By S.M. Krishna Chief Minister, Karnataka
An erudite Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna has probably been the most educated chief minister of Karnataka. He graduated from Government Law College, Bangalore, and went to Southern Methodist University at Dallas in the US, and then George Washington University as a Fulbright scholar.
In 1968 he made it to Parliament and was part of the fourth and fifth Lok Sabha. Ever since, he has constantly shuttled between the Centre and the state.
S.M. Krishna was one of the Indian delegates at the UN in 1982 and at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Seminar at Westminster, UK, in 1990.
After taking over as the chief minister of Karnataka in 1999, he formed task forces in agriculture, education, information, health, biotechnology, etc., and the developmental graph of the state witnessed a dramatic rise.
He has promised to make Bangalore, already called India’s Silicon Valley, the best city to live in. So he wants to modernise the city’s infrastructure, ensure efficient provision of public services, and expand its resource base.
A gentle-looking Krishna plays tennis and regularly works out to keep fit. The chief minister spoke to Life Positive about subjects ranging from the cultural heritage of Karnataka to Bangalore as the IT hub to his own vision for the state.
Life Positive: In what way has spirituality helped you in your life and work?
CM: Spirituality has always helped me remain calm, and maintain peace of mind. I am guided by the Gita, which tells us to do our duty with full faith and commitment. I am not disturbed easily, and am not much affected by success or failure.
LP: Does spirituality have any role to play in politics and public life?
CM: Certainly. Spirituality guides politicians and those in public life to be good and do good. If a person is spiritually inclined he can sail through the thick and thin in life without bothering much about success and failures.
LP: How do you relax and stay fit?
CM: Regular workouts and an occasional game of tennis keep me fit. Listening to good music is another way I ease my nerves.
LP: When you are in a deadlock situation, when nothing works, how do you tackle it?
CM: Profound patience and threadbare analysis of a problem certainly helps in solving any enigma. As Nelson Rockefeller said, wherever we look upon this earth, the opportunities take shape within the problems. You have to have an eye to look for solutions, that’s all. This piece of wisdom prompted my government to think of public participation in governance and I am proud to say that the results are showing up. The various task forces formed to look into the problems in core fields like education, health and agriculture have certainly proved to be successful.
LP: What do you think can bring contentment to man?
CM: Contentment—when we are happy with what we have—is as elusive as a mirage. It can be achieved only to a certain extent. We can be ambitious but a failure to fulfil our ambitions need not affect us negatively. George Eliot once said: “What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other.” I am guided by this quote. Sharing others’ sorrows and helping to overcome burdens can make us content.
LP: How would you describe the state of development in Karnataka? Which issues do you think need more attention?
CM: The Government has come out with many innovative measures and launched several novel projects for the overall development of Karnataka. It was tough to provide infrastructure like power, roads and water, and attract investment into the state. The financial position of the state had to be considered while introducing corrective measures.
LP: How well are various religions co-existing in Karnataka?
CM: Kannadigas are a peace-loving people and have shown exemplary levels of tolerance. That is the legacy of Karnataka. Many religions have coexisted and flourished here simultaneously. I never doubt that the people of Karnataka want to stick with their time-tested legacy. The least communal disturbance has been recorded in the state for the last few decades. Here the principle of ‘live and let live’ is extensively practised.
LP: What is so special about the Kannadiga culture? What has been its contribution to the country as a whole?
CM: As I said earlier, the people of Karnataka are peace-loving and tolerant. Athithi Devo Bhavah has been their mantra. The state provides a fertile and healthy ambience for all the major religions of the world.
Philosophers like Madhavacharya, Ramanujacharya and Basaveshwara of this soil have enriched the human souls and shown the light of life to the entire mankind.
Historically speaking, Karnataka formed the southern hem of the Mauryan empire in the third century BC and was the seat of such famous dynasties as Kadambas, Chalukyas, Rashtrakutas, Gangas, Hoysalas and the Vijayanagar kings. Karnataka, in a way, is the cradle of Indian architecture. Here you come across the caves of Badami and the amazing Indian temple building art in the Aihole and Pattadakal complexes. You look up to the serene and monumental images of the unadorned Gomateshwara, whose smile seems to wash the world’s worries away. Karnataka’s contribution to Indian civilisation is indeed immense and invaluable.
LP: There was a lot of talk about Bangalore being the IT capital of the country. Is the industry still growing here or has it reached a plateau?
CM: The IT Industry in Bangalore is number one in the country. Since 2000, one new IT company with 100 per cent foreign equity enters the state every week. Last year, three companies came in every fortnight. Every high-profile visitor to the country makes it a point to put Bangalore on his itinerary.
LP: Your vision for Karnataka?
CM: To build a strong, self-sustained and economically independent state. The Karnataka of my vision is a state second to none and one to be looked up to for emulation by other states.
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