Karnataka: The Unprecedented Descent

India Map Highlighting Southern State of Karnataka

What happened to Karnataka?

I have ties that go way back in Bangalore and Karnataka.  Way back, when visitors would delight in the beauty of this Southern capital city, its perfect moderate climate, expansive greens and gardens, the well laid out infrastructure and the peace and quiet.

So.  What happened?

Aerial View of Bangalore

Bangalore is being described as a dystopia. That means exactly what it sounds like, an “anti-utopia” or as far removed from utopia as you can get.  And the state of Karnataka is characterized as one of, if not, the most corrupt state in the nation. Unbelievable! How could it go from that extreme to this one?  What happened to being the rising star of India? The Silicon Valley, home of Infosys and a whole range of multi-national technology brands?

Typical Rush Hour in Today's Overcrowded Bangalore City

Explosion and Corruption

It exploded. It went out of control. And it became utterly corrupt. So sad to see!  And so sad for the people who live there to have to live through this devolution. Yes, like dystopia, this is the opposite of evolution.  One meaning of this word is “descent or degeneration to a lower or worse state”. What an appropriate meaning yet sad state of affairs for Karnataka.

How could a city and state that showed such promise and potential descend into these depths? That is the shame of the state, and if this happened to a one-time rising star of the country, the shame is shared by the entire nation. We want and need to see transformations that go in the opposite direction! [See why Bihar is worth celebrating in this respect. Yes, I said Bihar.]

1868 photograph of Bellary Fort

As I read the newspapers sitting here in Mumbai, the headlines this week are all about Karnataka and the current chief minister, commonly referred to as Yeddy. He has been asked to step down and leave by the party for illegal activities and corruption. So by the time this post is published, he should have departed.  But not until after robbing the state bare – it’s treasury and the environment.

Bellary is the location in the state which has been ravaged for it’s iron ore in the mining scandal, leaving the earth and environment massively damaged. Indicted in the special report are the Reddy brothers who I first read about in the NY Times, of all places. Three brothers who have helped loot the state and the environment, not to mention becoming political power brokers (and giving all Reddys a bad name, to boot!) with two of the three continuing on as Ministers of the state!

And then, here’s the ‘funny’ part, there’s no shame or remorse exhibited by the people who have committed these transgressions. The independent investigation that was conducted alleges that $4 billion was looted from the state over a few years. None of the politicians are denying it.  Instead they are pointing to the previous government and saying, “they did it, why shouldn’t we?”.  Sick.

What is Politics After All?

Politics is simply a business in India today. Except it’s even better than successful private industry. It is a business where you can thrive and prosper in power, and where your return on investment is sky high. And one where the moral guide of the typical Indian politician is at an all time low.  I hate to contemplate that it can perhaps sink to even lower depths.

And that’s the sad other side of the story of India Rising.

And Now for The Light At The End of The Tunnel  

As we look at this situation in dismay, thankfully it’s not all darkness. The fact that there was an independent and thorough investigation conducted – against all odds – by Santhosh Hegde, heading up Karnataka’s Lokayukta, an anti-corruption ombudsman in the states. The fact that such a body even exists!  These are things to cheer about. The fact that his report actually brought down the Chief Minister is indeed a victory for all citizens of India.

If Karnataka, no if India, is to turn itself around, then this kind of close oversight (with the right leadership!) is indeed what is critically needed for the country to really shine and move forward (Lokpal anyone?).

Across the nation, from the capital down to the states and cities and smaller government bodies, corruption needs to be viewed by citizens as simply unacceptable.  I know.; we have a long way to go. Imagine if politicians served the citizens as they were elected to do, and we elected only those whose mission was to serve. It’s easier said than done. And it will undoubtedly be a slow, lengthy and complicated process spanning many years, but hasn’t everyone had enough already of the alternative? When is enough really enough?

Until that time, India Rising and India Shining are but hollow fairy tales we can keep telling ourselves and others. They may fool us all for awhile, but alas, not for very long.


India Map with Karnataka: CC-by-sa PlaneMad/Wikipedia

Aerial view Photo By Amol.Gaitonde 

Rush Hour Photo By Bhonsley

Tunnel: By Stephen Sweeney 


Posted on July 30, 2011, in bangalore, expat, india, karnataka and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Ameetha Chari

    You are very right…….Karnataka is the worst state and has been since the 1980’s when Gundu Rao took over the reign. Every CM after that has been bringing down the state. Maybe S.M. Krishna might have been only the ‘worthy one’…..but many may disagree with me. Sad!! I want to go back to my Bangalore to retire 😦

    • Ameetha,

      A word of advice…try to defer your retirement for another 10 years or so. Then, hope and pray that the state gets the right kind of leadership to set some of these wrongs to rights. I’m a bit of a cynic right now so I won’t tell you what I think the chances of that happening are. 😦


    • Can’t wait…………10 years is far toooooooo long……I have given myself four years…….whether it is good or bad……..here I come 🙂

  2. Shanthini Dawson

    The descent into the chaos that is Karnataka started a while ago – there has been no government worth writing about his Devaraj Urs, sadly. The politics of caste that has been played out since after Ramakrishna Hegde has brought us to the edge. The prevalent moral corruption is as great a concern as the treasure looted by the so called elected ‘leaders’. When you see the progress that has been made by our neighbours in the last couple decades – in spite of all the charges of corruption – it is sad to see Karnataka lagging so far behind after leading the way for so long.

    But the scariest of all is the fact that the leaders of the BJP are unable to get a grip on the situation – this has been going on for so long. Yeddy should have been dismissed at least a year ago after having very liberally dished out land to all his sons & co.

    India shining it is not, and certainly its not rising in this State.

    • What a tragedy and waste it is, isn’t it? And the citizens suffer as a result. It is especially tragic when you see a state regress like this, when there was absolutely no reason to…

      I remember how proud we were to live in Bangalore so many years ago. May those days come again some day!

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