Age no bar,I have email: Karnataka’s new 65-yr-old IT minister

Industry leaders have questioned the choice of 'tech-inept' S R Patil for post

Written by Saritha Rai | Bangalore | Published: May 31, 2013 4:08 am

Karnataka’s new IT & BT minister,65-year-old S R Patil,is a misfit for Bangalore’s high-profile,global infotech and biotech sectors,two industry leaders have said.

But the minister insists age has nothing to do with it.

“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 Mohandas Pai,former Infosys CFO.

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw,chairman and MD of Biocon,tweeted that she agreed. “CM can’t afford to be seen to be viewing IT/BT lightly — these are priority sectors for Karnataka.”

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 Byregowda 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.

Patil told The Indian Express: “My heart and mind are as youthful as any young person’s.I have got zeal,I will do wonders with this portfolio.” He promptly announced that his department would triple Karnataka’s IT revenues from Rs 1.35 lakh crore to Rs 4 lakh crore within his term.

Some of his Congress colleagues reveal that Patil is not comfortable with a smart phone,rarely responds to email personally,and is not on Facebook or Twitter — all essential accoutrements for the young Indians employed in the industry he will oversee. The minister dismissed these as “silly things”. “I have got email,” he said.

A minister is not expected to delve deep into technical aspects of the portfolio,Patil said. “It is my ministerial duty to concern myself with infrastructure,taxation and investments…I take this portfolio as a challenge,let the industry judge me after six months in the job.”

The appointment has shocked the IT industry in Bangalore which has nursed feelings of monumental governmental neglect in recent years. Successive Karnataka governments have failed to improve infrastructure in the city and thwarted investors. The selection brought to question the importance Chief Minister Siddaramaiah assigned to the industry as well as the city.

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