In Tamil Nadu, the place politics and cinema mix simply, the one hundredth day of an inaugural is a special day. Ahead of that milestone in workplace, first-time chief minister M.Ok. Stalin is decided to show that his authorities is a break with the past 5 many years of Dravidian rule in the state. Stalin, 68, is solely the third chief minister from the DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam), after his father M. Karunanidhi and C.N. Annadurai earlier. The seventh-time period MLA has wealthy expertise in each politics and administration, having been a minister and deputy chief minister in addition to a proactive opposition chief throughout the regimes of the rival AIADMK (All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam).
With the DMK alliance’s commanding victory in the meeting election in April (159 of 234 seats), Stalin leads a steady authorities and has the alternative to reimagine Tamil Nadu’s growth, each in imaginative and prescient and scale. “Tamil Nadu should become the most attractive industrial destination in South Asia and provide human capital to the world. There should be no economic or social disparity here,” he mentioned on July 9 whereas addressing the first digital assembly of the newly constituted Chief Minister’s Economic Advisory Council (CMEAC). Stalin emphasised that Tamil Nadu was prepared for complete and swift change and had the potential to emerge as a mannequin state in the nation. Growth, he added, shouldn’t be restricted to financial prosperity however must also usher in societal reforms and academic development. The members of the CMEAC are Nobel laureate economist Esther Duflo of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); former RBI governor Raghuram Rajan; Arvind Subramanian, former chief financial advisor to the Union authorities; growth economist Jean Drèze; and former Union finance secretary S. Narayan.
Rising above the politics of intense rivalry between the two Dravidian majors, Stalin has declared himself as the chief minister of the complete state, together with individuals who didn’t vote for the DMK. Unlike his predecessors, who saved political rivals at an arm’s size, he included C. Vijayabaskar, well being minister in the earlier AIADMK authorities, in the state’s Covid advisory committee. Recognising advantage, he retained Dr J. Radhakrishnan as well being secretary whereas shuffling round some prime bureaucrats.
To construct a responsive and accountable administration, Stalin introduced in choose IAS officers on key positions, reminiscent of the new chief secretary, V. Irai Anbu, and a number of other officers appointed to the chief minister’s workplace (CMO). The DMK authorities is additionally seeking to appoint extra IAS recruits as district collectors reasonably than counting on officers promoted from the state administrative service, who should not solely older however thought-about to be typically pliable. “There is a refreshing change in the choice of administrators for key jobs in Tamil Nadu. It’s a good start,” says former civil servant M.G. Devasahayam.
Stalin appears to dislike occasion propaganda in the garb of social welfare. Political observers level to the distribution of 14 sorts of meals/ family merchandise to the state’s 20 million ration card holders on the event of Karunanidhi’s 98th delivery anniversary on June 3 as a living proof. The packets didn’t carry pictures of Karunanidhi or Stalin. Under AIADMK rule in the past, doles would invariably carry stickers of occasion supremo J. Jayalalithaa. While Stalin has shunned such gimmicks—not less than for now—sections of DMK employees really feel that extending welfare with out placing their occasion’s stamp on it’ll deny the occasion a few of the political capital it might need earned.
But Stalin believes if his authorities delivers, electoral dividends will comply with. He has repeatedly talked about operating a clear authorities the place ministers and officers not solely know their duties but in addition their rights. This is in contrast to something seen in the past 10 years of AIADMK rule. “Emphasising on administrative efficacy over political pragmatism and engaging with public officials and professionals rather than assuming that work will happen are some of the hallmarks of Stalin’s style of functioning,” says Ramu Manivannan, head of the division of politics and public administration, University of Madras. “Stalin is betting on good governance. He wants to be engaged with the bureaucracy rather than be seen as controlling it.”
Stalin has despatched a message down the DMK rank and file that no one ought to benefit from the occasion being in energy, intervene with governance at any degree or harass the public and political rivals. The paperwork has been instructed to not give in to stress from occasion leaders. Significantly, a number of of Stalin’s ministers dealing with key portfolios have interacted with the media, in contrast to the days of Karunanidhi after they would stay tightlipped. Political observers say it signifies better democracy inside not simply the authorities but in addition the DMK underneath Stalin. They imagine this comes from his stature as the undisputed chief of his occasion.
In a show of collective accountability, in the first few weeks of the authorities, some ministers even took media questions on portfolios they weren’t in command of. Foremost amongst them was the articulate finance minister Palanivel Thiagarajan (PTR). He candidly spoke about the state authorities’s plans to reform the administration of temples, with a qualifier that choices would lastly relaxation with his colleague and minister for Hindu spiritual and charitable endowments, P.Ok. Sekar Babu. “Stalin’s choice of a technocrat as finance minister, though one rooted in Dravidian ideology, the constitution of CMEAC, and his acknowledgement that Tamil Nadu’s economy was in a mess but he would do what it takes to put it back on track are unprecedented initiatives for any regional or national party to risk,” says political commentator N. Sathiya Moorthy.
Stalin’s main problem shall be the Tamil Nadu economic system. Hit exhausting by the pandemic, the state’s debt is anticipated to be over Rs 5 lakh crore in 2021-22. Its public sector enterprises have a debt burden of round Rs 2 lakh crore. Revenue is rising solely by a number of departments. The GST regime has disadvantaged the state of the proper to levy taxes and, subsequently, it must strengthen itself by monetising its property and sources. “Our government’s priority is to fix Tamil Nadu’s financial condition in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, increasing the state’s contribution to the national GDP, from the current 10 per cent to 14-15 per cent, and reducing interest payments of the state,” says PTR. The measures deliberate embrace safeguarding MSMEs and enhancing ease of doing enterprise to draw traders and create jobs.
