Wednesday, February 4, 2009


After the great admiration and eulogies showered on Gujarat by the captains of big industries because of the rapid strides made by that state in bringing and nurturing investors from inside and out side the country, lot was expected from Karnataka where same political outfit is at the helm of affairs. The breath taking speed with which Tata Motors shifted their Nano Car project from West Bengal to Gujarat is an abject lesson as to how industry loves to be wooed for loosening their purse strings. On top of it the Indian industry even expressed their views that the head of Gujarat government is a role model for becoming Prime Minister of the country! True, Bangalore is often claimed as the Silicon Valley of India though in terms of living index it can be any thing but a livable place for people due to many adverse factors.

It is the usual practice for politicians to lead large teams to foreign countries with the obvious intention of wooing NRI entrepreneurs for investment in their states. Karnataka is no exception to this 'investment tourism' jaunts. The State boasts of an 'infrastructure development corporation' supposed to be 'helping' new entrepreneurs to locate their production facilities in designated industrial areas. There is also the 'Single Window' magic which is supposed to cut through the red tapes and hassles of bureaucratic corruption. While these are all excellent claims on paper to lure the entrepreneurs, here is a typical example of the travails of a young techno savvy investor who heeded to the call of his state and ventured to set up a high tech manufacturing facility in the heritage city of Mysore. His only drawback was his honest character which was a hindrance at every level.

This entrepreneur, leading a brand of young and enthusiastic band of technically experienced professionals, left highly lucrative positions in internationally reputed giants like General Electric Company, drawing fabulous salaries and ventured to start their industry to manufacture HF X-Ray instruments based on a unique technology, available only in 2-3 countries of the First World. Their products developed with the aim of providing diagnostic tools to rural areas at a fraction of the cost of those being imported, should have been in the market in early 2008, if their project was 'allowed' to come into being without political interference and bureaucratic indifference. After allotting only less than 50% of the land they had asked for during July 2007, they were asked to move out to another site and then again to another site in the course of less than an year jeopardizing all their plans and targets. Absorbing all the humiliations suffered by them at the hands of local saboteurs, they initiated building construction twice to be frustrated by local goons under one pretext or the other. The enormous financial strain faced by the group, with huge demand for their products in their order book and no means of starting regular production, would have turned away any ordinary mortal by now. But these youngsters, capable of drawing salaries between Rs 6 lakh to Rs 36 lakh annually with any good company but drawing no salary from their fledgling project voluntarily, with the hope of riding out the set backs caused by an indifferent bureaucracy, are committed to go forward to achieve their cherished goals in the larger interest of the state and the country.

Last week some senior citizens, scientists, industrialists and a few concerned citizens in the city made a fervent appeal to the District Administration to break this griddle lock and provide them with an environment conducive to allow setting up and commissioning the facilities which will bring laurels to the state and the country. Only time will tell whether our rulers really mean what they promise and the credibility of the state as an investment destination is sure to take a beating if such instances are allowed to occur frequently. While the patriotic entrepreneur with his unlimited enthusiasm, patience and perseverance may still be able to go ahead with his project, is there no way to bring to books all those goons who were instrumental in causing agony, anguish and economic losses to the entrepreneur and irreparable damage to the image of the State? The short answer is to round up these miscreants, brand them as economic offenders, perpetrators of violence and extortionists and punish all of them severely, irrespective of their political affiliations.


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