The Karnataka government led by CM Siddaramaiah announced the state budget in February this year. The budget that was presented is inclusive and transcends caste, religion, and region while focussing on the well-being of the common man. While Gujarat ceaselessly markets itself as a model state, the Karnataka model ought to be studied in detail to understand what development means in its truest sense.
Karnataka has always taken concrete steps that have benefitted various target groups in quantifiable ways. Let us look at a few of the most pressing problems that the country is facing and how the Karnataka government has devised key interventions and policies to address them.
The Karnataka government has stood with farmers and mitigated their risks through various programmes such as loan waivers, interest-free loans, and support price. The state has also promoted techniques like farm mechanisation, rain-water harvesting, and dairy farming through incentive-based programmes. Karnataka now holds the record of building Asia’s largest drip irrigation project spread over 24000 hectares benefiting over 100 villages and the world’s largest solar park projected to benefit over 2300 farmers. This solar project is a benchmark for other states that wish to implement a similar people’s participation model in the field of energy.
Karnataka has continually prioritized the generation of employment opportunities in the state through innovative methods. These efforts have led to tangible outcomes with Karnataka attracting investments amounting to Rs. 1.5 lakh crores per annum. In comparison, Gujarat stands at Rs. 40,000 crores which is proof of Karnataka’s willingness and conviction to solve the job crisis. Through its novel startup policy, Bengaluru has become the startup capital to supplement the aspirations of the youth in Karnataka. Even at a local level, the state has created jobs in sectors such as agriculture, cottage industries, dairy, etc. by bringing in technology and connecting the beneficiaries through various online tools.
Marginalised communities have been at the forefront of the state’s agenda. The policies of the Karnataka government are reflective of this sentiment. Siddaramaiah’s government has always remained proactive in ensuring that the lives of minorities are secure and are brought to the mainstream. Be it in issuing foreign scholarships, supporting divorced or widowed women, or addressing the concerns of gender minorities, the state has set up various financial assistance schemes and progressive policies for their support.
While the country is yet to pass the Women’s Reservation Bill, Karnataka has left no stone unturned in safeguarding the rights of women and providing a secure environment for their future. India’s only IT park dedicated for women has been launched by the state to encourage women entrepreneurs, increase investment opportunities, and generate 2800 jobs exclusively for women. In addition to existing policies, the CM announced free education for women pursuing PU, degree, and postgraduate courses in the state. This is set to benefit 4 lakh female students by serving as an enabler with an aim to increase enrollment ratios in higher education.
The Centre continues to ignore the agrarian crisis, vast unemployment, and widening inequality that have plagued the country. Instead, the Modi government is busy employing its resources to indulge in divisive politics. Karnataka, on the other hand, is concentrating on improving the lives of its people through its transparent and inclusive governance. The unique yet simple policies that Karnataka rolls out have helped make a positive impact on the targeted beneficiaries. The Karnataka model is, thus, a model for democracy itself and must be replicated at the national level.