OVER 80,000 OUT of 1.5 lakhs of the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) employees have applied for voluntary retirement. If all 100,000 eligible for it retire, with huge amounts from your pocket, there will be only 50,000 – one third – left.
The Nigam (Corporation) runs landline telephone services almost all over India as a monopoly. Most employees joined BSNL only because it is a public undertaking, to get paid whether they work or not. Many, therefore, don’t work. Complaints go unattended for long when BSNL has 1.5 lakh workers. Guess what will happen when less than one third of them remain.
The government sometimes says it may close down BSNL and at other times that it would be revived. It was unable to pay staff salaries in time. The employees have been going on strike or hunger strike repeatedly.
Some of the strikes are against the impending closure, while others highlight the favours allegedly shown to a private mobile service- provider in competition with BSNL mobile service – its main income source as its landline phone services are in loss. More and more landlines, for which there used to be a long waiting period earlier, are closing down,
As pointed out earlier, internet connections, extremely slow in India, work much better and are faster with fibre-optic cables laid. This requires digging, which needs permission of the municipality or civic corporation. Private operators bribe the civic officers to get it immediately, but BSNL, being in the public sector, cannot do so, it is alleged.
This can be proved only when all local self-government bodies (municipalities) are made to declare once a year the dates on which private and BSNL applications were received and the dates on which they were sanctioned. States will not make this mandatory as municipal elections involve party politics.
BSNL could go to anti-corruption authorities, but then who will bell the cat? There is corruption on both sides. More than one blog has been written about the dysfunctional BSNL and why it should be wound up. My recent experiences make me write again… and again ….and again.
An application for a fibre-optic broadband BSNL service was made on October 22. It has not been provided till today. Scores of complaints to the BSNL Customer Care department and even higher authorities online have not been even acknowledged, leave aside acted on. BSNL, which provides online connections, does not believe in online complaints. Customer are to go to its offices repeatedly to beg or bribe for a service for which it is competing with private operators.
The landline services too leave much to be desired. The telephone bill has, in microscopic letters, the phone number for complaints. Earlier it was 198 followed by phone number. It has now been changed to a toll-free number. When you ring the number a recorded voice asks you to press a number for the language you want to be used. Wait for all languages in the Constitution to be listed. You cannot make a choice before that.
Having complained before you know the number, but if you press it the recorded will continue to list all the languages. You press again. And again it will ask you to exercise your choice. You do, but you are again asked to do it – and the listing goes on. Then it asks you to exercise choice of service. Wait till the end to do it, but the same is asked again… and again. Finally you are told you have not chosen the service and your time is up. Or asked to stay on line – till eternity or till it is disconnected. There is only a record and no human at the other end.
All have applied for voluntary retirement. If you don’t know, ring again, and again, and…