Memoranda for Submission to the Chief Ministers of the Two Telugu States.


My experiences with the “Financial Advisors” in the Department of Telecoms


Dt:  15/3/19


My experiences with the “Financial Advisors” in the Department  of  Telecoms


Dr T H Chowdary*



When I was General  Manager Telecoms of Andhra Pradesh ( 1978-‘83), in order to render  true and prompt service, I equipped every Junior Engineer with a motor cycle and  every Sub- divisional  engineer with a 4 wheeler (Jeep or Van) . Usually sanction for such provision and purchase of the vehicles is to be obtained from the  Telecom Directorate in the Ministry in Delhi. I did nothing of this  sort. When the  Finance Officer in my office advised me to get Directorate  approval,  I told him I would  first  purchase the  vehicles and he can inform the Directorate that I took this decision on my own .


2. In 1983 July I moved to the   Head Quarters  in Delhi as Dy Director General in -charge of Telephoen services in the entire country.  I prepared a note that the junior engineers and  Sub -division officers and  Divisional  Engineers  all over the country in -charge of maintenance  should be  equipped with motor cycles /  2 and 4-wheelers .  I got the approval of the Members of the  Telecom board concerned  and then  issued the order to the   General Managers in the field.  I sent a Note   to the Finance,  which was headed   by a postal officer (Sri Devarajan) in the rank of Member Finance. A DDG (Finance) under him also from the Postal Department . None of them are any accounts or finance  experts. The Postal Department itself  did not  want these  people as their Financial  Advisors and Member Finance. They got accounts /finance



officers from the  Government of India on deputation. When my note   for equipping the field officers  went to the DDG Finance , a postal  officer he wrote , “will not  3- wheelers instead of  4- wheelers do  to SDOs and  Divisional Engineers”   I returned the note with the  remark , “ one wheelers  would be  cheaper  than the  3 –wheelers.  Should  we try to get such vehicles ? ” The officer took offence to what I wrote ,when he spoke  to me, I told him firmly, “why do we require  the financial advisor and that too from a postal officer just to know that  3 -wheelers  cheaper than   4- wheelers? He went  silent  and  I  had my way. This is the    type of  “finance  advice” coming from persons who are  in the postal department but managed to fill up  posts in the  Finance Ranks of the   DOT.


3. There was another, similar  encounter of mine,  with  “finance  experts”  drawn from the postal  services.  When I was Chairman & Managing Director of  Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL) I sent a proposal  regarding  acquisition of  satellite  capacity and investment  in an International  Satellite Corporation . The Member Finance of the  DOT who had no background of  finance but is simply a postal service man, wrote to me that the  proposal would be discussed and that I should send  Director Fiancé of VSNL to him. As CMD of the  VSNL I went to him to discuss my proposal. He said , “ this is a financial matter you should send the Director of  Finance of  your company for this  purpose.” I told him  you ask any question  about  the proposal,  I will answer. He said, “you are  an engineer . How can  you  answer  financial  issues. I shot back, “you are  a post man. What do you  know  about  finance.  It is the misfortune of the telecom engineers in the  DOT that they  had accepted you a post man as a  Member Finance  of the  Telecom Board . The postal board did not think that you are fit as advisor  for them on finance. They got  a real career finance man from the  finance dept of the government  as their advisor. He had no answer . He did not ask any question. He simply accepted my proposal and sent it to the ministry for   acceptance.


4. When (1969-’71) I was DDG Bombay  Telephones, for the  first time in the  history  of the  department I undertook a project to construct underground  duct way in Bombay  for  placing telephone cables in ducts. The earlier  practice was repeatedly  dig  trenches and lay cables  underground . While  doing so, the  existing  ones  would  get  punctured but this fact would come to  light  only when in the monsoon, water  enters the cables and    the telephone  services are  disrupted for weeks on end . Further, every time we trench to  lay cables, we have to pay very heavy sums to the  Municipality for so called reinstatement of the trenches to  make them good as  carriage way  or pavement.  To avoid the repeated  cost and disruption in service, once for all a cable duct with upto 12 duct in a  nest was planned by me. This means a heavy  investment to avoid future  costs  of  repeated digging,  reinstatement and repair of  damaged cables and  interrupted  service with consequent loss of revenue.


5. When the  project was sent  to the Directorate  for sanction, the Finance section with a postal officer holding that post  was asking me to give  financial justification what would be the  revenue  you get etc . I told him you are  just a  postal officer and you have experience  with   carriage and delivery of post. How are you an expert in finance? You are  asking me to  justify . Do you   understand what   a cable duct is and what it is meant for and  that it is the  standard  practice in all cities in many countries in the world.   I picked the file from him, went to  the Engineer Member and asked him  to  approve and  sanction should be conveyed, marking he file only “for information” to the finance section . It was done.  (950 words)