Ad Here  
JOBLESS GROWTH AND BORDER CHALLENGES.... Why no MEGA Central investments in Dravidian Party rule? Two welcome indications on chief minister’s recovery Platinum years of engineering innovation, building skills... New Chennai Terminal: Next regional hub The king goes fishing while the kingdom is besieged Delay in Neo delivery hurts IndiGo The real hero in India’s battle against black money PR Person Par Excellence The war against BLACK FAREWELL-RBI AUTONOMY Metro Rail in Chennai, High Expectations The opportunity to grow is here. Seize it. MYSORE - INDIA'S CLEANEST CITY An eventful week with VVIPs of Delhi Multi-party contests, more freebies... Women can up GDP by 26 per cent! Power Problems Powerful Problems Jaya Walks Into the Sunset OPS Rises MEGA MERGERS...... Cho Ramaswamy – Multifaceted TATA STEEL MARCH DHO saal baad Jio Beta Jio Tamil Nadu : 50 Years of Dravidian Rule Nuggets on MGR at Brooklyn Hospital Tragedy in the making Algebra to algorithms and analytics - a maths marvel at Siruseri More than just number crunchers... Negative photo finish: Mauled by competition, HPF on the block When the setting itself becomes the protagonist Know the Pulse When the judiciary is hyper active… Research for results - A unique industry-institute collaboration Recalling the birth of Mobile Bonanza in locked lands NEWS SUMMARIES Silver Years of Madras Musings Dangal – Breaking all barriers Nutri grains vs staples -The dogma within! Welcome focus on Disinvestment Union Budget 2017- It says, let’s continue life the way we live Time to Indianise reforms Plummeting profits of PSBs Creating an innovative society Technology revolution that’ll be disruptive... The myth and malaise of MRP PSUs - Stem the rot before mergers The 3 Loves of RT Winds of change Nissan exit shouldn’t affect ALL TOP 15 NEWS THIS WEEK Matchless at 70 In Law WE TRUST; Everything else WE AUDIT Welcome Measures. Work for 10X Change Salem steel plant faces brittle future Trail-blazing Tamil Nadu New steel policy: Minimum government, maximum intervention? India bites the BULLET
Jaya Walks Into the Sunset OPS Rises
Ever since the Dravidian parties captured power in Tamil Nadu 50 years ago, we have had matinee idols as chief ministers. These men and woman were charismatic: C N Annadurai, M G Ramachandran, K Karunanidhi and J Jayalalithaa not only had an incredible mass following, they also knew how to squeeze every ounce out of it. Both the legendary Anna and the indefatigable Kalaignar were soul-stirring writers and powerful orators. Puratchi Thalaivar carefully cultivated a super do-gooder image through his movies and Amma built an outstanding reputation by her various welfare schemes over which women swooned.

In a swift midnight action reminiscent of palace coups, O Panneerselvam (aka OPS) the trusted lieutenant of the now demised Jayalalithaa, took over as chief minister for the third time.  Only that this time, it is unlikely to be a stop-gap arrangement.  At the funeral, OPS, the man who had begun life selling tea, appeared to be the one person who hadn’t yet come to terms with the departure of a giant.  Prime Minister Modi, hugging a sobbing chief minister at the footsteps of the Rajaji Hall, and consoling him with the words, “anytime, on any issue, feel free; we are with you,” should be of great comfort. 

The change of guard naturally demands a change in approach. For now, OPS does not have the charisma, the resoluteness, and decisiveness of Jayalalithaa. Amma was a different genre, came from a different background with sack-load of accomplishments and could stare at any prime minister eyeball to eyeball. She was made of sterner stuff with a different background in her achievements and reputation earned in films. The ill treatment suffered by her, first at the hands of MGR, after his demise at the hands of party-men and still later by the DMK steeled her resolve. I was present at the assembly on 25 March 1989 when she was mauled badly by several DMK legislators that hardened her: she swore to return to the Assembly as chief minister and she did in 1991! 

