“Those who care should stop whispering,” says theatre person Prakash Belawadi
Borrowing from a vachana of 25th Century poet and social reformer Basavanna, a popular Kannada movie of the 1960s has this message: “Kaayakave kailaasa keliranna, dudde doddappanendu tiliyaranna,” ( Work is the way to heaven, brothers; and money is the big brother). When it comes to money and work, Karnataka must turn to Bangalore, which contributes to two thirds to the state’s treasury and, practically, nine of ten jobs in the new economy. But neither labour nor earning is part of the creed of Karnataka’s politicians.
For a whole generation now, ever since the country opened up to the global economy in 1991, entrepreneurs in the state have worked hard to generate jobs and create wealth in Bangalore. They have hunted down talent from everywhere in India and transformed this balmy and modest small town into one of the emerging big cities of the world, promising innovation as an product of a post- colonial metropolis. But the carpet baggers, who come here elected from everywhere in the state, simply camp for profit, brokering deals in trade and commerce and waffling on and on about farmers, backwards, dalits and minorities.
So, what do they have to show? Bangalore is the only city in Karnataka with a population of more than one million people. Many of the constituencies they would protect are now rendered to be among the most backward in the country. Young men are leaving agricultural fields in their dull and destroyed villages and moving to Bangalore to work as cab drivers and security guards. Young women are boldly refusing to marry boys who wish to stay back in the villages.
The carpetbaggers, however, have become so rich that they can rival, if not surpass, the wealth and incomes of the IT czars and land developers of Bangalore. How do these useless politicians of sloth, slush and cunning continue to win from the very rural constituencies they have maintained in such incredible poverty and slime? The answer, partly, is envy. They blame it all on Bangalore. Indeed, the undoing of Bangalore is virtually the triumph of the rural over the urban. Successive regimes have talked about passing a new law for urban governance in the state Assembly.
But, given the economic and social setting of the rest of the state, an independent administration in the city will mean that the Mayor of Bangalore will become more powerful than the chief minister of Karnataka. So, every CM keeps the crucial portfolio of Bangalore city for himself, making sure that nothing moves in it without his take on it.
Even this new Siddaramaiah government already looks jaded. Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has expended all his reserves of energies in an orgy of economic doles and vocal self- pity over his being cheated of the big post in the past by former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda. He is now likely to shift into business- as- usual gear and Bangalore can head back to limbo. Should we look for options to make Bangalore a Union Territory? Those who care should stop whispering. If they don't love, let them leave us.