There are startling similarities between the United Kingdom and the State of Karnataka. The numbers in the table below speak for themselves and the figures reinforce the fact that Karnataka is a country within the Indian subcontinent. Of course, the table does not compare the two entities comprehensively. Any comparison between the UK and Karnataka in the spheres of economics, human development indices, and global diplomatic presence will find Karnataka seriously wanting. However, there are other things concerning governance and citizenship, which are far more fundamental to any thriving democracy. It is in this regard that the two political and geographic entities can learn a lot of good things from each other.
The UK democracy has matured to a level where they are now talking mostly about National Health Service, Foreign Policy, Border Control, and Devolution of Power among member states. In the upcoming assembly election in 2018, if Karnataka can discuss its forests, rivers, schools, hospitals, languages, and rights of its own citizens in the Indian Union, we will have started in the right direction. But, we are too far away from such a discourse. In Karnataka, the elections are determined by Caste Equations, Party Doctrines, Powers of Alien Masters (Central leaders), and Wild Corruption Allegations from people who are corrupt themselves. Karnataka can learn a thing or two from the UK in setting the right agenda for elections.
Last year, the UK voted in a referendum to leave the European Union. The problem faced by the UK because of EU membership is very similar to the problems Karnataka is facing from being a member-state of India. Many of the laws governing Karnataka citizens are made by a few aliens sitting in New Delhi. Natural resources and infrastructure in Karnataka is crumbling mostly due to the greed of the locals, but the vast number of people migrating to our home state from other parts of India are not helping (the reason for their migration is not Karnataka, rather their home states). These circumstances in Karnataka should typically lead to an IN/OUT referendum, but the referendum will not, and dare I say, should never happen. The question of separation of Karnataka from India does not arise. Kannada in Karnataka is what English is in the United Kingdom. But, Kannada has not ill-treated other native languages in Karnataka, whereas English has stifled other languages in the United Kingdom. While there is a sense of alienation and neglect in some provinces within Karnataka, these resentments will never become separatism within Karnataka. We have so far been sensible enough to disregard make-believe propaganda from fringe elements.
It is true that the Indian Central Government is not devolving enough powers to Karnataka legislature. The Indian Central Government’s behaviour towards state assemblies such as that in Karnataka, is very similar to how the UK government is treating Scottish and Welsh parliaments. Having said that, I think the UK has done a lot better than India. UK has devolved a significant share of legislative and budget making powers to local parliaments. We in Karnataka, will not take the route of referendum for independence or whatever. The UK will benefit from a lesson or two in pragmatism from Karnataka and see the value of staying united despite grave grievances. We are happy at the moment to be citizens of Karnataka and India. We will protest and resist the attempts of Union of India which is killing native culture, language, and the landscape of Karnataka. There is an economic angle to every argument. There is an emotional angle to every argument. But, Karnataka’s and India’s cultural and territorial integrity go beyond emotional and economic arguments (respectively). We are bound by a collective consciousness, which is always aware of the collective sacrifices of our forefathers and mothers who knowingly or unknowingly made Karnataka and India. They never knew that Karnataka will be Karnataka of today and they never saw India as India of today. But, we know where we are and how we came here. We have to accept our current flaws, acknowledge the past, and strive towards a better tomorrow.
ELECTIONS IN THE UK
In 2014, Scotland (a member state of the UK) voted in a referendum to decide whether to stay in or out of the UK (Scotland narrowly voted to stay in). In 2015, the UK voted in a general election and elected 650 MPs to the parliament at Westminster. In 2016, the UK as a whole voted in a referendum (the Brexit vote) on UK’s membership of the European Union. UK as a whole chose to exit the EU, although some member states voted to stay in. In 2017 (next month), the UK is now going through another ‘premature’ general election (June 2017) to decide who will lead them through thick and thin of Brexit.
ELECTIONS IN KARNATAKA
In 2012, Karnataka voted for its State assembly. Karnataka voted for the Congress party. In 2014, Karnataka voted along with other member states of the Indian nation to elect a Union government in New Delhi. The Indian Union voted for the BJP. In 2018, Karnataka will be voting again for its State assembly.