Tamil Nadu

A Tamil boy’s reflection on all things Tamil
I am fascinated with Tamil politics & society. Incidentally, my Ph.D. looks at why Tamil Nadu performs relatively better than most other Indian states when it comes to provision of basic public services. As of now, there is a small selection of articles on Tamil Nadu spanning topics from government to cinema. Hopefully, this will grow with time…in the meanwhile, I hope you will enjoy this small selection.

In many villages, people had fought for decades to demand one amenity after another. As an activist put it, they would struggle one year and get 100 metres of road, street lights required another protest, and many basic amenities had to be gained through sustained collective action. The impact of such protests over time was to gain an impressive array of services. Such protests date back at most to the 1970s.

The root of TN’s commitment to services

My training in mainstream economics and my social background had convinced me that government programmes to address hunger were a waste of public resources. I adhered to the idea that they should be eliminated in favour of promoting economic growth. That changed in 2002 when I travelled to the Chambal Valley of Madhya Pradesh, which was suffering its third consecutive year of drought. Here is a short note on that transformation.

How I became interested in TN’s public services

There is almost an invariant formula for a Tamil television serial: a catchy title song with an amateurish dance, three units of sentiment, one unit of crying (with joy or sorrow), and one unit of suspense towards the end. The formula gets repeated at least ten times a day across television channels. Where is imagination? — The schizophrenia of the production houses between producing movies and television is fascinating. Women in Tamil television come through as strong, thinking, acting characters. The woman of the movies is typically a diva in trouble dependent on the hero to be rescued. Heroes have […]

Thoughts on Tamil television

Madras is one of those conservative cities that likes to keep its boys and girls at a safe distance. Parents clamour to get their children enrolled in colleges that are rather strict about this, and colleges have responded to this with enthusiasm. One famous college made a rule that girls will sit at the front of the college bus and boys behind and there will be a firewall of teachers in between. To counter this attraction other colleges have come up with separate roads and staircases inside the campus for boys and girls. In this context of competitive conservatism, I […]

Salsa in Madras: Social dance in a conservative city

When it comes to provision of basic amenities India performs badly by any account. Roads, electricity, water, schools, primary health, nutrition programmes, other amenities most basic to people today are poorly provided in most parts of India. Facilities that exist too are badly maintained and are often dysfunctional. While this is true by and large some states have performed exceptionally well. The famed example is Kerala whose education and health programmes have been remarkable. Another equally remarkable performer has been Tamil Nadu. The state has huge budgetary commitments for the social sector and most of these schemes also tend to […]

My dissertation question

Horray, Google News is now available in Tamil I have been a great fan of Google News for a few years now. So much so that I read most news starting here rather than through news papers or their websites. . A big lacuna with it was that Tamil news was not covered in this channel. With Google Seithigal, Tamil newspapers will be indexed and covered. Basic details about this service are available in its help section.  Here are a few additional tips. [ad#Medium rectangle] Searching Google Seithigal I do not understand why Google Seithigal does not have a facility […]

Google Seithigal: Google news in Tamil

T R Vishwanathan was one of the founding members of the communist movement in South Arcot District I met TRV for an interview two weeks ago. Though he was unwell and very old, he insisted on speaking to me. “I may have a heart attack and pass away anyday”, he said, “if I talk to you, you may take my message to more people”. We went on to have a delightful 4-hour discussion on his legacy. I am sad to say that he has passed away last night and will be cremated today. This post offers a short snap shots […]

Obituary to a great soul: T R Vishwanathan (TRV)

A little note on how Hariprasad Chaurasia’s concert left me between agony and ecstasy Hariprasad Chaurasia is a man who never disappoints. I have been mesmerised for a while in every performance of his and always.  Typically I walk out in a semi-trance with a feeling of ecstasy that only a great live music performance can give. I was thrilled to bits when I heard that Chaurasia is coming to Madras for a concert – and that too free. I took a seat by the aisle that was furthest away from humanity in that auditorium. He started with a slow […]

Dis-concert in Madras

Political parties do things in style, and the TN Budget of 2007-2008 was no exception.  Among other things, I found the last line of the budget speech interesting.  Along with the date in English (23 March 2007), it had a tamil date as Panguni-9, Thiruvalluvar Aandu 2038.  Till I read this I did not realise that there is something called Thiruvalluvar aandu – a good discovery from this year’s budget!

TN Budget trivia

Tamil Nadu has many significan policy success stories – in part due to getting the budgetary priorities right We are living in a time when positive media coverage of budget is restricted either to tax cuts or for reducing fiscal deficits. Despite the fact that enormous proportion of India’s GDP is spent by the government, media hardly discusses what governments spend on, and how.  State government budgets are crucial to national development given that states are in charge of important areas such as education, health, water, etc.  Given my interests, I have closely followed education, health, child care and a few […]

A chirpy note on TN budget 2007-08

The Tamil Nadu State budget 2007-2008 was presented on 23 March 2007 by Finance Minister Prof. K. Anbazhagan. This page has automatically generated news and analysis on the budget The budget related documents can be found in the website of Tamil Nadu government here.  The budget papers for this year have not been updated as yet in this site, but the budget speech can be read here. The webcast of the speech is available here.  The speech is conveiniently divided by sections, so incase you are interested in just one section (e.g. Tax, education, social welwafe, etc.), you can easily […]

Tamil Nadu state budget 2007-08: News & Analysis

“God bless mummy, god bless daddy, god bless teacher who will teach us, and make them happy”.  Standing in a perfect circle, at 10 am sharp, children chanted this prayer to start their activities of the day at the anganwadi. In the next five hours they would learn through play, have one nourishing meal, take a noon nap, and return home to their mother, who had the comfort of having her child taken care of for a significant part of her working day. Immediately after the prayer was a round of physical exercises, accompanied by poems created for the purpose. […]

An anganwadi in Tamil Nadu