Techies unwanted in the tech-capital: Bangalore Mirror

This post was written by admin on June 9, 2008
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[This feature by 'Sudipa Chakraborty' was published in Bangalore Mirror on Sunday, June 1, 2008.]

Techies unwanted in the tech-capital
Sudipa Chakraborty

It is rejuvenation time for the political scenario in the IT-capital of India. While the mood is ripe for celebration in the BJP camp, there is one section of Bangaloreans who are just too unhappy. No, certainly, it is not the Congress or the JD (S). Nor is it any political party. They are what the IT capital identifies most with: techies. Even when there is large scale indifference among the techies for the political dynamics of the society, this time round, three software engineers had taken up the challenge to contest elections for the first time in Karnataka. But, to their rude shock, they were all rejected by Bangaloreans. After their defeat they feel betrayed by the brethren of their own IT industry.

Leaving the comfort of air-conditioned room, Ravi Krishna Reddy, a software engineer, who has been in the United States for the past six years, came back to his hometown in Karnataka to contest elections from the Jayanagar constituency. It was ‘A software engineer’s fight against immoral, illegal and unethical politics’, as the pamphlet of this Independent candidate said. Even though he had sent out his appeal to the ‘brothers and sisters of the IT industry’ in his blogs and campaigns, he was completely taken by surprise when the results were declared. A total of just around 300 votes? So, does he feel betrayed by his own industry?

“These are happy times for the IT industry in India and so they do not care for much of the society. It is obvious. If the situation was different, like if there were any layoffs, recession, financial losses, etc, the IT industry would have supported not one but many candidates in Bangalore. I knew this all along. But I did not know that in general IT industry is this much indifferent and arrogant,” said Ravi Krishna Reddy, who has gone back to the US after the elections. For him, it is the lack of awareness of the techies that has led to this situation. “I think this mentality is basically from the lack of good civics education in our system. No engineer learns anything related to society and the system once he passes his 10th grade/SSLC. So, we have very few people in that industry who think beyond their career or family. In an immature society, only bad financial times produce some kind of movements. That should change and people should stand up for values even when they are rich and comfortable,” he said.

33-year-old Anuj Kumar Mishra hails from Bihar. But, Bangalore has been his home for the past eight years now. Contesting from the Jayanagar constituency, this candidate from Lokparitran party garnered 474 votes. But, when it comes to talk about the IT industry, he said, “They just dont want to come out of their comfort zone. Of course, they are indifferent towards the political dynamics of the society. As a whole, they need to be aware of the need to address certain issues of the society. At least they should be willing to understand the importance of a vote. Only if they could show interest in casting their vote, results may have been different this time, ” Anuj said. But, he has not lost his hope, “I have already started preparing for next year’s parliamentary elections in Bihar. I will not give up, ” he added.

Prabhakar Honali made a conscious decision to contest from the BTM Layout constituency. Reason? “Large IT population, ” pat came the reply from the 35-year-old techie. “I was hopeful that I will be able to get a lot of support from the large IT population in BTM Layout. But, a long weekend and the resignation to the fact that nothing can be changed is the basic reason for their apathy, ” he said. The only solution to make people cast their votes, according to Prabhakar, is to “make voting mandatory. Only then, the urban educated will be prompted to exercise their franchise ” But, this election has been out and out a lesson for Prabhakar. “I need to be more visible in the public domain, need support from the media and a little more experince and money,” he said. But, he is willing to give up, as yet. “This, election, however, is a beginning for me and not the end, ” he added.

Why did Ravi Reddy return to the US after his defeat?

“I still have to have a day job to support myself and my family financially in India. Some of my previous financial investments in Kannada Journalism have virtually made me poor and so I really have to have a job to put food on the table. But, I will be moving to India soon and I hope to work full time for the causes once I take care of some of the basic financial dependencies of my family.”

(Courtesy: Bangalore Mirror – June 1, 2008.)

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