BHAMY V. SHENOY writes: In Non-Resident Indian circles in the United States, the first word that escapes the lips of NRIs when they start fashionably talking about the factors hindering the rapid development of the motherland is “corruption”.
Even those who have long since lost touch with the ground reality back home start waxing eloquent, outlining grand strategies to “weed out the menace”. They also give examples of how the US is fighting corruption and how it is successful due to “individual” involvement.
But how many of these NRIs reflect upon the role they, as “individuals”, can play in fighting corruption even when they are thousands of miles away from India id est Bharat?
Even as we speak, many NRIs from Karnataka are getting ready to take part in the fifth World Kannada Conference 2008 to be held by the Association of Kannada Kootas in America (AKKA) in Chicago, Illinois, on August 29, 30 and 31.
How many of our Kannada bandhugalu and bhaginiyaru who are packing their bags for the jamboree are even aware that they have a rare opportunity this time to get directly involved in fighting corruption in their home-state?
As our well-informed NRIs must be aware, the decision of several dozen MLAs and officials (not to speak of their families) to participate in the meet has created a major controversy back home. A Public Interest Litigation has also been filed in the High Court.
Cornered, the government has clarified that only the expenses of a few are being picked up by the State; the rest are making do on their own.
Question No. 1 that our NRIs might like to ask: From where and how do so many of our MLAs and officials suddenly find the funds for such an expensive trip? Can they assure us that each rupee is honestly earned and audited?
In 2003, some seniors in the Kannada community had asked AKKA’s heads not to invite politicians as chief guests or honoured guests, and not to be seen as currying favour. This was a welcome initiative. Unfortunately those in power did not pay heed nor have they done so this time.
Question No. 2 that our NRIs might like to ask: If as NRIs we are so concerned of corruption, why do so many politicians of doubtful integrity continue to get invited to AKKA meets?
Of course, not all the invited politicians are corrupt but, as the saying goes, one rotten apple can spoil the box. Surely, there must be a few socially-conscious NRIs who are attending AKKA who can hold a silent demonstration to show their disappointment at the organisers for inviting corrupt politicians?
In fact, the NRIs, who otherwise breathe fire and brimstone against corruption, should get together with more of their ilk and demand that a resolution be passed during the AKKA meeting to stop the practice of inviting political leaders, irrespective of their rank and affiliation, if they are known to be corrupt.
Above all, the AKKA conference this time takes place against the backdrop of the BJP coming to power in Karnataka, and there is understandably a fair bit of excitement among NRIs about this. Nonetheless, this development has not been without its blemishes.
Question No. 3 that our NRIs might like to ask: Have any of the visiting leaders used or okayed the use of money to lure elected MLAs to resign from their constituencies and join the BJP? If so, on what basis do they justify such a subversive, anti-people operation?
These NRIs should ask the visiting leaders how they can justify such an immoral act even if the Congress might have done so during the recent no-confidence motion. And they should ask the visiting leaders how they support corruption in private while delivering lectures against it in public.
Admittedly, there isn’t too much time left. But there are enough days to start an internet campaign among AKKA participants to fight corruption in Karnataka, if not raise awareness about it.
Let us not get cynical and state that no strategy, especially something symbolic like not inviting tainted politicians, will stop corruption. Corruption is not in the DNA of Kannadigas. It is a virus spread by greed of those who join politics for the sole purpose of self-aggrandisement.
No step is small in fighting corruption.
Arise and awake, Kannadiga NRIs, and take up the challenge.
Surely the same questions could have been asked in the previous ones? I like your last few sentences – you point fingers as if the government now started corruption.
Want to start with the son of the oils diatribe against Infosys?
Admittedly, I miss the squeaky clean HDK and DS government. If there was a paradies (pun intended), it was this, marked with potholed roads, stalled signals, tankers having a free run, land scams….
I personally think NRIs of Kannada Origin have done very little to their brethrens in KA than anybody else for his/her south indian state. They have failed miserably in forming a bridge between KA and America–not India and America, i assert.
Role Models, in order to maintain a very pan-indian outlook, have consciously chosen to keep kannada/kannadigas at an arm’s lenght.
Blah, blah with your celebrations and attempts to bring dignitaries from KA to the US and honoring them. Instead start identfiying the best perfomers, popular kannadiga, wunderkids, entrepreneurs etc. Use your time efficiently in bull sessions and brainstorming to see how best you can add value to strenghten the bridge.
All in all understand JD Salinger’s words better: “who needs flowers when you’re dying.”
