Telco secretary shift surprises many

Telco secretary shift surprises many
The decision to shift Telecom Secretary J S Deepak has surprised bureaucratic circles as well as the telecom industry.

Deepak has been named India’s next Ambassador to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in the order issued by the Department of Personnel and Training on Wednesday night. The change comes at a time when the industry is divided over the mobile tariff rates offered by new operator Reliance Jio. As a head of the Telecom Commission, Deepak has opposed unrestricted freebies offered by any telecom operator to attract customers, as the sector is already suffering from heavy debt.

A 1982 batch IAS officer from Uttar Pradesh, Deepak, who is presently attending the Mobile World Congress at Barcelona, has been shifted with “immediate effect” from the Telecom Ministry and has been made Officer on Special Duty in the Commerce Department, a upgraded post from the director level position, said an official order. As per the order, he would have to assume charge as ambassador from June 1, and will serve till the date of his superannuation which is July 31, 2018.

Though the reason for his transfer was not known, one view is that the government wanted to put an experienced person in the WTO wing as Deepak already served in the Commerce Ministry as India’s chief negotiator at the WTO and for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, the mega Free Trade Agreement being negotiated by 16 countries.

But his sudden transfer surprised many in the Telecom Industry as he is credited with successfully conducting the first ever e-auction of spectrum in 2010 that fetched government over Rs 1.06 lakh crore in 2010, while also setting the roadmap for future auctions.

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