Thursday, May 28, 2015

My Interview in Dagens Nyheter in March 2012 about 2G Scam

Below is the rough translation of my interview appeared in Swedish-Norwegian newspaper - Dagens Nyheter (DN). The interview was published on March 23, 2012. I was in Norway to present a paper on "India's Telecom Scandal' at annual media conference called SKUP. The interview was bascially focused on the role of Telenor, the Government controlled telecom company in 2G Scam :
 Telenor knew all 

The Indian journalist J. Gopikrishnan (41) revealed the corruption scandal that could cost Telenor 17 billion kroner. He refuses to accept that Telenor did not know the about the corruption allegations surrounding on its Indian partner. Telenor says it is innocent. I won’t agree, said the Indian journalist J. Gopikrishnan.

He was the first journalist who questioned how a number of companies without the knowledge of the telecom industry were awarded cellular licenses in India in 2008. Gopikrishnan has since been credited with having discovered what is known as India's biggest corruption scandal. Time magazine has named the issue as one of the worst examples of abuse of power ever.

Among the companies that were awarded mobile phone licenses was the real estate company Unitech. Norwegian Telenor entered into partnership with Unitech in 2009. Today, their jointly owned Uninor 41 million customers, but the company is now without a mobile license after a recent highest Indian court’s order.

In December 2008, J. Gopikrishnan and medium-sized newspaper The Pioneer revealed close ties between the former telecommunications minister Andimuthu Raja and several real estate companies that were awarded mobile licenses.

The way the awards were handed out on, after a first come first served principle, is later cancelled by the Indian Supreme Court, and both the now former telecommunications minister and Telenor partner Sanjay Chandra is accused of corruption.

Telenor, the company came after the licenses were awarded. The company therefore believes it is an innocent casualty in the case, and that it had no reason to doubt the way the licenses were awarded.

Telenor’s claim that they did not know anything can’t be believable, says J. Gopikrishnan. I do not think you Norwegians are stupid. First, Telenor was very much aware of the value inherent in the Indian telecom market, and must have understood that the licenses were awarded for cheap, he says. Obviously there was huge corruption and known to all.

Second, Telenor is familiar with the political divisions in India and Asia. The company knows well that it is not possible to enter India when they have an  already established telecom operation in Pakistan, says Gopikrishnan, referring to the inflamed relations between Pakistan and India.
He believes that Telenor must have relied on political connections of its Indian partner and to was allowed to invest in India by paying a premium amount.  He believes, however, Telenor can work in the Indian market in the long run if they win auction.

Robbery in broad daylight

Telenor was proud on the wrong partner knowing all. Now, the best thing it can do now is to pay the market price when the licenses will be auctioned again. J. Gopikrishnan believes this corruption case in India is robbery in broad daylight. He tells about the deadlines that were changed in the last minute and that the telephone companies were able to raise money in such a short time are ample examples of manipulation. Now he believes the Indian Government's only option is to sell the cancelled licenses again in an auction to the highest possible price. Gopikrishnan guess Telenor must have to pay between three and four billion kroner to restore the licenses Uninor lost, corresponding to 17-23 million kroner. 

This weekend Gopikrishnan is attending journalists' conference of SKUP in Tonsberg town.
For me, this is not a scoop. For me it was luck in the career. I met a whistleblower and he guided me. I only made the job a journalist should do, he says when asked about his comments on the journalistic work.


  1. Greatest work of any journalist in India. Sorry to note that his detective work and investigative work has since been wrongully claimed as his finding by a well known politician in India

  2. Not at all. If you are refering to Swamy, he said in many of his interviews about Gopikrishnan and other telecom secretary who worked with Raja who helped him finding the scam. He also said that they wanted to be anonymous for obvious reasons. All these were revealed in the presence of gopikrishnan and the telecom secretary (Ashirvadham Acharya)