CHURUMURI POLL: Who should be IT minister?

What qualifications must an elected MLA possess to become a minister? Whose prerogative is it to nominate a minister?  Who decides what portfolio a minister must be allotted? Should ministers of certain specific portfolios possess some certain attributes? And should external inputs be given consideration at all in the ministry-making process?

These are evergreen questions and they gain currency in the light of the decision of the new Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah to name S.R. Patil as the State’s information technology minister—and the quite extraordinary intervention of former Infosys man T.V. Mohandas Pai and Biocon chief Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw.

# “Surprised at choice of minister for IT/BT. Need a person who can work with global companies and a lot younger. Sad day for us,” tweeted Pai.

# “CM can’t afford to be seen to be viewing IT/BT lightly — these are priority sectors for Karnataka,” said Shaw on her micro-blog account.

In a report for the Indian Express, correspondent Saritha Rai writes:

“Pai and Mazumdar-Shaw were only echoing the widespread feeling in the industry — though no one else said it openly and even these two later backpedalled — that a suave, urban-educated, technology-savvy minister would have better suited.

“The industry was backing choices such as Krishna Byre Gowda and Dinesh Gundu Rao — both dynamic, articulate legislators in their forties. Patil, from backward Bagalkot district, is a lawyer by training with a background in the co-operative movement and is not exactly known for his tech-savvy.”

In a report for The Telegraph, correspondent K.M. Rakesh writes:

“I thought either Krishna Byre Gowda (son of former minister C. Byre Gowda) or Dinesh Gundu Rao (son of former chief minister R. Gundu Rao) would get the IT/BT portfolio,” said a Congress lawmaker.

Rahul Karuna, crisis manager with a BPO, said the IT/BT ministry deserved a heavyweight. ‘We were expecting a big name or a young minister. It’s not about the age or looks of the man; it’s that this portfolio deserves a more powerful politician.'”

Obviously, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, but implicit in these statements are stereotypes that boggle the mind and should shame the likes of “suave, urban-educated and tech-savvy” Pai and Shaw. That a 65-year-old man from Bagalkot (still very much a part of Karnataka)  is not cut out for the likes of them in Bangalore. That his age, language and tech skills, and mofussil background are all against him in the slick world.

But above all, the arrogant assumption that the IT/BT industry shall decide the choice of IT minister, not the chief minister. If the children and women of Karnataka (whose number vastly outdoes the number of IT/BT professionals) cannot decide who the next women and child welfare minister will be, what right does the IT/BT industry have?

Yes, Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna did wonders for the industry. But do M/s Pai & Shaw know if he knew how to switch on a computer via UPS, send an email or write a blog before he took over as chief minister? And didn’t he come from Somanahalli in Maddur taluk of Mandya district? And where specifically have the dynamism of Dinesh Gundu Rao and Krishna Byre Gowda been displayed for the industry to be batting for their case?

Question: is the pampered IT/BT industry batting out of its crease?

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19 Responses to “CHURUMURI POLL: Who should be IT minister?”

  1. M Says:

    I guess Pai and Shaw will garland and grovel at Patil if he is willing to ACQUIRE several hundred acres of FARM LAND and hand it over on a platter to them. Both Pai and Shaw’s companies got over 100 acres of acquired land in Electronic City after development by KIADB at below market price. My family has been living in Bangalore since the days of my grandfather and we have not received any BDA site. With the dream of owing a home, my mother had invested in private sites at various time and in each case, BDA took over the land and paid the compensation to the original land owner. Loss plus no site.

    Jai Ho Patil.

  2. M Says:

    I guess Pai-Shaw will be happy-happy if Patil is willing to ACQUIRE FARM LAND and it over to them at below the market price. Their companies own 100 acres of acquired, govt developed and handed over land in Electronic City in Bangalore.

    Jai Ho Patil.

  3. dr ramesh Says:

    All said and done, I was very impressed with the rebuttal given by patil,
    If TECHIE CZARS could endure KATTA and Co as IT MINISTERS, why not me-?
    BPAC had sponsored and supported Krishna byre gowda during elections, now BPAC members want him to be IT minister? Sinister plot.
    a minister infiltrates govt on behest of IT BT CZARS, gets cabinet decisions leaked and manipulated. Kannadigas should be careful of these nefarious elements.

  4. sam Says:

    Unfortunately IT/BT czars can never be made happy. The more benefit/facilities they get, they clamour for more. I wish they wait for the man to perform and then make comments. IT BT is restricted to more or less Bangalore and karnataka is not just Bangalore.

  5. Communal Award Says:


  6. Faldo Says:

    In the IT industry itself, many of the bigwigs who run tech companies are not exactly in their teens. In fact some of the people who wished for a younger minister themselves are closer in age to Mr. Patil. People are free to lobby for whoever they want but should be careful of sending out a wrong message that the industry is biased towards a certain stereotype.

