BIAL: the forgotten shame

Bengaluru's new airport will doubtless stop travelers from frowning if not go as far as bringing smiles to their faces. But hey, aren't we missing something amidst gigabytes after gigabytes of rant on the airport itself, its facilities, approach roads and traffic? With popular media devoting itself to the number of conveyor belts and plush interiors, the public is being gently escorted away from the shameful way in which Indian administration has suppressed The Kannadiga People, their right to employment, their language in regard to this airport.

We are being made to forget that Kannadigas were promised jobs in return for land and cheated in broad daylight. We are being made to forget that the airport continues to stink of Hindi and flushes Kannada - the language of the very land on which the airport stands - down microprocessor-controlled urinals. We are being made to forget how Hampi and the rest of Karnataka's proud history and culture have been considered too inferior for the ambience of our own airport. We are being made to forget how workers of the Karnataka Rakshana Vedike - who were peacefully demonstrating against the injustice done to Kannadigas have been made to fill jails like criminals. Who are the real criminals? Those who ask for their own rights, or those who suppress others' rights like colonial masters?

Yes, all the hue and cry about material comforts at the new airport has buried the fact that the Kannadiga spirit together with everything that unites Kannadigas and makes us one has been given a death blow. Everything that we were, are, and want to be has been gloriously neglected. We are being told that what matters is what others were, are, and want to be.

Won't we get up? Won't we scratch the shining walls of the new airport and stand up for fellow Kannadigas? Won't we? Won't we? Won't we?

Also read: Airport: what ought to be and what shall be, Bengaluru should learn from Beijing

Industrialisation of Karnataka should mean employment for Kannadigas

With election aroma strong in the air, the fluttering sound of manifesto booklets thrown by political parties has started fading away. Among such manifestos is one peculiar intention to put efforts in ensuring more jobs for Kannadigas, especially in the IT sector. Although the immediately apparent intention of reserving jobs seems glaringly myopic, we need to understand as to why this type of a demand is there from Kannadigas and what the industries, not limited to IT mind you, need to do to allay the concerns of Kannadigas that they are not being benefitted in terms of the employment opportunities created by these industries.

Rewind a few decades and we notice that the industrial sector in Karnataka had been flourishing in those years as well as it is today - only difference being the nature and magnitude of industry. But one similarity that stands clear is the trend of indifference in the attitude of industries towards the employment needs of Kannadigas, even when the much needed support from the state government has always been there.

Although industries have created employment in lakhs, the number of Kannadigas benefited from this has been a meagre portion. And the primary reason for this glaring problem is the blatant nepotism of non-Kannadiga officials in employing people from their own state for jobs in Karnataka even when qualified and eligible Kannadigas have been available in Karnataka. We saw this happening in Central Government departments and PSUs in 60s and 70s; in the IT, ITES and other sectors in the 90s and 2000s. These two waves of industrialization in Karnataka have seen more than a million jobs generated but the number of Kannadigas who have gained employment because of this development is not encouraging in anyway.

The fact that employment is the cause for economic development of the masses, and hence of the land they inhabit is one of the main reasons for the state government to provide sops for increased industrialization. But if employment for Kannadigas in substantial proportions has not been one of the outcomes of this industrialization policy, Karnataka government needs to think about ways to set it right.

India's National Imagination doesn't give a shit about Karnataka?

In the run up to Karnataka's elections, CNN-IBN recently aired a story called "Bangalore versus Karnataka" in which the reporter's verbal diarrhea made her claim the following with the authority of a sage-cum-economics-nobel:

Bangalore is at the centre of India's National Imagination. But Karnataka is not. In fact a cultural, economical and political divide separates Bangalore from Karnataka.
How can CNN-IBN get away with airing such bullshit? From where did it cook up this new term called "India's National Imagination"? Whatever it is, how can Karnataka itself be sidelined? Does CNN-IBN understand the emotions which arise in Kannadigas when the word Karnataka is uttered? Does CNN-IBN understand the glorious history of Karnataka? Does CNN-IBN understand that the history of India is nothing but the history of its linguistic peoples, and how the word India doesn't mean anything to a farmer in Kollegala or Belagavi?

The Bangalore of whose definition is alien to Karnataka? How much of Bangalore has CNN-IBN seen to claim that it's culturally, economically and politically separate from Karnataka? In any case, why is it good to have our cities completely alienate themselves economically, politically and culturally from the rest of the state they are in? Why is that within the so-called grand National Imagination?

