Debates & opposition concerning these issues are part of this process & those that oppose cannot be termed 'vested interests' by those that seek 'speedy' privatization with claims that the aam-aadmi is paying a huge price & that privatization has already made things move towards services becoming world-class (whatever that means) .
When a comment as above was made supposedly in response to a post I made (check this), I thought the entire matter called for a separate debate, and hence this blog.
World-class (whatever that means):
I suppose nobody would deny that Indian products and services have come a long way from the pre-liberalisation times when the public sector was supposed to dominate the commanding heights of the economy, except of course where liberalisation hasn't happened - more specifically in the critical infrastructure areas like power supply, water supply, public bus transport services, railways.
And, though not much of a globe trotter these days, unlike many of my worthy friends here, I dare say that our airlines, telecom, insurance, banking, TV/ radio broadcasting, courier and such services are today comparable to the best in the world. Yes, my info is not necessarily first hand, and as such, I could stand corrected if I am wrong.
Yes, I admit not everybody who is not for change, inspite of the overwhelming evidence favouring it (which is also largely not denied), does it because he/ she is harbouring vested interests. But,'vested interest' can even be driven by non-pecuniary benefits - like when you support a temple, dedicated to your favourite deity, even when it encroaches onto the footpath, which action is against overall public interest.
That said, while I am not sure if the PM had any concrete basis in making the allegation that the Koodankulam agitation was funded by outside agencies inimical the country's progress, I have often wondered how many of the 'professional opposers' sustain their activities.
Apart from vested interests, the reasons can be any or a combination of the following -
b) old-world romanticism (check this);
c) maai-baap sarkaarism (only government can be trusted to do everything);
e) resistance to change (status-quoism);
f) fence-sitting tendency;
g) wanting to be seen to be siding with the underdogs;
h) wanting to be seen to be politically correct;
i) fear of the unknown;
j) fear of private sector marauders who could exploit a situation to the hilt to the detriment of the environment, given the poor regulatory regime (actually, even Coal India's and other PSU's track records are not too good on this score, either);
k) fear that unless the regulatory mechanism is fully and perfectly in place, the private sector will run riot;
l) opposing for opposing's sake;
m) opposing since it's supported by somebody you have a specific dislike for;
n) plain cussedness;
o) guilt complex out of availing world class services, even as the poor are getting a raw deal even on essential services (provided by the government);
p) fear that the private sector will make huge profits, even if in the process you get better services at cheaper prices, and the players pays their taxes;
q) fear that the Corporate sector will become all too powerful and an uncontrollable lobby;
r) Corporate sector's inherent drive for limitless growth, and its impact on the environment;
s) the ever-widening gap between the rich and poor.
The list has been compiled by my understanding of the reasons why many of the people I normally interact with are not prepared to come out openly in support of privatisation/ outsourcing, that extending even to the few who will perhaps go to the extent of saying 'not over my dead body'. Well, the list is not comprehensive - may be others would want to add on, as we go along.
The reasons listed at q,r & s are actually mine. But, against 'q', I would like to think that if the mecca of capitalism can elect an Obama for its President, humanity has a way of correcting the excesses. And, the way economic growth has more or less plateaued out in the developed world, shows there is after all a limit for growth - point raised at 'r' (either way, we are far from that stage, and fast-paced growth is important for us - check this. The important thing is to ensure that the growth moves along the right lines). Further, many who become rich, eventually turn to philanthrophy - point made at 's'.
Whatever, there is no gainsaying the importance of an effective regulatory regime, and that is all the more reason why the government should be concentrating on that. Also, since its all important role as the regulator gets badly compromised when it becomes a player in addition, as I have been repeating ad nauseum, it should start easing itself out of the role of the player, except where its presence is essential.
PS: Be warned, in future, if you oppose privatisation/ outsourcing, you will be fitted into one of the above slots :))).