Q&A with Krishna Byregowda

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Krishna Byre Gowda, INC, Bangalore South. Masters in International Relations, 5 years of experience in sericulture, development and the voluntary sector. A three time MLA (sitting MLA for Byatarayanpura), has participated in agitations against recent attacks on Churches and saffronization of education. Age: 35 years; Assets: Rs. 1.3 Crores; Criminal Record: None.

Q. What are the top priorities of your constituency?

See, Bangalore South cannot really be separated from the rest of Bangalore.  So priorities, if you are to set any priorities, I think we have to look at it holistically, Bangalore as a whole. So if you look at Bangalore as a whole, problems I see are infrastructural woes that Bangalore is suffering, be it roads, traffic, public transportation and water and energy requirements. All put together, I think in terms of infrastructure we have a long way to go and that should definitely be my priority.

Q. How do you plan to address these priorities?

What we have to do is really push for more projects that will help us ease these infrastructural constraints.  We got to push. For example, this is just an example, not the only thing, for metro project, to really keep going, it is not as fast as people wanted to be. Everybody feels it is very slow progress. So we have to push for projects like metro, to push very hard.  Number 2, you know that you could take up issues like power generation in Parliament and try to get more projects for Karnataka so that the crippling power cuts can be done away with. So these are infrastructure related. But of course, there are other issues. Environment is a serious issue in Bangalore. I think, ultimately like Delhi we have to push for mandatory CNG in Bangalore so that at least all public transportation vehicles use CNG and we have to set up the infrastructure for that. Otherwise the pollution levels are very alarming. That is another priority I would put it as that and  number 3, we have to also make Bangalore, you know, lovable, livable and globally vibrant Bangalore that also respects its local heritage.

Q. From your perspective, which are the most important issues facing the nation that you intend to raise in Parliament?

Today the biggest issue that is bothering all of us is the recession, economic recession. And even though India has done much better in dealing with global economic crisis than many other countries. We are perhaps the best country that has withstood this global recession, but still we are also impacted by recession and that is affecting employment, that is affecting manufacturing, that is affecting service industries, I think we have to collectively see what we can do to increase the growth rate and get the country back on the growth agenda that is one priority. Number 2 priority would be of course security issues, be it local law and order problems or national security issues that is something that I would want to voice and speak on behalf of people.

Q. What is the most important contribution you have made to public life?

Well, I am serving my third term as a member of the legislative assembly in Karnataka and I have done so with satisfaction. I can proudly say, I have done my best as a state legislator in the last six years and through that I have kept myself clean and proven that you can stay clean in politics. I think that brings me immense happiness.

Q. Could you share with us your most significant failure to date? What have you learned from that experience?

Couple of, I am sure, we have all have ours. You know, failures. Last few years, I have been working on water issues and we have, you know. I come from Kolar district originally and Kolar district is suffering severe water issues, it is not just Kolar, it is be Tumkur, Bangalore rural, these dry districts. So I have been trying to see what we can do as a legislators. But unfortunately we have not been able to find a long-term solution and I think that is one thing that hurts me that despite even though we have tried. But we still do not have a solution.

Q. How will you be continuously available and assessable to the residents of your constituency?

Well, I as a legislator, I meet with people every day. So, every morning, I meet people and I attend to their grievances. My doors are open, my office is open at 8 o’clock in the morning to meet with people. So, except the time that we are perhaps in Delhi attending to the Parliament, I should be available to people every day. So, I have extensive public contact programs, I toured my constituency extensively. But, being an MLA is different from being a member of parliament, because as an MLA, you deal with day to day issues of people much more. So, if people have a problem, they normally go to their MLA, not that many people go to their MP. But still, there will be issues that I can help with and I am sure I mean, I have always been accessible to people through my office. So I should continue to be accessible.

Q. Corruption and terrorism are major concerns, as an MP, who do you think you can do? And what, specifically do you plan to do?

First one is corruption. Corruption is not an issue that can be solved by any one individual. Corruption is a systemic epidemic. It is spread like cancer all over our system and it is also not something each individual can fix. But we have to see how our systems and processes can be improved or streamlined, which reduces the in-center and the mechanisms of corruption.  So I look at any problem from the systemic perspective because I am here today, I may not be here tomorrow. So, the solution to the problem should not be me, it should the system which has to change. So, I think we have to bring a lot of changes in our systems, proceduralized, rationalized decision making and put systems in place that will reduce incidents of corruption. So that is the way I look at the issue of corruption.  As far as terrorism is concerned, see, most of us are, when we talk about dealing with terrorism, we are talking about dealing with the post occurrence of terrorism, you know, terrorism is already going on and you try to control it. So this controlling thing may not really work in the long term. So, you have to go to the root of it, what is the root of it, the intolerance that is leading to extreme behavior, fundamentalist behavior on all religions. Today there is no exception to fundamentalism. All religions are prone to religious fundamentalism and that is the cause of terrorism as we see it. So the only way is to really bring about tolerance in our society, respect for each other, respect for each other’s beliefs and despite our varying identities. We have to learn to live together as Indians. So, that is the tolerance, somewhere we have to promote the tolerance. If you notice, before 92, before Babri Masjid was demolished, before that there were not that many incidents of terrorism. So it is all post ’92, so somewhere this act of intolerance causes more and more incidents of terrorism. So the solution is to promote tolerance to live as brothers and sisters, as Indians.

Q. How will you ensure that money meant for development projects are not misused?

What I do is that, I do extensive inspections of public works in my constituency. That is what I have done, so that immediately the fact that you actually go to the work site to randomly to look at works, immediately improves the delivery mechanism, because there is somebody who is going to do the checking. So I think we have to institutionalize that and perhaps that is one solution we can work out wherein we inspect public works and bring about bit more accountability in the system, so accountability is the only solution, accountability not just from me as a representative, I think we need to have more citizens groups also getting involved that will promote accountability.

Q. What would you do for the current unemployment issues for the youth of the country and what is you stand on the issue of moral policing?

Unemployment is a big issue today and I think especially know, just not in the city areas, in city areas, we have a lot of service industries that provider employment. But if you go the rural areas, there is a lot of unskilled or semi-scale labor, which is not finding productive work, so there is just idling.  So I think we have to promote manufacturing-oriented job creation extensively in our country. The current government, the central government, precisely for this reason to develop skill in rural areas they have come up with a skill development program and I think that needs to be promoted aggressively.  We are giving them education, but we are not giving them any skill. I think we have to do the skill development and push manufacturing and service industry jobs into semi-urban areas or tier two cities, tier three cities and also that will help us decongest these tier one cites, so massive employment creation as far as that and the second one is moral policing. This goes back to my earlier point of intolerance, that is, we are seeing in Karnataka recently intolerance of diversity, intolerance of freedom, intolerance of liberty, these incidents are becoming all too alarmingly large and the solution is to learn to live with each other and we have to promote tolerance and learn to respect each other’s right to beliefs and freedom.

Q. What is your message to the people of your constituency?

I am a young guy with experience, having currently serving my constituency as third term legislator. I have the experience, I am young and I want to give my country the best I can, so give me a chance.

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