Really speaking, there is no Indian National Imagination today, although there can be one. India is struggling to find an identity for itself amidst all the diversity. The only correct Indian National Imagination can be the sum total of Karnataka's National Imagination, Tamil Nadu's National Imagination, Gujarat's National Imagination, and the National Imagination of every other subscribing linguistic state. Without the linguistic states themselves, there is no India, no India's National Anything.

Doesn't media have to be responsible for what it says anymore? Or is it under the delusion that India is what it decides behind the screens? Is CNN-IBN listening and trying to correct logical flaws in its reporting?

Dear Next Government: Twenty Things That Matter Most

Elections to the Karnataka Assembly are round the corner & all the major political parties participating in this poll are busy bringing out their manifestos. In these manifestos, we come across "Rice at Rs 2 per kg", "Free colour TVs for BPL card holders" type of promises. It appears that the political parties are focusing less on areas which need to be addressed for long-term development & are resorting to mostly populist measures.

We expect the political party / parties that form the government, to work on solid long term initiatives & policy changes which can put Karnataka on the path of development in the long run. Kannadigas would like to see some serious work to be done by the government that gets to work from June 08.

Karnataka needs a government which has a long term vision of where we need to go & clarity on how to get there. Karnataka needs a government to protect the interests of Kannada-Kannadiga-Karnataka by lobbying & fighting hard in New Delhi to get the required resources. Karnataka needs a government which has the political will to create systems which would reduce corruption, punish the corrupt thereby ensuring effective delivery of government programmes to the beneficiaries.

At a minimum, we at KARNATIQUE wish to see the new state government work on the following 20 points. We believe that these twenty things matter the most to the state here and now:
  1. Provide an industry-friendly policy which would generate large scale employment opportunities for Kannadigas.
  2. Provide physical infrastructure like roads, railways, airports, seaports for increased industrialization.
  3. Ensure adequate power supply for the agricultural sector & industry.
  4. Provide basic physical infrastructure (roads, bridges) to the rural & semi-urban regions of the state. Provide long-term solutions to the problems of physical infrastructure (wider roads, mass transit, better traffic management, etc) in urban areas.
  5. Deliver quality healthcare service to Kannadigas who avail medical service in government-run medical centers.
  6. Deliver quality education service to Kannadigas who use government facilities / services in the education sector.
  7. Provide proper cold-storage facilities in rural areas to help farmers store their produce.
  8. Provide proper physical infrastructure (roads, rails, vehicles, etc) for farmers to transport their produce to the markets & also provide proper information infrastructure (telephone, fax, internet, etc) for farmers to have the right information for decision making.
  9. Provide clean drinking water & required irrigation facilities to every part of the state.
  10. Reduce government red-tape by re-engineering the way the government works (re-engineer the processes & practices, use technology) thereby reducing corruption & ensuring better deployment / utilization of available funds.
  11. Promote Karnataka Tourism in a big way. Present the wide range of tourism opportunities - historical monuments, cultural heritage sites, wildlife, beaches, folk forms, etc to the world and generate revenues for the state & employment for the local population through these measures.
  12. Setup competency building centers to address the shortage of skilled manpower in industries, thus enhancing the chances of Kannadigas getting employment.
  13. Utilize Karnataka’s share of river waters to the fullest extent possible to provide drinking water & irrigation facilities to every part of the state.
  14. Lobby hard with Government of India to mobilize funds / resources from the central pool & deploy them for development work in Karnataka.
  15. Ensure balanced development across the state by implementing the guidelines of the Nanjundappa Report on regional imbalances. Provide for special financial packages towards the development of Karnataka’s border districts.
  16. Implement Kannada as administrative language across the state, thereby ensuring effective implementation / rollout of the state government’s programmes. Press for implementation of Kannada as the administrative language in Central Government offices in Karnataka, thereby ensuring effective implementation / rollout of the central government’s programmes in Karnataka.
  17. During times of crisis – floods, droughts, earthquake, etc; ensure that adequate funds / resources are provided to Karnataka.
  18. Provide funds for institutions that are doing constructive work for the promotion of Kannada-Kannadiga-Karnataka.
  19. Push for greater implementation of federalism as envisaged in the spirit of the constitution. Push for removal of measures by the central government to impose Hindi on non-Hindi speaking population of India.
  20. Push for a nation-wide policy formulation & subsequent legislation to restrict uncontrolled inter-state migration.
Do you have something to add to this list? Something else you’d like the next government to work on? We’re open to comments and discussion, and of course to increasing this list beyond Twenty Things (we know there's more). So, come on! Participate in the discussion and help create a broad citizens’ charter for the new government that will get elected in the coming days.