Intelligent but not Wise

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Every time I asked Mangaloreans as to what differentiates them from people from other places. They always said to me proudly that ‘People from this part of the world are intelligent.’ Intelligence for me is a very relative term; you have to tell as to in which area are you so. And when asked as to in which conditions they feel are they ‘Intelligent’, I was to hear ‘any sphere of life.’ Any sphere? I wonder. Isn’t that an exaggerated statement? Not many agree that way, but the question always that aroused in my mind was as to in what way we have made Mangalore a better place to live in out of that Intelligence. We do, and indeed, have a lot of developments happening in our part of our world – have no doubts.

The standard of living has grown substantially over a period of time. But there is nothing really that is to be proud of. Yes and that I say because over 20% of the city’s youths are today out of the city and the same is true in the surrounding areas of the conurbation. As a general rule, if a person has done with his education the first thing he would be doing is to find an employment opportunity for him/herself in Bangalore and would eventually, from here, seek opportunity to fly abroad. In the 70s, 80s and 90s a similar trend existed here, but with a difference, the destination was Bombay (now Mumbai). "Aaye Mumbaidada Battine" (He has come from Mumbai) would have been what today it could be related with US.

The place is house to country’s finest Engineering, Medical, Management, Paramedical and Non-technical colleges. The National Institute of Technology (NITK formerly know as Karnataka Regional Engineering College or KREC), Kasturba Medical College (KMC), Nitte Education Trust are the proud crowned jewels for Mangalore. Though home to finest educational establishments, sadly, the place is yet to be a center of Industrial or Research oriented activities. None from the place seem to be ever bothered answering this question. Why is that so? Is that because we have grown too much self-centric?

""I wonder how many would have been worried about the state of Industrial Areas in the city. But let it be understood that more than 80% of industries in the areas are prepared for closer – any moment – yet no alarm bells have been rung. An important reason for that could be well laid on unavailability of trained technical, as well as non-technical, manpower – most of which jump out of the city instantaneously after their education. Blame may be also laid on our vernacular industrialists who have done so little for their fellow employees. An industrialist in the town may love to spend as much as 1,000,000 for his daughters wedding than to reinvest, even half of, the amount for betterment of the unit and its employees.

Let me say an interesting case to you, an industrialist in the city has in his company’s pay roll the name of his wife, children and in-laws (those who don’t render any services to the business at all) drawing pay more than 3 times in comparison to slogging workmen. The workmen, who are with his master for decades, are paid less than 3,000 rupees, with no extra benefits. They can seldom expect any better pay from respective employers and given the fact that unions are out of question, and if at all exist are just for the heck of it. So what would they do? Tell and insist their children to study hard and find themselves better opportunities abroad, or out of the city at the least. Those are the kids who are today desperately employed abroad and have no reasons to come down to city except to spend some time with their family and friends.

This and more are among those many reasons because of which there have been no considerable developments in the area. And yet we take proud to call ourselves ‘intelligent’. That we are, let us have no doubts. But is there anything in it for us, as Mangaloreans, to be proud of? We are intelligent from which only we are being benefited. But don’t we have any obligation to the city and nation? Is there anyone else who is being benefited? The place would have gained, if and only, if we were wise. If we had thought that our greater benefit is in the benefiting of our society and nation.

Thank god for I having met some bubbling entrepreneurs in the areas, else I would had been left to the belief that: there aren’t any wise here. Among one of them is Rohith Bhat. Rohith, like others, had indeed been abroad to come back to his home down to turn it into what he likes to call ‘Silicon beach of India’. He may not be successful in the comparative term. But what is commendable is his interest to come back for doing something commendable being in Udupi.

The second example I would love to state is about Dr. S. S. Mahant-Shetti and his Karnataka Microelectronic Design Center Private Limited, or KARMIC in short. Dr. Mahant-Shetti owns more than 63 American Patents and had been at the helm of Texas Instruments in US. Today his brain child KARMIC is based in Manipal and is doing state of the art work in ‘high performance semiconductor design solutions’.

At Mangalore itself, Laser Soft Infosystems is also doing a commendable job. But the problem as I see it is that none have recognized them really, except for Robosoft. Nobody wants to imitate them, or want to do something like what they are into. Our parents are still pushing their children to work for companies like Infosys and Wipro, but are not inspiring them to build organizations like those. Are they (parents) intelligent in any sense? A good point for debate! But has any one some time for that?

It’s sad but true our parents then and now are setting bad precedent for their children. As a result Mangalore today is simply producing talents and offering them, in golden plate, to other places. I remember a good dialogue from a very successful Bollywood movie: "Apne Ghar ka Diya, dusre Ghar ko Ujala deneke barabar…" Simply it says: Our lamp giving light to neighbor’s house. The sadness is that we are giving the light not to our neighboring towns or states, but countries like United States. We might be intelligent, but are certainly not wise.

Author: U. Mahesh Prabhu- Mangalore

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