When we started thinking about a news portal that is going to deal with developments specifically related to Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs), the first hurdle that we came across was ‘WHY.’ Why PSUs? That was the question we were asked by everyone we know within PSUs and outside. And our prompt response was, why not?
In the neoliberal world and an increasingly challenging atmosphere, the business environment for PSUs too has changed significantly. The Maharatnas, Navratnas and some of the Miniratnas are making their presence felt on the international stage and competing with global giants. This competition has brought about a radical change in the way PSUs were thought of in terms of their roles and responsibilities, their ownership and management and their so-called autonomy and real character — a radical change in thinking from an accepted point of view to a new one. In this new and dynamic scenario, the role of media becomes strategically important. And PSU Watch aspires to place the spotlight on PSUs as the sector traverses through this period of change. Our role is going to be that of a watchdog, one that highlights important positive developments, and subjects everyone and everything to scrutiny.
By virtue of their structure, CPSEs provide a lot of leeway to the government to pull the strings, which is often employed to further the country’s socio-political-economic goals. However, the catch-22 arises when these goals are misplaced, hampering PSU’s autonomy and often their finances, that is vital in an environment that puts the Darwinian theory to practice and advocates the survival of the fittest. A report released in 2012 by KPMG on PSU functioning said, “Of late, a number of alleged fraud charges and increased public awareness have resulted in an increased scrutiny of the decisions taken by the CPSEs. It hinders their quick decision-making process.” Six years on and with a new government at the helm, which is almost on the verge of a sunset, what has changed? Is there a clearly laid down ownership policy for any PSU? Aren’t passive ownership and excessive interference still the key operative terms when we talk about operational efficiency in PSUs? Despite intent, why could the government not develop a structured and transparent nomination process for the boards of PSUs? Do PSU boards not evoke a sense of ambiguity and lack of professionalism and political interference? Can these enterprises afford to be tagged along with those keywords in an ever-evolving business environment? If your answer is no, then that’s where the purpose of PSU Watch resides. We report on every possible development in the functioning of PSUs, whatever comes to us and whatever we may dig into.
PSU Watch is a business news brand of 27 Frames Communications. Eventually, it will also take the shape of a monthly news magazine. We are a small team of super energetic young journalists.
The story of India as it was and what it will be can never be imagined without the mention of PSUs. Here’s hoping that through our well-researched and incisive reportage, we will be able to tell stories about the public sector that have not been told before, give our readership a new viewpoint and effect some change for the larger good.