Public Sector

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The old debate on the public versus the private sector— which one of the two is better for the growth of Indian economy—has been long alive.

It has assumed increased importance with India’s recent impressive performance in all fields—from IT to computer software, from telecommunications to health, from generation of energy to manufacturing of industrial goods.

While the popular belief is that most of the public sector undertakings are white elephants—a drain on the Indian economy, the fact remains that many public sector undertakings, mainly in the field of telecommunications and petroleum and gas explorations such as the Bharat Sanchar Nigam and the National Thermal Power Corporation, have outperformed most of the private sector undertakings in the same fields and registered more profits than them.In telecommunications, the Bharat Sanchar Nigam continues to lead from the front leaving many big and reputed private players such as Bharti Mobile, Bharti Telenet, BTA Cellcom, Escotel Mobile Communication, Tata Internet Services and Hutchison Telecom East far behind.

Where the private players have even made losses, the Bharat Sanchar Nigam has made huge profits. In the banking sector, too, public sector undertakings remain far ahead vis-a-vis most of the private players in the business.

In the finance sector, predominantly banking, public sector undertakings have accounted hugely for the aggregate net profits compared to private sector undertakings. The situation remains somewhat same even now.

So, are public sector undertakings not the proverbial white elephants? Public sector undertakings are not wholly loss- making ventures and many, in fact, are miles ahead of their private counterparts.

However, the situation, on the whole, is somewhat different, and private sector undertakings, being overall more competitive and profit-oriented are still better…...

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