  7. Sanjeeva Says:

    The post is insulting to the democratic system we have, despite its deficiencies. If the IT/BT industry has to decide the person for holding the portfolio, his age, personality, education level, background etc., then the persons for holding the following ministries should be decided as such:
    Home: IAS/IPS officers or even a group of pehalwans!
    Law: Advocates
    Tourism: Tour operators
    Transport: Bus Owners
    Finance: Chartered Accountants or Businessmen
    Agriculture : Farmers
    Animal Husbandry: Livestock Owners
    Kannada & Culture: Novelists
    Health: Doctors
    Education: School/College owners
    Excise: Liquor lobby
    Irrigation: Engineers
    PWD: Contractors
    Labour: Workers’ Associations
    Fisheries: Fishermen
    Animal Husbandry: Livestock owners
    Housing; Real Estate sharks
    Food and Civil Supply: Ration Shop owners
    What a comedy……
    Like M says, what the IT/BT industry wants is lot of free land and other facilities.
    And what is their contribution to the city or the state?
    They don’t even build a separate colony for their workers. Their employees do not bother to vote.
    Mentioning that Patil hails from moffusil is even more an affront to the countrymen.

  8. Vasanth Raju N Says:

    This IT people are stupid to the core. They have once again exposed themselves. Who are they decide to who should be the IT minister. They are authoritative in nature and want same thing in other area. Down to Pai and Shah for their autocratic nature and behaving like in humans.

  9. Prasanna Says:

    Wish our poor farmers had this much lobbying ability. Much of their problems could have been solved.

  10. Anonymous Guy Says:

    In other news:
    IT major Infosys has increased the age limit for holding chairman’s post to 75 years, a move that facilitated the re-appointment of N R Narayana Murthy at the top position.

  11. Ed Says:

    The 21st Century belongs to China. China’s funding of their scientific research in the areas like biological sciences and in particular genetics has been phenomenal. They have progressed well in their diversification which includes other areas in physical sciences besides engineering. Looking at the number of scientific publications coming from there particularly addressing the applications of science and engineering, India has a lot to learn from China, and particularly it should stop this narrow focus in IT, where it has no innovations at all, and diversify its interests even into certain areas in Humanities.

  12. Goldstar Says:

    How naive of Pai and Shaw to publicly lobby for a minister of their choice !! They should instead take a leaf out of Ambanis’ book to who routinely get their ministers into prized Petroleum or Telecom portfolios. Remember how Mukesh Ambani got Jaipal Reddy removed not in the distant past ?!?!

    And the media/bloggers are s**t-scared to write about this as the Ambanis’ own the media ( and also the Congress, as was revealed in the Radia tapes ).

  13. harkol Says:

    It is ridiculous that we need to have only elected representatives heading our ministries when there are better talents available for such.

    We should have the Chief Minister elected directly, so he can appoint the best talents to such posts, instead of needing to entertain all these ‘elected’ oldies, who may or may not have a clue about what they need to do to administer well!

  14. Nastika Says:

    @harkol, I hope you wouldn’t want to be ruled by BSY’s clan when people elected BSY as CM in 2008.

    In the current system, the elected folks have the best people working under them. Elected folks have an ear to the people and the qualified folks have a plan to implement them.

    The minister need not be smart. All he needs is to decide what is good for people.


    Its funny that Pai & Shaw, who are closer to Patil in age want somebody who is half their age. Would Pai-Shaw leave their current job because they are close to 65?

    Also, Pai has to answer why they got back NRN (who is as same age as Patil) to turn around Infy.


  15. Ringer Says:

    A tale of two 65-year oldies here recently-one came back from the so called retirement to assume leadership of an IT company in troubled days so he says ( others smell a dynastical odour!), second, presumably never touched a computer keyboard, but would drive the IT policies of the State. Grey power or a shame that the country has no faith in the next generation?

  16. FirstReality Says:

    Bill gates from us of a.

  17. babuds Says:

    we should be the last persons to complain about senile/imbecile ministers, crumbling infrastructure, occasional water supply, erratic power supply, even IT/BT going for a ‘pulti’, because we really deserve all these things both as voters and as irresponsible citizens.

  18. Objectivist Mantra Says:

    Why the hell does this country need an IT minister?

    It is our third world mentality that makes us ask such questions. We don’t need a minister for anything. All the ministers should be turned out of office. They should be asked to find employment in the private sector.

    A poor country like India cannot afford to have 70 to 100 ministers.

  19. hkollar Says:


    You didn’t get what I said. I wasn’t talking of CM doing nepotistic or party based hires, but hiring qualified folks to positions.

    However, I see what you mean. There is some danger of abuse, that is already there in current system too.

    How else can we explain an useless man sitting as PM and another useless man occupying union Home ministry?

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