A certain section of the media and Karnataka Chief Minister S. Siddaramaiah have talked about a so-called “Karnataka model of growth” often during the state election campaign. Reportedly, the CM compared his model to the Gujarat model by saying that “Gujarat is nowhere near us in terms of development and it is Karnataka that has become a role model to others.”
Whether Karnataka under Mr Siddaramaiah is even a model of development may be debatable, but his comparison with Gujarat shows that he concedes that the latter is a model of development worth being compared with.
Now, a key aspect of any ‘development model’, especially a role model, must be how women are doing therein – beginning with, of course, how safe and secure they feel. This first of our Karnataka articles, appearing in this section, will look at the matter of women’s safety.
And one of the foremost observable facts about Karnataka under Mr Siddaramaiah is that there has been a rise in crimes against women. But this is not our assertion. The data below should tell its own story.
CRIMES AGAINST WOMEN: ON THE RISE
The latest National Crime Records Bureau report on Crime in India-2016 shows a very bleak picture of Karnataka. Let us look at the following figures to get a clearer idea:
The above graph clearly shows that there was a rise in crimes against women in Karnataka, while there was a drop in the number of cases in states like Gujarat, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Kerala and Tamil Nadu are Karnataka’s neighbours and two prominent states in southern India. Both have shown a decline in crimes against women whereas Karnataka has shown a rise.
So, by this parameter, Karnataka under Mr Siddaramiah is not even a model in its immediate neighbourhood.
BENGALURU: NO LONGER A SAFE CITY FOR WOMEN?
We remember the horrifying incidents of mass molestation on Brigade Road in Bengaluru in 2016. Bengaluru was never thought of as an unsafe place for women. But that may now be history. During Mr Siddaramaiah’s tenure, crimes against women in Bengaluru have gone up. The below figure shows the trend:
A careful look at the above graph shows how Bengaluru is becoming a more unsafe space for women. At the same time, cities like Ahmedabad, Chennai and Kochi have shown a decline in crimes against women in the very same time period. None of the metropolitan cities in southern India, whether Chennai, Hyderabad or Kochi, has the sheer number of crimes against women as seen in Bengaluru.
Isn’t it then ironic that while Mr Siddaramaiah claims Karnataka as a development model, women’s safety seems to matter so little in his capital city?
HIGH INCIDENCE OF RAPE
When it comes to statistics on the heinous crime of rape, Karnataka, again, shows a high incidence of the crime, especially when compared to other states like Gujarat, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. The below figure illustrates this trend:
The above chart clearly shows how Karnataka has a much higher incidence of rape compared to Gujarat and also other southern Indian states.
This only reiterates a point made earlier. When Karnataka cannot even be a model in its immediate neighbourhood, is it fair for Mr Siddaramaiah to claim that his state – as governed by him – is a role model for all?
Mr Siddaramaiah has constantly talked about the Gujarat model in his entire campaign. The above facts on women’s safety do not support any of the claims he has made. The purpose of comparing Karnataka to other southern Indian states is to compare states that culturally and geographically closer. The gap in women’s safety is starker in Bengaluru, while similar cities like Hyderabad and Chennai do not come close to Bengaluru in terms of crimes against women. Inclusivity of women and their safety is one of the key aspects of development of urban spaces. The above facts show that Mr Siddaramaiah’s claims on development are hollow, or perhaps women’s safety does not feature in his ideas of development. In any case, Karnataka under Mr Siddaramaiah may not be a model worth replicating.