The incident at Galwan valley has instigated the Indian government to take a hard look at some of the deals it has allowed in the past, including BSNL’s Rs 9,000-crore 4G tender. The Department of Telecommunications has instructed the public sector company to rework the deal, so as to keep Chinese involvement to a minimum.
The idea is, that the use of Chinese equipment in the tender should either be completely avoided, or kept to a minimum. The company was one of the biggest players in the telecom market a decade ago, but has failed to catch up to the likes of Airtel, Vodafone, and now, Jio. BSNL, burdened by Rs. 13,000 crore of debt, asked for a bailout from the government last year, including paying Rs. 850 crore (over $122 million) worth of salaries in June.
This new tender is the company’s last hope to stay in business, a chance at rehabilitation, if you will. BSNL’s plans to expand to 4G services might seem like too little too late, but it might be the company’s only hope.
However, the government fears that this tender can help China increase its influence in the public sector in India, along with paving the way for Huawei to establish a stronghold in the company. 5G is right around the corner and Huawei is playing a significant role in the technology’s innovation, so the fears aren’t totally uncalled for. Moreover, Huawei has always been suspected for having ties with China’s People’s Liberation Army, something it has been unable to shake off.
Due to alarming foreign involvement in the deal, the department for promotion of industry and internal trade had asked BSNL to rework its tender a while back. Now, it has added a China specific clause, pointing the gun right where the target is.
To the same end, the government has also asked private companies to reduce their dependence on Chinese equipment.
China finds a ready market in its immediate neighbour for a lot of the products it manufactures. Indian market, along with its high populace and affordable data rates, has been a lucrative space for tech companies worldwide. Losing all stakes in the country might not pan out well for China, which is already engaged in a technological war with U.S.