Stalin has been daring to shed a few of the DMK’s agnostic, anti-Brahmin ideology that had commenced with Jayalalithaa, a Brahmin, turning into chief minister in 1991. Three members of the CMEAC are Tamil Brahmins, supposedly anathema for previous-college Dravidian ideologues. From day one, Stalin has put spiritual endowments minister Sekar Babu on the job of visiting the main state authorities-run temples with the intention of retrieving parts of their huge properties misplaced to personal lessees and sub-lessees over the many years. He has additionally acquired the checklist of properties of those temples uploaded on-line, aside from saying varied measures for streamlining temple administration (see The Great Temple Run).
Dravidian rule, be it by the DMK or AIADMK, has been marked by an unedifying observe file of corruption over the many years, so it has been a frightening process for Stalin to start on a clear slate. “While the choice of bureaucrats for select posts, including in the CMO, suggests that he has picked some individuals with high integrity, the same cannot be said of all his ministers. Some ministers face cases and old complaints in departments commonly identified with corruption, such as municipal administration, highways and public works,” says Jayaram Venkatesan, founder- convenor of Arappor Iyakkam, an anticorruption watchdog in the state. Several instances filed by Arappor Iyakkam in opposition to ministers of the earlier AIADMK authorities are pending with the state’s Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption or are being heard by the courts. The DMK, too, had made allegations in opposition to AIADMK ministers throughout the meeting ballot marketing campaign and offered the governor with a ‘corruption list’ of the earlier authorities.
As chief minister, Stalin shall be anticipated to behave on these instances that his occasion had raised. At current, he seems to be accommodative. What will ultimately occur may additionally rely upon how others act and react, particularly these in the AIADMK, when he permits due course of in pursuing corruption expenses in opposition to former ministers. “Stalin is showing maturity. He can deal with compliments and criticisms with great balance because he has spent long years being on the edge of ascendancy and yet away from the top post,” feels Manivannan.
TUSSLE WITH THE CENTRE
The DMK dispensation’s relations with the Narendra Modi authorities is going to be one other of Stalin’s large challenges. Since he assumed workplace, the DMK has referred to the central authorities solely as Union authorities (Ondriya Arasu in Tamil), arguing that it encapsulates the ‘philosophy of federalism’. Analysts say the Stalin authorities is probably to construct stress on the Centre on a number of of Tamil Nadu’s calls for. One of them is the name for scrapping the NEET medical entrance examination in order that the state can leverage the giant variety of medical schools for which infrastructure was constructed with investments from inside Tamil Nadu. NEET, Tamil Nadu argues, deprives MBBS aspirants from the state admission to those schools.
The coming months may even see Stalin getting extra vocal about the autonomy of states. In June, he wrote to the chief ministers of most non-BJP dominated states to oppose the draft Indian Ports Bill, 2021, which, critics argue, will divest state governments of powers associated to the growth and regulation of minor ports. Earlier, he wrote to the CMs to construct consensus on demanding a moratorium on loans taken by small companies.
Stalin has additionally demanded withdrawal of the draft Cinematograph (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which seeks to provide the Centre powers to reverse certifications given to movies by the censor board. “Stalin is opposed to NEET and GST, in particular, and overall the attitude of the Union government towards states. On the demand for giving more powers to the states, Tamil Nadu’s voice matters. Stalin, therefore, realises his unique role among influential voices in the country,” says Manivannan.
Stalin has begun his chief ministerial innings on a promising word, exhibiting that he has each the intent and concepts to rework governance. His administration has fulfilled a few of the ballot guarantees, reminiscent of free journey for girls in strange fare buses throughout Tamil Nadu and slashing costs of ‘Aavin’ milk equipped by the state-run dairy. To present he walks the discuss, Stalin, on his very first day in workplace (May 7), tasked an IAS officer with redressing public grievances he had acquired throughout the ballot marketing campaign. But a number of challenges await him, starting with an anticipated third wave of Covid. “The Stalin government’s policies and programmes and his governance model will be better known only after the pandemic is behind the state,” says Moorthy. The Tamil Nadu CM shall be a keenly watched administrator in the months forward.
The Great Temple Run
Even as the M.Ok. Stalin authorities takes inventory of obtainable and encroached temple land with a purpose to get better or monetise the property, it is planning different far-reaching reforms, reminiscent of appointing ladies as clergymen in temples. Though the DMK claims to be a celebration of agnostics, the authorities is taking eager curiosity in the administration of Hindu temples. Appointing ladies as clergymen is an initiative to empower them.
More modifications are on the playing cards. Temple land in the state has been leased out on low leases. The Hindu spiritual & charitable endowments (HR&CE) division has printed title paperwork associated to over 350,000 acres of temple land on its web site. The strategy of retrieving the steadiness temple land is underway. A large drive has been launched to establish temple properties in city areas, evict encroachers and fence the premises. This shall be adopted by a differential GPS survey with a purpose to digitise each inch of temple property and add it on the official web site.
Observers level out that the HR&CE division itself wants overhaul as its inefficiency has put cultural heritage in danger. Idols have been stolen and not less than 6,414 of the 40,000-odd temples in the state are broken. The division doesn’t have any stock on the idols, its jewels and different property. The Madras High Court lately directed the division to streamline the technology and use of funds, and forestall idol thefts.
The division administers over 38,000 temples, of which greater than 34,000 have an annual revenue of lower than Rs 10,000. They are depending on the state. Stalin has promised to offer Rs 1,000 crore for temple renovation.