Specials

Where she scored, where she didn’t

M Ramesh Chennai | Updated on January 16, 2018

As Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for 16 of the past 25 years, Jayalalithaa stamped her authority in many aspects of governance. And although she bettered the State’s record on several indices of human development, her performance in a few other areas was not quite as creditable.

First, the positives. When Jayalalitha wrested control of the State from her arch rival, the DMK, in 2011, the State was reeling under severe electricity shortage. Her victory that year arguably came on the strength of her promise to set right that failing.

It’s fair to say that she delivered on that promise: in fact, her biggest success by far may have been on the power front. The ‘load-generation balancing’ report for 2016-17 of the Central Electricity Authority expects Tamil Nadu to score an energy surplus of 11.2 per cent and peak time surplus of 4.8 per cent: these represent a marked improvement over even last year, when the peak time deficit was 0.1 per cent.

Some massaging of numbers might underlie that data point — the State is not fully supplied — but there is no denying that the situation has improved hugely from 2011.

And although there have been no big-ticket investments such as those of Hyundai, Ford and St Gobain (as happened during Jayalalitha’s first term as the Chief Minister, which kicked-off the second round of industrialisation), the State’s GDP grew by 29 per cent between 2010-11 and 2014-15. Per capita income grew (at 2004-05 prices) from ₹53,507 to ₹66,635.

Poor record on jobs

But despite these rosy numbers, data put out by the Centre government in August 2015 indicate that employment generation in Tamil Nadu has been skewed. The Employment-Unemployment Survey 2015-16, released in September, showed that Tamil Nadu fared better than the national average in urban unemployment, but not so in rural unemployment. The urban unemployment rate (persons per 1,000 of workforce) was 35, against the all-India rate of 44; but the rural unemployment rate in Tamil Nadu was 39, against versus 34 all IndiaIndia. The data also shows that Tamil Nadu fared worse than most other large States, including Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Haryana.

The numbers from the Survey are in line with an earlier set of data furnished by the Ministry of Labour in response to a Parliament question. The message is the same. Tamil Nadu has to pull up its socks in addressing unemployment, particularly in the rural areas.

Data provided by the National Family Health Survey 2015-16 show that Tamil Nadu fared relatively better on many social counts such as infant mortality rate (21 per 1,000 live births, against 30 in 2005-06), households with electricity (98.8 per cent), drinking water (90.6 per cent), clean fuel for cooking (73 per cent, against 31.4 per cent in 2005-06), male literacy (89 per cent) and female literacy (79.4 per cent). On all these counts, Tamil Nadu ranks among the top States in the country.

Crime rate

However, when it comes to crime, accidents and suicides, Tamil Nadu’s record is nothing to be proud of. In 2014, the State’s crime rate was the sixth-worst nationally, with 271 incidents per lakh of population; the only States to fare even worse were Kerala (723.2), Madhya Pradesh (348), Assam (321), Haryana (310) and Telangana(290).

Tamil Nadu also had the worse record in traffic accidents in 2014 (the latest year for which data is available from the National Crime Records Bureau). The State saw 69,095 traffic accidents, almost all of which were on roads, a big number of them on State highways. These resulted in 15,190 deaths.

The State ranked the second-highest in suicides, with 16,122 cases in 2014, behind than Maharashtra’s 16,307. Only two other States – West Bengal and Karnataka — had more than 10,000 suicides in the year.

These less-than-stellar performance areas perhaps represent something of an unfinished agenda that Jayalalitha’s successor in office may look to improve.

Published on December 06, 2016

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