Karnataka’s aged IT minister allays industry’s misgivings

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Bangalore, May 31: Karnataka’s new IT and Biotechnology Industry (BT) Minister S.R. Patil has sought to allay the industry’s misgivings on his ability to handle the portfolio despite his age and little exposure to the knowledge sector.

“What has age got to do with the post? It is the prerogative of the chief minister to allocate any portfolio to his ministers. I have the ability to discharge my duties and responsibilities to the best of my ability with four decades in public life,” Patil, 65, told IANS Friday.

s.r.patil sworn

A controversy broke out in the local media after Manipal Global Education chairman and former Infosys director T.V. Mohandas Pai tweeted “It is a very sad day for us” soon after Patil was allocated the IT and biotechnology industry portfolio May 26.

“Patil is a seasoned politician and the (ruling) party’s leader in the council. But ministers like R. Gundu Rao or Krishna Byre Gowda would have been more suitable as they are younger and more capable to connect with a global audience as they would have better understanding of the industry,” Pai said.

Biocon Ltd. chairperson Kiran Mazumdar Shaw also tweeted: “Patil has a good reputation. I look forward to his support for IT and BT, but (am) surprised that (a) younger tech-savvy person (was) not picked.”

“As two important sectors of the state economy, IT and BT need to be given additional thrust to attract more investors to the state and facilitate their expansion in view of the competition from other states and overseas countries,” Shaw said.

“The portfolios may be new to me but I am familiar with the industry as I have seen its growth and also use e-mail. Computers and mobiles are not new to me. We all use them. The industry functions under the guidance and supervision of the respective departments with well-laid policies and budgets,” Patil said.

The industry representatives, however, say that a ministry like the IT and BT requires a young and tech-savvy minister who can engage with global executives and retain the image of Karnataka as a preferred investment destination in the knowledge sector.
As ruling party’s lawmakers, Rao and Gowda, who got elected in the May 5 assembly polls from the city constituencies, were made ministers of state for food & civil supplies and agriculture with independent charge.

“I am as much committed to the growth of the knowledge sector in the state as the industry. I am open to their (the industry’s) suggestions and advise to ensure Karnataka remains a preferred destination for global firms and investors,” Patil added.


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