The BSNL’s landlines fell silent on September 7 when parts of Srinagar were hit by severe floods. Its broadband internet service also packed up the same day. Nearly three weeks have passed since the waters receded, and even small shopkeepers have begun repairing their businesses, but the so-called telecom giant has refused to stir itself, except for lame excuses, and turning itself into a purveyor of filth.
The BSNL’s deep pockets, extraordinary revenues, particularly in Kashmir, and technical manpower may be supposedly insufficient to mend its systems, but it suffers from no lack of time, creativity, or resources to keep its subscribers under a continuous barrage of suggestive and salacious intimations through the rather appropriately named “service messages.”
Some samples: dil ki baat zuban pay layiye,.dial karen 5432188, banayien haseen dost,.kareien apne dil ki sari baatein. dar kis baat ka. sirf Rs 3 mein abhi call karein. Or Aaj Koi Bhi Hot Video Dekho, Address: wap.59000.in/maverid/nh.jsp?code=OTESNDESMDA5NJQ4.” Yet another message reads: khubsurat din khubsurat ratein, kijiye humsey kisi bhi waqt dil khol kar rangeen baetein, dial 5432188 at Rs 3 per minute
According to very learned people in the country, India is on the way to becoming, or has already become, a superpower, courtesy its politicians in power, and this shameless state-sponsored soliciting must surely be a part of their political culture and an indispensible pillar of their cherished new edifice.
Yes, two exchanges were damaged in the floods, but apart from dispensing crap, the BSNL has done little to restore its services and systems in over twenty days when its flood-hit subscribers, from whom it rakes in millions in rent and bills, are counting on it for their communication needs, be it in re-establishing their livelihoods, professions, or studies.
The BSNL’s brass may learn some lessons from developed countries into whose ranks the country’s leaders have just gate-crashed and see whether telecom service providers there transmit messages without the users’ consent. Authorities concerned should take immediate note of the content of the Nigam’s messaging services, curb its patent illegality – with penalties if needed – and goad it to fulfill the role it is meant for. BSNL’s plea of 15 more days for restoring services does not wash.