I was delighted to read, in yesterday’s FT, that India’s telecom is heading for doomsday. Of course, the paper didn’t say as much, but the fact that telecom is the worst performing sector in the stock market is consolation enough for the daily insults that stupid, opinionated telecom marketing executives hurled at us over the four years that I had the misfortune of working on telecom accounts. So petty and stupid were they, they shook to the core my hopes that Indians may someday be a race of professionals.
Of course, the fall of telecom had little, if anything, to do with them. In spite of all the bribery and big talk, in the end economics played its hand. We are just too poor to give telecom the sought of profitable growth it sought.
Moreover, telecom companies never fulfilled the rural quotas they were supposed to, over-saturating the urban markets instead. If the labourer in the city couldn’t keep in touch with his family back home, why should he fill the telecom companies’ coffers? The question was basic enough. Somehow, telecom companies never felt the need to answer it, perhaps because they could, till now, trick Western speculators (a notoriously gullible lot when it comes to India’s impending ‘rise’) to keep pouring in money.
Actually, the writing was on the wall years ago, when the Ambanis fought over Reliance Telecom. The matter boiled down to churn management, or its absence, with the younger brother questioning the older brother’s marketing spends into a bottomless bucket.
Strangely, little was written about it at that time. Even more strangely, the younger brother ended up with the telco when the empire was divided!