On the anniversary of the DMK government completing one year in office, the hopes from the government are sky high. Chief Minister MK Stalin, who had promised to put Tamil Nadu on a new trajectory of growth, had a tall order ahead of him as he assumed the office at a tumultuous time in the State’s history. On one hand, he had taken the reins of steering the State when we were battling the second wave of the pandemic. On the other, he was faced with a State whose finances were in the doldrums.
The Chief Minister and his government must be applauded for the manner in which they managed the COVID-19 crisis, going as far as proposing to forge alliances with global vaccine-makers when the Centre seemingly ran short of vaccines.
Keeping in mind the promises made in the poll manifesto, the DMK has slowly ensured it follows up on the most pressing issues. On getting the State exemption from NEET, the government has not shied away from confronting the Governor and Centre. The Chief Minister has also mooted the idea forming All India Federation of Social Justice, aimed at bringing together parties from across India to battle the divisive rhetoric in India’s political narrative.
A few bold measures like the formation of an economic think tank spearheaded by Finance Minister Palanivel Thiaga Rajan and including the likes of economists Esther Duflo, Jean Dreze, Arvind Subramanian, Raghuram Rajan, is another imaginative initiative. We might have to wait a little longer to comprehend the effect of such a confluence of brilliant minds.
The government has also been focussing more on developing the soft power of brand Tamil Nadu, through the Tamil language. There is an increased attention to the development of learning and research centres for Tamil. Education has been a lynchpin of governance as schemes such as Illam Thedi Kalvi and televised lessons for school students to tide over pandemic-led losses in academics were also appreciated.
This is not to say that the DMK government hasn’t had its challenges in this new year in office. A few promises are yet to be met, including the monthly provision of Rs 1,000 to homemakers, a point raised by members of Opposition parties. Questions regarding the change of billing dates of Tangedco from ‘once in two months’ to ‘once in a month’ to ease the financial burden on citizens is also in a state of logjam. There’s also the more serious issue of custodial deaths, which has prompted the government to take a harder look at law enforcement personnel, and issue instruction that suspects should not be detained at police station during night hours.
Rampant power cuts in many districts, including Chennai, and the potential dismantling of Amma Unavagams are the other pain points. Sri Lanka facing a severe economic crisis is an important issue, the fallout of which is the refugee influx into Tamil Nadu.
One year might be too short a timeline to have a 360-degree analysis on how the Stalin government has attempted to put things back in order in Tamil Nadu. However, it is an essential place-marker considering the transformations witnessed during the period. Every change should herald a better tomorrow, and it is with great expectations that people here aspire that the most essential changes be carried out sooner rather than the later.