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12 shortlisted for Trai chief post
MUMBAI: The government screening committee put in place to find a replacement to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) chairman is said to have shortlisted 12 applications. Senior Trai officials told TOI that a decision in this regard is expected "within the next week.''

The Trai chairman's post is one of the most high-profile ones as the telecom sector symbolises India's reform process. In addition to telecom, Trai oversees broadcast, including radio and TV.

Sources indicated that the new appointee will get a salary of Rs 36 lakh per annum.

In February, the government had formed a committee headed by cabinet secretary K M Chandrasekhar to find a replacement for the current Trai chairman Nripendra Misra, who retires on March 22 after a three-year stint. Among other members in the committee is principal secretary to the prime minister T K A Nair.

Finance secretary Arun Ramanathan, telecom secretary Siddhartha Behura, consumer affairs secretary Yashwant Bhave, Maharashtra chief secretary Johny Joseph and former power secretary Anil Razdan are understood to be in the race for the post.

Sources indicated that the shortlisting--out of the 29 applications originally--was based on the candidate's experience and knowledge of the telecom sector. Interestingly, the criteria for the chairman's post issued by the government clearly states that the prospective candidate need not be from the government, though so far, Trai chairmen have always been retired IAS officers.

Incidentally, a staggering 15.4 million mobile lines were activated in India during January 2009, according to the Trai data. Though the number of additions has risen above the 10 million mark over the last few months, "15.4 million in one month is by far the biggest single addition to the mobile subscriber base. This takes the total number of wireless lines to 362.3 million, and, once the country's 37.75 million fixed lines are added, it takes India's total number of telephone lines to more than 400 million'', sources said.

The immense growth potential here has attracted overseas investors, including Japan's NTT DoCoMo, Bahrain Telecommunications and Norway's Telenor ASA.

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