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Opinion
Mihir Sharma

India’s Billion-Dollar Shakedown

Bureaucrats are treating the telecom sector as a piggy bank, not an economic engine. 

Vodafone may have been looking to exit India quietly.

Vodafone may have been looking to exit India quietly.

Photographer: Indranil Mukherjee/AFP/Getty Images

Something about India’s telecom sector attracts its grasping state like a bee to honey. Most companies in the space have already been taxed, regulated, fined, licensed or just plain expropriated half to death. Yet that hasn’t stopped India’s bureaucrats, or its politicians, or even its judges. Ignoring the fact that telecom growth pulled the Indian economy toward double-digit growth back in the barely-remembered boom years of a decade ago, they seem to see the sector now less as an economic engine and more as a piggy bank.

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