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Want Karnataka To Contribute $1.25 Trn Towards Indian Economy: Karnataka CM Bommai

On the back of this incredible success story, the Chief Minister of Karnataka Basavaraj Bommai spoke to BW Businessworld’s Chairman and Editor-in-Chief Dr Annurag Batra about his vision for Karnataka and more.

Photo Credit : Ritesh Sharma

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Bengaluru has recently emerged as the strongest startup ecosystem in India, increasing by two spots this year and solidifying its position in the global top 10 cities.

At the recent Davos Summit, the state government signed INR 60K Cr worth MoUs spanning sectors like IT, renewable energy and manufacturing.

On the back of this incredible success story, the Chief Minister of Karnataka Basavaraj Bommai spoke to BW Businessworld’s Chairman and Editor-in-Chief Dr Annurag Batra about his vision for Karnataka and more.

You were in Davos recently, tell us about the highlights of your discussions and deliberations with the business community and leaders?

I had detailed interactions with 25 leaders from global companies, across different fields, right from data centres , to renewable energy to semiconductors, aerospace, and so on and so forth.

The entire world is looking towards India as a resurgent economy in the post covid era, because the West has locked itself, and China is also under lockdown. And more so towards Karnataka, because of its strong technological base and all the new technologies and the new startups, artificial intelligence, semiconductors, renewable energy, hydrogen energy, ammonia manufacturing etc, that the state is known for.

If you see, a lot of new concepts which are in the world now have been already envisaged in Karnataka, and especially in Bengaluru. We have also signed around 60K Cr worth of MoUs. 

The other reassuring thing was that more than ten companies ,which are already there in Karnataka, have committed that all the expansions that they are planning will be done in Karnataka alone.  That shows the confidence of all these investors. All these companies have a very good experience of operating in the state of Karnataka. Also the way our honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi has dealt with covid, has given confidence to businesses within India and abroad.

What is your vision for Karnataka?

With our strength in technology and the ecosystem that we have built over the years, we follow the approach of –less governance and more impact and performance. 

I have been travelling the length and breadth of Karnataka,  I know  the strength of Karnataka.  I know the natural resources of the state and the human resources of Karnataka. I believe everyone who is born in Karnataka or lived here is blessed. 

I feel blessed to have become the Chief Minister of such a progressive state.  Having said that,  my responsibility is to see that the very fine legacy that I have inherited should be continued without any tinkering. And it has to be enhanced and it has to be more business-friendly.

I also believe that new innovations should also have a prominent place, that is precisely the reason why there are maximum startups in Karnataka.  This legacy will continue,  and we have got a new policy for semiconductors. Now we are building semiconductor parks,  we have a defence park too which the Defence Minister will inaugurate.

Out of the 500 top companies,  400 are in Karnataka.  I think that speaks a lot. And 400 globally recognised R&D centres are already in Karnataka.  No other city in the world, other than Bengaluru can boast of this feat. 

As I said, I will continue this legacy as there should be a place for innovation, a place for consolidation and most importantly a place for growth.  Our honourable Prime Minister has a vision of making India a five trillion dollar economy, I want Karnataka to contribute one fourth of this vision, which is 1.25 trillion dollars towards the Indian economy.

What are the things needed to develop Bengaluru to the next level in terms of infrastructure as it has not kept pace with the fast growing business in the state?

The state is witnessing phenomenal growth. Now the only way Bengaluru can grow in a planned way is to decongest it.

Recently our Prime Minister sanctioned the suburban rail project which will cost Rs 15K Cr and will connect all the peripheral towns.

He also laid the stone for satellite town which is going to connect the Mumbai highway with the Chennai highway. It will also connect six satellite towns. We have industrial townships coming up which will be self-sufficient.  As I said, we want to deal with the infrastructure problem,  but the issue is that everyone wants to live in the middle of the city. 

Lot of new developments are taking place on the infrastructure front.  The government of Japan has got a township, the government of Singapore has got an ITPL, like that, a lot of other foreign countries have got the townships done in Bengaluru and nowhere else in India.

There are a lot of newer models and a lot of new investments coming up.  In my budget, I have declared that five new industrial towns will be coming up beyond Bengaluru soon.

Karnataka has a strong and exemplary higher education sector. What are your plans for that sector?

We have the highest number of Engineering Colleges and Technical Schools. We have got a very good number of Management Institutes, we have the National Law School,  IIT and Institute of Science and even IIM. 

Now we want to upgrade all these institutions. I have seen students working hard to enter IIT’s.  Some of them qualify, while most of them are not able to get admission. Now we have decided to create our own IIT’s. We have started the Karnataka Institute of Technology and we are upgrading seven of our engineering colleges to the level of IIT’s.  With this approach, over the next five years, we will have seven IIT’s in Karnataka. 

Recently our Prime Minister laid the foundation for an 850-bed research hospital and inaugurated the Human Brain Research Centre there. So, a lot of new and innovative things are happening in the state of Karnataka, both in the government and private sectors.

Soon there will be elections in Karnataka. Clearly you have a big vision for the state,  as you set your sights on the upcoming elections, what would you like to tell your electorate ?

Our honourable Prime Minister has laid a strong foundation.  He speaks of participative democracy, and I firmly believe in it.

For me the economy is not just money.  Economy is the strength of the people . Those who are the movers and shakers of this economy are at the bottom of the pyramid. 

So, we have to recognise it, and value it, and see that their hard work pays. As far as per capita income is concerned, data says only 30 percent of people are contributing.  I want 60-70 percent of my population to contribute in per capita income. For that to happen, I have got a lot of new schemes done in my budget. 

For women we have got a special scheme. Right from financing them to giving them projects, getting them to build quality products to marketing them, we have introduced end-to-end solutions. We plan to create a large number of jobs. To begin with, we are planning to create five lakh jobs, and IT alone is providing three lakh jobs every year. 

That apart, I'm introducing an employment policy where those who give more jobs will get more incentives.  I want our agriculture to grow at a minimum rate of 5 to 7 percent every year.  Because one percent growth in agriculture will trigger four percent in manufacturing and ten percent in service. 

I’m also concentrating on education and health. These are basic human development activities, and a strong human resource will lead to a strong state. I have got a big vision for Karnataka and I will walk the talk. Karnataka should lead  and real development is not growth in terms of finances, but it's the real growth in the strength of talent depository. 

There is a question often asked whether a state should be rich or its people should be rich. If you see, in the last 40 to 50 years, we have seen people working hard to make the state rich, but I want my people to be rich; rich in education, rich in culture, rich in health, and that alone can lead to a rich state.

This is my vision and the people of my state are accepting it and within a few months you will see the real impact of this vision.

Who are the people you look up to for inspiration?

In my earlier days, two people influenced me the most–Subhash Chandra Bose and Lal Bahadur Shastri. 

On the spiritual front, it is Swami Vivekananda who has influenced me a lot.  In recent times, if there is anyone who has influenced me the most, it is our honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi.


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