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India – The evolution and corruption of licensing

Ewan Sutherland (LINK Centre, University of the Witwatersrand, Braamfontein, South Africa)


ISSN: 1463-6697

Article publication date: 9 May 2016



This paper aims to review the licensing in India, including the development of universal licences and of the now infamous 2G spectrum scam.


This paper is a case study drawing on a side range of official documents, including inquiry reports, policies, licences and court judgements.


Liberalisation of the sector introduced opportunities for lobbying and corruption that lead to very unusual market structures, with many operators and too little spectrum.

Research limitations/implications

Interviews with the principals were impossible.

Practical implications

It is now necessary for the government to adopt good governance processes, especially in respect of 4G and th inevitable consolidation of operators in a fair and equitable manner.

Social implications

The governance systems are incapable of controlling the corruption in the telecommunications sector and require substantial redesign.


The paper is the first to relate corporate political activity and corruption to outcomes in the telecommunications sector in India.



Sutherland, E. (2016), "India – The evolution and corruption of licensing", info, Vol. 18 No. 3, pp. 4-26.



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