urban Kerala.

Not many have forgotten that the present State opposed the opening up of retail shop (aka FDI in retail) in Kerala. The guidelines at the national level ensures that Kerala cannot have more than 2 or 3 shops. Then why does Government oppose the move? I am sure retail entry in Kerala will expose the general public to the realities of the modern times that would lead to the destruction of psychological barrier in everyone's life here. The question of who is superior among King and Pope will no longer be there. One will have the courage to say that King is Naked and that would be the historic moment for you as the finance minister.

I wish my recommendations get reflected in the upcoming budget.

Thank you


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Future of KSRTC in Kerala

by D. Dhanuraj

Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) in the news again! This time, many believe that KSRTC will be grounded like Kingfisher airlines. Media reports that it incurs a loss of 8 lakhs rupees every day. The reason they cite is that of the recent hike in the Diesel Price. It was told that KSRTC has to shell out more money compared to the domestic car users as they fall in another category. It looks like the policy of the Government is NOT to promote public transport but the private vehicles. In that case, I do not agree with the Government prescription for more Sales Tax on Diesel for KSRTC as it breaks the rules in the game and having a level playing field with the rest of the competitors in the sector. Rather, Government should have lessened the Sales Tax to facilitate and support the public transport. This incident shows that private transport and private vehicles are encouraged while the public transport is neglected.

At the same time, I wonder whether the issues with KSRTC will be solved with the slashing of Sales Tax on Diesel.They have a long history of apathy and inefficient usage of resources. In my opinion, KSRTC is a good example for how a public commodity can be channelised for the political upmanship and poor management practices. KSRTC had a mission when it was set up. In today's world, that mission need to be innovated if it has to continue in the sector. With the opening up of the sector a few decades ago, KSRTC thrived in the sector with continued patronage from the Government and enforcing market monopoly principles in the select routes. It had the advantage of being always on the Government's side to sustain itself in the market. KSRTC is neither good in Efficient distribution of resources nor in deciding frequency of bus operations in a particular route. It has accumulated losses over the years which is bigger in size compared to the recent losses incurred as a result of hike in Diesel price. 

There is a larger debate whether KSRTC should exist in the current model or be closed down. Personally, I believe that the sector has to be revamped before we start thinking of revamping KSRTC. The definition of public transport shall have a wider meaning and accommodate players like Auto Rickshaws and Share Autos to meet the mission of better and accessible connectivity for the commuting public. Another complaint in this sector is about the misbehavior and rash driving by the private bus operators. In this case, the policy should encourage the transport operators to form cooperatives and the profit shall be based on the miles they operate and not on the basis of no of commuters boarding.

Then comes the mission of KSRTC. It was set up to connect the interiors of the State where the transport options are limited. Now, the broader definition of pubic transport will help to bridge this gap by issuing permits to the share autos, the pressure and demand for KSRTC will come down. Even the nationalised routes shall be opened up in the Sector. In this scenario, if KSRTC has to exist, it shall be bifurcated into the regional corporations. KSRTC head quarters in Transport Bhavan in Trivandum shall not be the authority to judge the routes and the frequency for a particular route in Kasaragod. In that case, efficient services according the demands and requirements of the local/region can be the prioritised by KSRTC local head offices. Even then, there should be market ethics and principles for the sector so that everyone in the sector is respected and no one is bulldozed. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013


By Madhu.S and Nichu Willington*

“Your Mobile number has won 750,000 Pounds FOR ongoing ICC World Cup T20 Award. To claim your prize, (Send your name, Address and Mobile#) Via Email :crkdraw@hotmail.com”. This tempting SMS has been received by millions of mobile users in India. However, there are no estimates on the number of people who got induced by such sham messages and lost money. Unfortunately, those who get cheated by these tempting SMS do not have much relief and are forced to repent. Many of them even do not report such incidents because of the shame, which has allowed the perpetrators, become habitual about faking people.  The people are always at the receiving end as the offenders or perpetrators often operate from outside and escape the clutches of the law. The only thing Government can think of is to give a Statutory Warning as in Cigarette packets “Please don’t attend or reply to frisky calls and SMS” being issued for each call and message !!  The telecom service providers meanwhile can bring a zoo zoo and tell its customers “Caveat emptor” (Let the buyer beware!!)

