Friday, September 16, 2005

Don't let the govt off the hook

I was expecting this to happen, but I was hoping against hope that the IT firms will stick to their threat, and boycott the city's annual showcase expo But it looks like the IT firms and government have struck a deal. Who gave in to whom is debatable.

But the script has run exactly the way it did last year. IT firms announce the boycott plan, hit the headlines, rattle the government, the government announces a slew of plans to improve the city, IT firms are mighty impressed, they call off the boycott, nothing happens, the plans lie just like that, and the city deteriorates further.

Here is where I begin to lose trust in the people who actually lead the city. They are not the democratically elected leaders. (I never trusted them anyway.) But the captains of industry. Undoubtedly, they have made the lives of thousands of Bangaloreans much better than what it has been. Not just the techies, but everyone related to real estate to hospitality to transport to every other service sector, has benefited.

The IT firms have a larger responsibility which they can't ignore. Almost every one of them is here, one, because of the good climate (sounds funny but it's true). Two, Bangalore has a large pool of technical resources. Three, the companies find government policy suited to their business.

At the end of the day, these IT firms have been making good profits. How many of them have made losses, blamed the infrastructure and left Bangalore? The MNCs, which have shifted from abroad to Bangalore and saved themselves from extinction, must be the ones to feel most obliged to Bangalore and its citizens.

The modern professionals, whose famed soft skills are as good as their hard skills, should be the last ones to give up on the politicians of Bangalore. Luckily or unluckily, in a democracy it's finally the politician who calls the shots. Sadly corporators, the mayor and legislators (who wield actual power) are the least qualified to lead this city. This is where the manager gurus and entrepreneurs need to think of out-of-box solutions, not just to improve the city, but first to the shake the politician out of his slumber and drive some good sense into him.

Biocon CMD chief Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw said a few days back that the way we elect our mayor is a joke and suggested that we should have someone like Narayan Murthy as mayor. This is at best a dream. What she and he can definitely do is to work like a mayor for the city and shame the mayor into action.

Now that it is almost certain that will go ahead with all the glitter, there is one thing IT czars can do and should do.

Don't let the government off the hook. Let all the promises be not forgotten. The government doesn't have in it to assess itself and make necessary course correction to achieve the intended objective. The famed IT firms will have to do it: offer the idea-starved, leadership-lacking government agencies the expertise.

The two have sat down and drawn up many short-term, medium-term and long-term objectives for improving the city. Left to the government, they will just be forgotten. Bob Hoekstras, R K Mishras, Som Mittals etc should covertly or overtly prod the government into acting on these proposals, reminding the government on the deadlines, so that the desired results are achieved. When the city begins to breathe more comfortably, the politicians will realise that the IT czars were not wrong after all.


  1. Verbal promises must be followed up. To show how serious they are, promises must come with deadlines and action plans if the deadlines are missed. We seem to concede very easily.