Tamil Nadu's Chief Minister and AIADMK General Secretary, J. Jayalalitha, who passed away on December 5, 2016, has left behind a rich legacy in the form of welfare schemes that are geared towards the development of the people of the state.
These populists schemes undoubtedly has transformed the actress turned politician Jayalalitha into iconic status and branded her as Amma (mother) one who is worthy of worship.
With her demise, Jayalalitha has left behind a rich legacy of populists schemes that have a message that the panacea of the development of the country lies in the development of the ordinary people. The departed Tamil Nadu Chief Minister by effectively implementing her popular schemes has laid the pathway how India can develop by developing its people.
Some argue that populist schemes may have short term benefits but in the long run it may be harmful due to diversion of funds that are essential for development of infrastructure and overall growth of the state.
Silencing her critiques Jayalalithaa has been able to sustain the economic growth of the state and at the same time bore the economic burden caused by her populists' schemes. She has demonstrated that how populist schemes could usher people's welfare when it comes through active involvement of the government.
It is to the credit of the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalitha that she has put Tamil Nadu in the category of the most developed state in the country.
It is also to her credit to launch a whopping number of populist schemes with the brand name ‘Amma' whose product or service is either free or heavily subsidized.
The schemes have cost the state exchequer but have benefitted crores of people as it helped in meeting the day-to-day needs and necessities of the common man especially the women, children and most marginalized people in the State.
The large turnout of the people at Jayalalitha's funeral reflects her personal popularity, charisma vis-à-vis the people of the state who came out to pay their obeisance to the departed soul. The surging crowd was a referendum on those very populist schemes and freebies that their departed leader had doled out for them and its benefits had reached the intended beneficiaries.
These popular schemes help us to understand how such interventionist method can help in developing the ordinary people of the state and it also provides the rationale how a popular film star can become even more popular politician and finally end up being hailed as ‘Amma' or mother by the masses of Tamil Nadu.
Here is a bird's eye view of those schemes that Jayalalitha initiated under her rule.
Special Amma Camps: Amma camps were opened up in the rural areas where government officials visit villages and solve their grievances of the public at their doorstep. The dates were announced in advance through public broadcast systems.
Amma Service Centre: The local bodies at Amma service center on every Wednesday would issue birth and death certificates, trade licenses, ration cards, drinking water and sewage connections, permission for building etc.
Amma Mobile Phone Scheme: Under this scheme free mobile phones were given to about 20,000 Self Help Grup trainers mostly women with special Tamil software to help them supervise the SHG workers.
Amma Cement: Tamil Nadu Civil Supplies Corporation through retail outlet would sell Amma Cement for as little as Rs. 190 a bag of 50 kg. Under this scheme those eligible will be able to procure a maximum of 750 bags for new house constructions and 100 bags for renovations. Over one-lakh bags of 'Amma Cement' weighing about 5,000 metric tonne was sold across the state in just 15 days of the launch of the scheme.
Farm fresh vegetable shops: Subsidized farm fresh vegetable shops have been opened for the common man who suffers from frequent price increases of vegetables. The cooperative fair price vegetable shops sell farm-fresh vegetables in cities at low costs.
Free Mixie, Grinder & Fan: As an election promises, the AIADMK government distributed mixie, grinder & fan free of cost to the poor. It also opened exclusive centers for repair and maintenance of these electric items.
Amma Theatre scheme: Under this scheme U-certified Tamil films will be screened in corporation-run theatres for as low as Rs. 10 per ticket.
Chennai Small Bus scheme: Small bus schemes help commuters to travel to nearby railway stations and bus stations without depending on Auto rickshaws and call taxis. It covers areas where MTC buses do not operate.
Amma Water: Bottled mineral water with the brand name Amma Mineral Water is sold at about INR 10 a litre. Under the scheme around 200 water kiosks are functioning in Chennai city alone, which would supply potable water through vending machines. Here up to 20 litres of drinking water per family per is supplied.
Fish Stall in Chennai: The Tamil Nadu Fish Development Council launched Amma Fish stalls in many key locations in Chennai where Fish is sold at a subsidized rate.
Internet for Every Household scheme: The government's broadband internet scheme was offered to every household at affordable cost through the state-owned Arasu Cable TV Corporation Limited.
Amma Call Centre: Amma call center is people's security scheme. It is actually a public grievance cell with toll-free number 1100. Grievance can be registered here and the details given by the callers will be sent to officials concerned and the caller would be informed about the officer, handling the complaint and further the action taken on it.
