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Starting with BSNL & MTNL, India’s new govt must bring bankruptcy process to public sector

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One of the major reform initiatives of the outgoing government is the introduction of an effective bankruptcy process that — so far — has taken place in only the private sector. Why not subject government-owned companies to the transparency and clear-cut decision-making of the same or a similar bankruptcy process? Handing over the matter to a judicial body like a tribunal, with all parties getting a fair hearing, can remove the political sting involved in such sensitive decisions — and also enforce some rationality. Once we are past this electoral season, during which all promises are presented as free lunches, could we bring such non-populist issues into focus? Like fixing the problems of the public sector? “Fix” as in: Let the good ones be, salvage the troubled ones with an approved programme that has finite budget limits, sell those that can’t be salvaged, and shut down the rest.

Among the prime candidates to be looked at is Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL), which says its mission is to be the leading telecom service provider and the most admired telecom brand. Yet, it has been losing........

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