Three Ways Karnataka Is Putting A Futuristic Spin On Sustainable Development

*This is a sponsored feature by Karnataka Government.

With a highly educated workforce, more than 400 research and development centers and thousands of post-secondary institutions, Karnataka has earned the label, “Knowledge Capital of India.”

Bengaluru’s high-profile startups often overshadow other established sectors, such as heavy engineering, biotechnology, automobiles and aerospace. But the numbers speak for themselves: exports contribute about 47% of Karnataka’s economy, and the state recorded the fourth-highest cumulative FDI inflows since 2000. Clearly, the policy of nurturing innovation in both old and new industries has paid off.

As the economy breaks new barriers, there is space yet for more innovation in this industrial base. Karnataka has already set national standards in technology-led initiatives around transportation and agriculture. A futuristic approach to these sectors ensures greater advancement and improved livelihoods along the way.

Electrifying future transportation

Karnataka was already known for its automobile industry - generating more than Rs 3,800 crore annually - when it passed the Karnataka Electric Vehicle and Energy Storage Policy in 2017. This policy aims to make the state the number one destination for e-vehicle manufacturing by incentivizing and rewarding their production.

This move is not only about boosting the sector but creating a sustainable transportation policy. Climate change, dependence on fossil fuels and the cost of transportation infrastructure have compelled policymakers to search for practical alternatives.

The policy includes developing e-vehicle manufacturing zones that come with readymade infrastructure, such as testing facilities. The government will create charging infrastructure as a commercially viable venture with the help of private investment, and may subsidize charging and battery swapping stations.

Also on the cards is a world-class research and innovation hub with a state of the art laboratory and incubation centre. Engineers and entrepreneurs will collaborate through public-private partnerships (PPP).

An estimated Rs 31,000 crore is expected to be poured into e-vehicle manufacturing, creating 55,000 jobs and giving Bengaluru the title of India’s e-vehicle capital. To prepare this workforce, the state plans a skill development centre, a joint initiative between the government and private e-vehicle players.

Road connectivity: the driver of prosperity

The Karnataka State Highways Improvement Project (KSHIP) has entered the third phase of developing and upgrading the state’s core road network. The need for first-class transport connectivity is vital to maintaining Karnataka’s reputation as an industrial and technology hub, and crucial for continuing economic growth.

KSHIP is equally necessary for socio-economic advancement - an improved road network will connect more remote areas with urban and suburban zones, increasing access to public services such as health care and education.

With this in mind, KSHIP-III endeavours to build 418.5 km of roads at a cost of Rs 5,334.2 crore in 2017-18. Upgrades include wider lanes, paved shoulders and heightened safety with lights and footpaths. Bus shelters, signs and marked crossings will benefit pedestrians and women.

The project will also conduct a road safety audit to identify serious accident spots along the core road network and recommend changes.

Since inception, KSHIP has been funded by the government, PPPs and multilateral agencies such as the Asian Development Bank. It’s due for completion by the end of 2023.

E-mandis: agriculture’s digital revolution

Karnataka has led the way in digitizing how farmers market and sell their crops. This in turn has revolutionized the agricultural supply chain. The government tied up with NCDEX (National Commodity and Derivatives Exchange Limited) to establish an electronic platform in 2014 and determine the sale price of commodities.

Around 298 lakh tonnes of commodities worth Rs 56,696 crore have been traded through this unified market platform (UMP).

Virtual mandis automate the weighing, invoicing and accounting required to auction a crop, and help farmers decide the best prices for products. This has opened up the bidding process and increased competition, and therefore livelihoods, for farmers. More socio-economic opportunities for farmers means they’re less likely to approach loan sharks and rack up usurious debt.

Since the UMP was introduced, all but five of the agriculture produce marketing committees (APMCs) have come online. Some 32,000 licensed traders use e-mandi services and more than 42 lakh farmers are registered.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi used the Karnataka e-mandi model as a foundation to launch the National Agricultural Market (NAM), once again showing the state has always been ahead of its time.