Too much nitpicking..too much of high moral ground approach..
You have gained automatic admission to the rapidly growing Club of Indians who not only have abysmally low expectations from themselves but are mighty proud of it, and are so disappointed when others do not join them in plumbing the depths.
This government may not have invented corruption, but looking at its conduct and the kind of thigh-slapping applause it gets from the ideologically blinkered, it sure is not going to be the government which even started to end it.
Hopefully, Bhamy Shenoy’s intended targets, NRIs, will receive the message with a little less smugness and without seeing it as a Congress or BJP issue, but as a national issue.
This was not meant against any political party. It was against all the political parties. It so happens that now it is BJP which is the ruling now.
Thanks Prashanth for clarifying it.
People who have American citizenships can only do so much for Karnataka. Why should they care when they have very little at stake, and their children are Americans.
They want to have some connect with their roots, take part in some events where they can meet up with people from their culture, have some cultural events with some artistes from Karnataka, show their children something and invite some important people who will be visibly impressed and maybe give a couple of speeches.
It would make sense if an organization of Americans took up suitable American issues which is related to Karnataka or Kannadigas (if at all they wanted to do so). Maybe how they can take stuff into Bangalore airport without being bothered about customs (this is probably not an issue anymore with the new airport).
For the real issues related to Karnataka, the youth of Karnataka have the key to everything in their hands, they will do what they have to do. Anyone can try through their AKKA.
isn’t the whole point of inviting politicians to build contacts, relationships for whatever needs the organizers might want in future? Kannada and the sammelana is only a pretext here.
I never believed in ‘Kallara Koota’ sorry, ‘Kannada Koota’ of any kind or any description. I let this congregation do whatever they want. Most orgainsers in organisations like this are the very embodiment of what is wrong in India today. It is that they are in a foreign land and that is the difference.
As some one has said here, the corruption in India has not raised in ugly head today. The CCN (corruption, casteism and nepotism), the unsavoury troika starts to grow rather rapidly during late 1950s, less than 5 years after independence. It started getting visible in politics ( when Kengal Hanumanthiah shifted the capital to Bangalore and started building the Vidhana Soudha. The enquiry instituted to seek the corrupt men in that project , the budget for which many suspected was padded by wads of rupees finding their way to Kengal downwards, discovered nothing. Just months after that the members of the enquiry commission were ‘well rewarded’! But I can tell you from my own experience, there was CCN in recruitment in state-owned industries (ITI, HAL, BEL, HMT etc..), IIT admissions, positions in the IIT, positions in universities and institutions like the AG’s office in Bangalore etc.. etc.. That was the reason I became an NRI as early as 1960s. Those days used to visit Mysore and every time returned back bewildered about how the CCN spawned so many imutants! As an individual, I resisted demands for Dollars/Marks fromjust about every one that I bumped into who wore an offcial badge. In those days, there was no software outsourcing, no coding sweatshops and Dollar/Marks/Pounds Stirling were sought after. After a particularly bad experience of CCN which affected my relatives at home and me in an Indian Embassy, I changed my citizenship. My interest now is to help any one with merit who is a victim of CCN, and to that extent my link with India remains as a slender thread.
The headline image of the post has got very little to do with AKKA WKC and is doing very little to substantiate the apolitical intentions of the author.
I feel that the fight against corruption should involve the political system and not exclude it. I really hope Mr.Shenoy gets a chance to personally pose his questions to the politicians.
I quote from AKKA’s website “AKKA is a non-profit, Educational, Linguistic and Cultural Organization; incorporated under Non Profit Corporation act of the State of Florida, to integrate, coordinate, network and unite the activities of all Kannadigas and Kannada Kootas for promotion and preservation of Kannada language and culture in North America.”
Thus, any agenda of AKKA’s that is not in line with the above should be opposed by AKKA members. Not sure what our politicians’ contribution is to AKKA’s cause.
I attended the previous AKKA meet in Baltimore and was thoroughly disgusted. I will not be attending this time even though I live only 30 mins from the venue.
We Indians like to exhibit our “doddastige” by showing off our proximity to people in power. That is exactly what happens at AKKA. It is an opportunity for the organizers to hobnob with the politicians. Besides, no one speaks in Kannada there anyway. Not nearly enough to spend $400 for two people at least.
Go on, tell me how it is people like me who are a bane to society, who only complain but don’t really do much. You would be wrong though. I call my non-attendance a boycott!
