Karnataka's sorry state
The recent incident of Narayana Murthy quitting the chairmanship of the Bangalore International Airport Ltd over certain remarks made by Deve Gowda does not bode well either for the state or the stature of former Prime Minister. Murthy is one of the persons responsible for putting India on international IT world map. He is the promoter of a company which today provides employment to over 45,000 people, out of which half are in Karnataka itself. Chief ministers of various states are zealously welcoming his company, Infosys Technology, to set up its development centre in their state. Murthy has achieved all this within a short span of 15 years. In spite of such achievements Gowda (who became Prime Minister due to circumstances then prevailing) is questioning Murthy's contribution to the state's development.
According to a recent survey by ProjectsToday, Karnataka's share in the country's total project investment has gone down from 7.6 per cent in September 2004 to 6.6 per cent in September 2005. During the same period total project outstanding in the state has gone down by nearly 13 per cent. It should be remembered that it is the Dharam Singh-led government (of which Gowda's party is a coalition partner) which is in power in the state.
Internationally known companies like Mittal Steel and Posco have lined up huge investment in states like Jharkhand and Orissa. How many such investment proposals Karnataka has received so far despite having plenty of iron ore resources? Even Tata Steel has ignored the state for investment. In recent years how many mega projects have been implemented in the state by private investors? Even those which were announced are delayed due to various reasons. The Mangalore Power Project by Nagarjuna group, the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor Project by Nandi group and the Bangalore International Airport Project - all are facing considerable delay, mainly because of political interference.
According to Transparency International India-CMS study on corruption in 20 Indian states, Karnataka ranks 17 as against Bihar's 20. In other words, the state where India's silicon valley is situated is one of the most corrupt states in India. No wonder our former Prime Minister sees corruption in each and every deal of the state. If Bangalore has become an IT hub of India and to an extent of the world, it is not because of the efforts of political leaders like Gowda, but because of the services of people like Narayana Murthy and others like Wipro. What Karnataka needs today is not people like Gowda and Singh who see political opportunity in every action of others, but visionaries like Vishweshwarayya.
[24 October 2005]