Competitive Exams: Current Affairs 2012: Andimuthu Raja

Andimuthu Raja (born May 10, 1963, Perambalur, Tamil Nadu) is a politician and member of the the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party. After becoming a third time member in the fifteenth Lok Sabha he served as cabinet minister heading the ministry of communications and information technology in the current Manmohan Singh government. He was asked to resign following accusations of corruption in relation to the 2G scam that has made him privy to continuous media attention and scrutiny. The scam has cost the government 1.76 lakh crore.

Academic Qualification

  • Bsc-Government Arts College, Trichy
  • BL-Government Law College, Madurai
  • ML-Government Law College, Trichy.

Biography

Andimuthu Raja's political journey started when he became a first time member of the 11 Lok Sabha in 1996. This DMK loyalist has also been the Union minister of state in 2000 and 2003 where he was in charge of rural development and that of health and family development respectively. A. Raja was re elected and became a third time member in the 15th Lok Sabha where he ended up heading the ministry for communications and information technology. His tryst with public life started right from his college days when he became part of the Dravidar Kazhagam founded by E. V. R Periyar. He has also presided over as president in Dr Ambedkar Thinkers Forum and has been the secretary of the Rationalist Forum and Tamil Ilakkiya Peravai (Literary movement) during his days in Perambalur. He is also a writer and has contributed many articles to many English and Tamil dailies. He is married to M. A Parameshwari and they have one child.

Controversy

  • A. Raja's term as minister of communications and technology has been full of controversy. He has been accused of massive corruption and is the chief accused in the 2G scam which has rocked the nation. A. Raja on his part has flouted many of the norms and procedures that were to be followed. The scam has cost the government Rs. 1.76 lakh crores. The issue dates back to 2008 when the government had announced that they would issuing 2G licenses for private telecom players. On this front Raja faces several allegations. Some of them which are:
  • Entry fee for the 2G licenses in 2008 were the same as it was in 2001. That in its self amounts to huge loses plus the mobile user base had shot up from 350 million in 2008 than the 4 million back in 2001.
  • Rules were changed after the process had begun. The cut off dates for applications had been advanced by a week. Licenses were handed out on a first come first serve basis instead of allowing auctions and inviting bids from the telecom companies.
  • Raja was accused of ignoring the advice of Finance Ministry, Law Ministry and Telephone Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). TRAI on the other hand had recommended auctioning of spectrum licenses according to market rates.
  • Raja is also accused of showing favoritism. Back in 2008 9 companies received scarce airwave licenses for 2G spectrum and as many as 122 circle wise licenses were issued. New players like SWAN TELECOM and UNITECH received licenses without any prior experience in spite of one of them not meeting the eligibility criteria. Swan Telecom then received the license for $340 million and managed to sell a 45% stake to UAE's ETISALAT for for $900 million. This ballooned the companies'valuation to $2 billion. And they did all this without getting a single subscriber. UNITECH too has a similar story. After paying $365 million as license fee they sold a 60% stake to Norway's TEALENOR for $1.36 billion. This helped its valuation to soar to almost two billion dollars and again they did all this without gaining a single subscriber. And all the nine companies paid DoT only Rs. 10, 772 crore for 2G licenses.
  • With intense media scrutiny and pressure from the opposition, Raja was forced to resign. He has been subject to constant criticism from all quarters and has been questioned by the CBI of late. The opposition on its part has been demanding a JPC probe to look into the 2G scam which the congress party has refused. The parliament as a result has not functioned smoothly for most of the winter with the 2G issue being the only bone of contention. The Congress government on its part has setup the PAC which is headed by BJP leader Mr. Murali Manohar Joshi which will look into the 2 G scam.