In a way, this move away from mass based leaders who consolidated power and neglected essential features of democracy is welcome. 

It is thus a godsend opportunity for OPS to revert to the Kamaraj-type of governance. If he develops a compact cabinet of clean, competent and efficient ministers and allows the civil service to function impartially and independently, he would go down in history as one of the finest heads of government.  He would develop his own charisma and emerge as a leader from out of the shadows of Amma. 


Corruption to the fore...

Jayalalithaa’s rule, like that of her predecessor, focused on social welfare to the neglect of development and fiscal prudence. It wasn’t a sustainable model. Little wonder, the over-emphasis on welfare landed the finances of the state in dire straits. The emphasis on winning elections led to amassing wealth for the party and its leaders through unfair means. Over the last five decades Tamil Nadu has earned a notoriety for corruption, bribery and generation of illegal money. These have been institutionalized to the extent that would make it almost impossible to revert to legitimate means of administration. 

Look at the many cabinet changes effected by Jayalalithaa on complaints of corruption.  Agriculture minister S S Krishnamoorthy was sacked on charges of corruption. Income tax officials launched a search operation on the premises of the properties owned by former state power minister Natham R Viswanathan. Within hours he was divested of his position as minister of electricity. A probe on the plaint alleging bribery charges against former Transport Minister V Senthil Balaji is on.  And to top it all, Rama Mohana Rao, the chief secretary, has been sacked following a raid at his house and office that threw up unsubstantiated wealth.   Things haven’t sounded so venal after UPA-2 demitted office. 

Luckily there are 54 months of the remaining term of the Assembly in which AIADMK commands a comfortable majority. OPS should run a clean administration. In this, the focus should be on the accountability of the civil service for performance through time bound responses to public needs. In this schema penalty should be imposed for sitting over files. 


Crass abuse of power...

I cite three instances of the havoc caused by such an attitude.

* The head of a manufacturing company narrated this experience a few weeks ago after 8 November.  The company applied for permission for additional power load. The file was kept pending at a senior engineer’s office at TANGEDCO, with the officer demanding Rs. 30 lakh. The company did not respond. The officer was due for retirement that month. Three days before the R-day he offered to reduce the speed money to Rs. 20 lakh and a day before to Rs. 10 lakh. On the day of retirement, he was frantic and was willing to settle for a much lower retirement gift!

* In a second instance, an entrepreneur applied to the town planner for permission to build an additional 50,000 square feet for his expansion needs. The Planner sat on the file and demanded Rs 20 lakh for clearing it. The file didn’t move. There was no pressure of retirement and thus there was not much scope for any reduction.

* A third example is that of an exporter who described  the demand at the Madras port for speed money for quick loading of the container. It costs him Rs. 3 lakh per month to ensure this. What if he refused? The official threatened to force open the container to check the content. This process may entail indefinite delay and upset the delivery schedule for an American OE manufacturer.

If only the concerned officials are imposed penalties for not responding to applications within the stipulated time, there would be less scope for corruption. But they still have the power to raise several queries  and return the file!

The Centre has been focusing on transparency and time-bound responses. This has kept Delhi free from delays in sanctions and corruption. It should be possible for OPS to bring in such a system to the state’s administration as well.

The state has a compelling reason to attract investments to expand employment and record growth. These have all fallen in recent years pushing the state far behind in the index for ease of doing business and far ahead in corruption. If this state of affairs continues, the deterioration can be even more rapid.

1 2 3 4 5
Author :
Reported On :
Sector :
Shoulder :
IE, the business magazine from south was launched in 1968 and pioneered business journalism in south. Through the 45 years IE has been focusing on well-presented and well-researched articles. When giants in the industry stumbled to keep pace with the digital revolution, IE stayed affixed embracing technology.
Read more
Economist Communications Ltd is committed to ensuring that your privacy is protected.
Read more
You agree that your use of this Website and the purchase of the magazine will be governed by these terms and conditions.
Read more
S-15, Industrial Estate,
Chennai - 600 032.
PHONE: +91 44 22501236