Home >News >India >Covid-19 crisis rekindles debate on decentralization of Karnataka

BENGALURU : The covid-19 crisis has rekindled a debate on decentralizing Karnataka, whose excessive focus on Bengaluru may have exacerbated problems for the state, as it battles the novel coronavirus disease, analysts and political leaders said.

The B.S.Yediyurappa-led government, which wants to open up businesses, is left with difficult options—either risk the spread of the disease or further plunge the state into economic uncertainty.

Karnataka has 283 active covid-19 cases of the total 445 recorded in the state so far.

Regional imbalances in Karnataka have only grown over the years, irrespective of the party in power, which has forced successive governments to devote more resources for healthcare and infrastructure in India’s technology capital, while leaving other parts of the state largely underdeveloped.

The push to attract investments in other parts of Karnataka has not materialized so far. More so, because companies want to be close to Bengaluru as underdeveloped areas lack proper infrastructure.

“I don’t see us having a sister city for Bengaluru for the next decade or so," Priyank Kharge, former IT/BT minister and Congress legislator from Chittapur in Kalaburagi said.

Though some urban centres like Mangaluru and Mysuru are being developed as alternatives, and some industries have opened outside Bengaluru, Kharge said there was an “aspirational value’’ attached to Bengaluru that makes it more attractive to people from other parts of the state.

As India’s biggest software exporter, Bengaluru is one of the top contributors to the coffers of Karnataka and India, attracting people from all over the country seeking employment, health care and education, while leaving occupations like agriculture behind, adding to the growing disparity.

Bengaluru contributes almost 40% to gross state domestic product (GSDP) and gets a lion’s share of budget allocations as well, since the city accounts for about 10 million of the around 65 million population of the state.

“The more you decentralize, the lesser the pressure on the state," Harish Ramaswamy, political analyst and faculty at Karnatak University in Dharwad said. He points that excessive focus on developing Bengaluru would widen the already skewed imbalances like per capita and human development indices.

Bengaluru has a total of nearly 9957 total hospital beds as against 792 in Yadgir district, according to the economic survey.

Bengaluru also has the highest ranking in the state for human development indices that includes education, healthcare and quality of life compared to Kalaburagi division.

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