As if there is no corruption in the US of A or let’s say developed countries like Japan? Their corruption very sophisticated. We need to send our civil servants and politicians to Japan to master the art of corruption. They have perfected it.
You can get your work done without paying, it takes time and energy.
You have to struggle. People dont want to do that and they want easy way(s).
I agree with you. These forums are venues where NRIs, power brokers, bureaucrats, politicians make contacts to further enrich themselves, not our state or country.
Did you see the news item in Deccan herald internet edition on how metro should be developed in bengaluuru?
Kiran mazumadaar and the likes are members along with a former nurse.
Has Kiran mazumdaar ever used a public transport?
Will her ideas benefit bengaluuru?
It costs 200$ to attend the AKKA meet?!
Money better spent on some good concerts etc.
Why does Kiran Mazumdaar not move out of Karnataka like she once threatened?
@ Anonymous Guy
That’s just a threat. Why will she move out of Karnataka?
Where can she gulp bottles and bottles of beer and wine alone?
Only Karnataka treats people from outside state as kings and queens.
She will be there forever just like ramanagara rocks!
She is one big racist female. The posters of Bicon has just fair looking females and males!!!
Dr. Sree Reddy… excellent question… obviously Kiran Muzumdar will only give advise.. she will not “follow” it…
Oochara and AG–
The AKKA circus has little to do with NRI Kannadigas earning a living wage in the U.S.
The conglomeration is a chance for well-heeled Kannada folks to demonstrate their illusion of being attached to the land and the language. I know they stage “cultural” events. The artists from Desh are a bacground for showcasing the supposed talents of the children of the privileged. (It is hardly uncontestable that the children of most Kannadigas in the U. S. rarely speak Kannada, even at home.) Also, the occasion is an opportunity for the NRI Kannada investors to help visiting robber politicians (at government expense) to deposit their kickback money in local banks. No Lokayuktha can ever know about such arrangements.
Now there are Vokkaliga Samaja of America, Veerashaiva Sabha of America and such which have similar reunions. Thuggish politicians from their own communities from Karnataka show up at those thamashas to line their pockets.
What do all those visiting legislators and ministers know about naadu and nudi, especially when they belong to a party that is willing to sell the interests of Karnaataka wholesale to the Sangh Parivar in the name of One India?
Look at the text of Yed’s speech. What does it say about putting Kannada and Karnataka first?
Some of those NRIs children dont want to reveal to their classmates that they take part in Indian cultural events or wear Indian dresses or learning Indian art forms. They just hide it from the ‘american public’.
Here in Japan, I started Kannada orgainization few years ago, only to be hijacked by two kannada brahmins!!
Bravo, Sree Reddy. Would you have felt better if your work had been highjacked by, say, two Kannada vokkaligas or Lingaayats?
Often the case is made that Brahmins in India should be DNA tested and deported from the country. Your post shows they spell trouble no matter where they go, Japan or Alaska. Time to think about a final solution.
mr. Pulikeshi the last
Should I thank you?
You criticise vokkaligas and lingayyats all the time at length and soft pedal on your own community.
Why dont you talk about your own community? All brahmins are pure and honest!!
That’s the problem with some brahmins. Some brahmins dont mind treating second generation marathi, tamil, telugu, or any other language brahmins as kannadigas, but they have problems with other communities.
In the beginning one brahmin(with his family name, he should have been easily deported to Maharastra or gujarat) said it will create divisions among Indians when there were already other language associations in Tokyo. He had no problems accepting Iyers or Iyengars, Maharsthra brahmins as Kannadigas.
Atleast Vokkaligas or Lingayaats did not hijack my work like this brahmin!
@ Pulikeshi tl
How would you feel if someone from your community hijacked your work?
I am agreeing with you. Brahmins spell trouble.
I dont mean that way. Anybody and everybody can be trouble shooters.
My reaction would have been the same if hijacked by anybody.
It’s wrong to blame it on one community
Then where did you get the idea that I was defending Brahmins or that I was against Vokkaligas and Lingaayaths? I belong to all castes.
It is amusing how we manage to inject caste into every topic. The topic was to deal with the participation of politicians at AKKA and what role kannadaigas attending it can play.
AKKA is over now. Hope some one reading this blog will write an insightful comment on the outcome and how Karnataka was benefited by the attendance of our political leaders.
There is nothing “amusing” about the jaathi element entering every discourse. It is tragic.
As for the outcome of our leaders attending the conference, we will need to look at their foreign bank accounts.