Chief Minister Siddaramaiah will soon go on a business tour to the United States (US) to showcase Karnataka as a preferred destination for investment soon, IT/ BT Minister S R Patil said on Wednesday. - - - - Maintaining that Karnataka offers the best atmosphere for investment in various sectors including mining, education, science and technology, aerospace and automobile, he said, “The state government would offer special incentives to those investors who would choose Tier II cities,” he said.
For the full text of the report in the New Indian Express, click here
Actually, how serious can the CM be, when he projects Karnataka as an investment destination? Let's see how the state fares in three basic infrastructure areas, to begin with.
in June 2010, when Karnataka organised the GIM (Global Investment Meet), I had written about the dismal power scenario in the state (check here
). The situation has only worsened since then. So, those wanting to set up any industry/ business here, also need to plan for setting up their own power generating plants, coal/ fuel linkages thereof, etc.
What's even more frightening is the prospect of your getting electrocuted on the footpaths of Bangalore, with BESCOM just not bothering to carry out any maintenance work on the transformers and other electrical equipment, installed right across your way, it being totally broke (check here
Well, if you survive electrocution on footpaths, there are of course the various hazards, obstructions, encroachments, etc, on the footpaths, that can get you, with the BBMP just not bothering to rectify them (or just doing some cosmetic jobs, wherever undertaken), even with the courts coming down heavily on them - check this
When an earlier Dy Commissioner of Mysore found that, even with Cauvery and Kabini flowing by the city, the citizens were starved for water, he engaged the services of JUSCO (a TATA company) to upgrade the distribution system. To ensure citizen participation in the process, he engaged with the foremost civil society group in the city, viz the highly respected Mysore Grahakara Parishad (MGP). Realising that their well-entrenched vested interests were going to be undermined, the powerful "water mafia" got into the act, and set up a process of systematic sabotage of the scheme. Resulting from it all, at the end of the six-year contract period, the job remains incomplete, and the scheme, that could have been a model for all cities to emulate, stands discredited, much to the delight of the mafia, that's poised to take charge all over again. All the pleadings by the MGP and others to the powers that be, to salvage the situation, remain unheeded, so far - check here
So, all who want to invest in the state, please also make their own arrangements for their water needs, whether industrial or for drinking.
3) Public transport: The much talked about Namma Metro is taking shape, alright. But, given the size of the work, the progress is slow, and, to reach the levels of London, New York, Paris or even Delhi, it is going to take ages, ie if the agencies involved have not gone bust by then, considering the costs involved.
And, the universally applauded Namma Railu
(Commuter Rail) scheme, which could de-congest the city in the most cost-effective and fast way, doesn't even appear to have acquired the slightest bit of the CM's mind-space, yet.
Meanwhile, the only other form of public transport, in a city like Bengaluru, is the bus services provided by the government-owned monopoly, viz the BMTC. But, because of its serious capacity constraints, it can hardly cater to some 40% of the trips made by the citizens, leading to huge dependency on individualised forms of transport - cars and two-wheelers - this, in turn, leading to near grid-lock scenario, everyday, starting from just outside your gate. And, even with the Central government poised to bring in legislation allowing for reputed private players coming into bus operations, Namma sarkara doesn't appear prepared to entertain them - check here
. Even worse, the government does everything possible to kill the private operators, who have been providing fairly decent services in Mangalore - Udupi, Hubli-Dharwar, and a few other areas, which, luckily for the people there, had escaped the original clamp down - check this
As such, you may have the fanciest of cars to take you around. But, be prepared to spend half (if not more) of your working life stuck in traffic.
Beyond these, you have:
Administrative language issue:
All government notifications are now issued in Kannada only (check here
). If you so wish, you may ask for an English translation - but, it's still only a translation. As such, if there's a dispute on any matter, and it goes to court, the Kannada document will be the ultimate reference point. This can become quite tricky, particularly when you are dealing with technical issues in this vastly globalised world. This remains so inspite of English being an official language of the state. A distinction has been made by terming Kannada as the administrative language. And, progressively, all communication is happening only in Kannada; likewise information on web-sites too. Further, it is "Kuvempu" level of Kannada (a level higher than even Rajnath Singh-ji's Sanskritised Hindi); so, a passing knowledge will not take you far - not even with the bus conductor, or auto driver, who have begun to up their chauvinistic outlook, buoyed by the government's own outlook.
Besides, asking for a translation does not necessarily mean that you'll get it. If you persist with it, you'll be told it's a "sensitive matter"; but, if you "co-operate" (meaning - don't talk about it), we can "try and help you".
So, don't be fooled by the government inviting Mary Kom to settle down in Bengaluru (When last heard, she had apparently given up the crash course in Shudh Kannada, she was pursuing with a Shastrigalu in Shivmogga, and decided to continue in Manipur and set up a boxing academy there). Moodalu, Mary Kom amma atra Shastri-avara pathae kaelkolli.
Then, of course, we have our waste management problem, stinking storm-water drains problem - you name it, it's all there.
But, of course, we have the God given (not sure, why he has not withdrawn it yet) air-conditioned climate for most part of the year. But, if you want to get the benefit of it, say after 6.30PM, you'll first have to figure out how to keep the mosquito's at bay. The swanky clubs, of which there are a fair number in the cities, and where you can possibly get a Corporate membership, manage it all fairly well. So, if you choose to go there to drown your woes, over a peg or two, make sure you or your associates have not rubbed the officialdom (even if over totally unconnected issues) the wrong way, failing which they will find ways to make life difficult for you, apart from denying you your peg.
Inspite of all of these, there are the Narayana Murthy's, Azim Premji's, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw's, and lately the Bansal's (of Flipkart fame) not just surviving, but thriving too. So, don't be deterred, dear friends - the Indian entrepreneur is intrepid enough to more than "solpa adjust maadi" in all of these situations.