Taking action against these perpetrators have has been the most difficult task, owing to the modus operandi used in creating such messages or calls. The enforcement agencies end up in no man’s land inspite of tracking systems with the help of IT Cells located in most of the states and district capitals. Given the fact that they operate anywhere from London to Dubai to Nigeria, the extra-territoriality of jurisdiction is difficult to apply. The existing penal provision in the Indian Penal Code as to Cheating, deception or fraud maybe used to book and charge them. But the mere fact that the message was traced to Nigeria makes it difficult to enforce the law of the country, being India in this case.

However, what needs to be prodded is the absence of clear regulatory norms to prevent such fake SMS/Calls. The Telecom system in India from Messaging to Download of Apps in India is governed under the age old Indian Telegraph Act enacted by the Britisher’s in 1885, the year in which Indian National Congress was formed, giving it a tinge of history. The fact that the entire IT and ITE’s systems is governed by the archaic law have posed a major challenge for tackling major Cyber crimes. Though the Information Technology Act was formed to give clarity and can be credited to define cyber crimes and offences. The increasing dimension and constantly evolving nature of offences has made it difficult for the law to catch up eventually affecting the victims. It is therefore pertinent to delve upon the need for a better mechanism to tackle the menace.

Role of TRAI

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) is considered as the major body dealing with Telecom related issues with the Telecom Disputes Settlement Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) acting as the dispute resolution wing.  The Department of Telecom (DoT) under the  Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has been at loggerheads with TRAI while defining the scope of intervention in telecom matters. This ambiguity is reflected in the manner in which issues such as fake SMS or Calls are handled. TRAI came out with Telecom Unsolicited Commercial Communications Regulations in 2007 after much hue and cry against telemarketers which have been bothering the increasing Telecom customer base. TRAI forced Service Providers to regulate the Telemarketing business by identifying and restricting it. This led to the formulation of a Do Not Call Registry (Dial or SMS 1909) which contains the data base of all customers who does not want Telemarketers to bother them. While it was a good step in the right direction, the sheer manner in which telemarketer’s operated posed an issue for the government in preventing or regulating it. Telemarketers who are not registered under the Registry escaped the clutches of the regulation which actually defeats the purpose behind the same.

This also stands true for fake messages or  ‘Lottery Messages’ , which does not come under the definition of unsolicited telemarketing though it comes under Commercial Communication as defined under the Regulation. As a result one still receives such SMS or Calls even if he takes the pain to register in the DND registry. The Consumers is left with the only option of lodging complaint against their service providers for unsolicited transactional messages or calls as governed under Telecom Consumers Protection and Redressal of Grievances Regulation. In case the grievance is not redressed even after exhausting the procedure, an individual complainant without prejudice to his right to approach an appropriate Court of Law may approach Public Grievance Cell of Department of Telecommunications (DoT). This applied only in case the offender can be traced or identified. There has been an instance in Kerala wherein the victim with the help of local police was able to coerce the offender to come to India under the disguise of advancing money for the purported ‘lottery’ he had won. He was arrested and later put to jail. Such instances are rare and need the active support of the victim who needs to work in tandem with the enforcement agencies. However, habitual offenders have been defining crude plans which helps him to escape before been caught.

How to tackle? 

The larger issue of tackling fake SMS/Calls lies in building a technical infrastructure to prevent such SMS/Calls in reaching the customer base in India. Tracking signals and latlogs has been employed in an efficient manner by different technical agencies. Since many of them operate through the internet and keep on changing their IP Address, it is not easy to identify the exact location or locate the perpetrator. While a complete foolproof system may not be possible, it can definitely decrease the extent of damage.

Mobile literacy and etiquettes go to a large extent of preventing and even acting against the real perpetrators. Since the mobile and internet gives scope of privacy, so does the secrecy involved in such faking.  It is import for mobile users 1) Not to get induced by such SMS/Calls, especially those which involve sending money 2) Not to reply to such SMS/Calls 3) To know about the grievance redressal mechanisms such as Police, TRAI, and Grievance Centres of the Service Providers he/she is using and lastly BEWARE.

 This further needs to be supported by legal machinery which can take action against the perpetrators. Since the general law is not adequate in preventing such offenders, it would be worthwhile to have a specific regulation to tackle the menace. Much needs to be done for assisting those who fall prey to such SMS, given the state of mobile literacy of customers in India. As long as the tendency exists, we can hear many instances of people getting excited at winning lotteries or winning a Trip to USA!! 

* Madhu.S is the Team Lead of CPPR and Nichu Willington has worked as Intern at CPPR