The southern states of the country – particularly Karnataka,Tamil Nadu and Kerala – are witnessing a sea-change in the way their development narrative is playing out. Known for good governance and solid socio-economic development indicators, these states seem to be losing the plot altogether. With crimes against women on the rise, serious environmental issues coming to the forefront and political violence erupting at the slightest reason, these southern states that were once seen as stable hubs of governance are now fast turning into volatile areas where violence can break out any time and the situation of law and order is tense.
Bengaluru, known as an IT hub and a preferred city for India’s young tech-savvy generation who dream of setting up startups and launching their own business brands, is now taking a big hit. Every day, we wake up to shocking stories of unrest, violence, political unrest, riots, rapes, assaults on women and even increasing instances of communal tensions in the city.
Remember, how violent and unsafe the city turned into during the Cauvery protests? Then on New Year’s Eve, there was a horrifying episode of women being molested right in the heart of the city – we are talking about Brigade Road and MG Road -where male friends and relatives found themselves outnumbered by revellers and anarchy seemed to break out on the streets despite more than a thousand cops in the area. Remember, we are talking about a city that has enjoyed a good reputation for not only being cosmopolitan but also a leader in terms of setting technology trends and investment friendly initiatives.
It is not very different in Tamil Nadu, which has received a huge jolt, following the death of its much-loved Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and the political dramas that have taken center-stage thereafter. The political uncertainty is worsening every day despite a CM having been sworn in over the weekend.
Be it the rebellious jallikattu protests on Marina Beach that turned violent following government intervention or the tussle for power that led to the show-down between the OPS and EPS camps and several reports of MLAs being caged in resorts and Mannargudi mafia running the state, things have never looked worse for those who want to invest in the state.
Kerala, which had enjoyed a reputation of prosperity, enviable literacy level and high socio-economic indicators, has been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Crimes against women have risen like never before, especially cases of kidnapping women, molestation, and rapes.
Political violence is also at an all-time high, with party persons hacking and targeting rival party workers. Communal tensions are evident. All of these incidents lead to the different political parties or trade unions declaring hartals and strikes at least once a week – which means that the state comes to a virtual standstill and not even a single shop or establishment can stay open.
In all these developments, it has been widely reported across these states have come to a near-shut down with schools and colleges closing, businesses being forced to shut down and normal life coming to a standstill.
Serious questions emerge in this context: Would these developments not impact the each of the state’s investment potential and the lives of its citizens? Is there no law and order system in place to make sure that ordinary people and their lives do not come to a standstill? Why are state governments keeping silent and encouraging this climate of political fear and turbulences? What is the long-term impact on potential investors?
With the once peaceful southern states turning into politically volatile hubs, it raises serious concerns about the quality of governance in each of these states.