Karnataka needs political maturity, not one-upmanship, by Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw
The continuity of policies is imperative, irrespective of who comes to power
Karnataka’s business-friendly policies for knowledge-based industries such as information technology (IT) and biotechnology have won it the epithets of “IT capital”, “BT capital” and “start-up capital”. The leadership assumed by the state is not an accident. It is the result of a strong collaboration between government, industry and academia as well as deep involvement of a committed bureaucracy. This has happened over successive Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Janata Dal (Secular) or JD(S) and Congress governments.
Today, Karnataka contributes over 12% of India’s exports and it is also the highest software exporting state. At 10%, it is the third-highest contributor to India’s gross domestic product (GDP) and has the fastest growing gross domestic state product (GDSP). Karnataka has successfully created about 1.4 million jobs in the last four years. The per capita income at Rs1.75 lakh in 2017-18, is 56% higher than the all-India average of Rs1.12 lakh.
To prepare Karnataka for future business opportunities, the current government has taken several measures. To create a globally competitive start-up ecosystem, a multi-sector start-up policy was unveiled in 2015. The government has proposed to set up an incubation centre as well as a Karnataka Innovation Authority to promote start-ups. A “legal framework for innovation” has been envisaged to bring new and emerging technologies under a legal framework. The IT, BT and S&T department has been allocated Rs247 crore in the latest state budget.
An electric vehicles and energy storage policy was unveiled in 2017. An ambitious target of generating 6,000 megawatts (MW) of solar power by March 2021 has also been set.
Proactive government policies have ensured Karnataka ranks among the top 10 states in terms of “ease of doing business”. These measures have also made the state the fourth largest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) between 2000 and 2016.
The outcome of the upcoming elections will be crucial as the incoming government will need to ensure that the state does not lose its economic growth momentum. It will need to come good on the promise of making Karnataka the most attractive investment destination and top job creator in the country. Hence, the continuity of policies is imperative, irrespective of who comes to power.
Importantly, Bengaluru has to be returned to its pride of place in the list of India’s best cities. While Bengaluru’s economy grew rapidly, its infrastructure failed to keep pace. Initiatives by citizens to fight for better governance of the city have been successful in getting the government to act. The state budget 2018-19 allocated over Rs4,000 crore to upgrade the city’s infrastructure.
An amount of Rs5,371 crore was allocated for the welfare of women and children, while Rs6,645 crore was earmarked for health and family welfare.
In the aftermath of the elections, it should not be a case of “one step forward, two steps back.” If the incumbent government comes to power it will have to prove that it was not just paying lip service to development. If there is a change in government, the new political dispensation should not give in to the temptation of rolling back policies of the previous government when there is evidence that these are delivering.
We need a more development-oriented political agenda that rises above petty one-upmanship and instead focuses on putting the state on the path to robust, inclusive and equitable growth.
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is president of Bangalore Political Action Committee (B.PAC). She is also the CMD of Biocon Ltd.
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