Amma micro loans scheme: This scheme was launched to provide micro loans for small traders who can avail loan upto Rs.5, 000 from banks and the government will pay the interest. They can repay it as little as Rs. 200 a week. Those who pay on time are eligible for higher loans upto Rs. 25,000.
Amma Seeds: Under this scheme certified, high-quality Amma seeds are made available for free to the farmers across the state. The Tamil Nadu State Seeds Development Agency that implements the scheme also provides subsidized kits for the urban folks to cultivate vegetable farming in smaller land and roof-tops.
Amma Canteens are a chain of highly subsidized government run canteens that allow the common man to procure quality food at very cheap prices (Rs 13 for two meals). This was the most popular food security scheme for the poor. Amma canteens are maintained by women Self Help Groups (SHG).
Free 20 Kg rice scheme: In order to provide food security of the poor Amma has made 20 kg of rice to be distributed free to them via the ration stores.
Amma salt: Amma salt comes in three variations — Double Fortified Salt, Refined Free Flow iodized Salt and Low Sodium Salt and are distributed through government-run PDS outlets.
Monthly Pension for Transgender: Transgender who live in abject poverty and primarily survive on begging has been given monthly pension to make easy their life.
The Cradle baby scheme: This scheme was launched during 1991-96, to check female feticide and gender-based abortions rampant in certain districts. It allowed mothers to anonymously hand over their new-born children to the government, which would take care of them or give them for adoptions.
Amma baby care kits: Every mother who gave birth to her child at a government hospital gets 16 types of baby-products worth Rs. 1000 for free. The kit comes as a carry bag and contains a baby towel, dress, bed, mosquito net, napkin, baby oil, baby soap, bath soap, soap box, liquid sanitizer, nail cutter, rattle, doll, and ‘Sowbhaghya Legiyam' (a medicinal preparation to improve mother's health).
Amma Master Health Check-up: The is a set of three health checkup schemes i) Amma Master Health Check- up, ii) Amma Special Master Health Check-up Scheme for Women and ii) Amma Arokia Thittam – for those who cannot afford regular health screening tests. The cost of the check-up is one-fifth of what private screening centres offer.
Amma Pharmacies: The AIADMK government rolled out over a hundred pharmacies in Chennai and other districts where medicines are sold at a discount of about 15 percent over market price. The pharmacies are open all through the week from 7 am to 11 pm.
Amma Medi-claim: This is a comprehensive health insurance scheme is popularly known as Amma medi-claim, under which the sum assured for each family is Rs.1 lakh per annum for a total period of four years. The cost of tests required for treatment would also be part of the insurance cover.
'Amma Marriage Halls': Under this scheme "Amma Marriage Halls" are built at 11 locations in the state.
‘Gold for marriage' scheme: The scheme gives four grams of gold and cash upto Rs.50, 000 to economically-backward women who have completed their degree or diploma.
Distribution of Free Text Books: All students of Standards I to XII studying in Government schools are being supplied with text books, free of cost by the Government.
Distribution of free Bicycles: Every year, free Bicycles are distributed to class XI students studying in Government Schools.
Free Uniforms: Free uniforms are being given to students of I to VIII who are enrolled in the noon meal scheme.
Free Bus Pass scheme: Free Bus passes in the shape of smart cards is issued to all school and college students traveling in Government buses.
Cash Prize for Top Rankers: As per this scheme, the first three top rankers in the Higher Secondary Examination with Tamil medium are awarded cash prizes Rs 50, 000, Rs 30,000 and Rs 20,000. Similarly, the first three top rankers in the X Board Examination with Tamil medium were also awarded cash prize of 25,000, 20, 000 and 15,000. Moreover, subject wise top rankers (first rankers) at the state level in both the X Board Examination and the XII Board Examination are given cash awards
Free Laptops for Students: Under the scheme for higher-secondary and college students studying in government and aided institutions are given free laptops. Free laptops are given to students who have acquired a certain percentage in school and college examinations. The laptop distribution scheme was planned with the motive of encouraging digital education among students from a very early stage.
Girls' Incentive Scheme: To prevent dropouts of SC/ST girl students, the IX Standard unmarried SC/ST girls of age, less than 16 years are provided with a fixed deposit certificate for Rs.3000/-
Financial Assistance for Students lacking Parental Support: This scheme is meant for the students whose bread winning parent (father or mother) dies in an accident or is rendered permanently incapacitated will get Rs.50, 000. The amount will be deposited in the name of the student in Tamil Nadu Power Finance Corporation and the interest amount will be spent on the educational needs of the child.
- By Syed Ali Mujtaba