Indian religion

tamil nadu: Tamil Nadu democratized religion more than 100 years ago… hard on radicalism: FM Palanivel Thiagarajan

Tamil Nadu Finance Minister Palanivel Thiagarajan said aggressive Hindutva would be hard pressed to take shape in a state like Tamil Nadu because the state democratized religion over a hundred years ago and its core value systems will not be disrupted by any form of radicalism.

He also said that the DMK government under the leadership of Chief Minister MK Stalin would seek to attract investment into the state from all over the world and would also endeavor to accommodate employers who may want to transfer their businesses from Karnataka to Tamil Nadu due to growing communal tensions in Karnataka. .

Thiagarajan said at the recent GST Council meeting that he had flagged concerns about “flaws: the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax and the Union Government’s ‘increasing control’ over institutions which he said would lead to “disastrous consequences for the country”.

Tamil Nadu is monitoring events in Karnataka as every threat must be taken seriously, the state finance minister has said. “There is huge interest (from IT companies wanting to diversify into Tamil Nadu), and we are already in the running. There are people who are actively raising this issue with us and our government is working on it,” he said. -he declares.

He said Tamil Nadu has witnessed a 53% increase in investment and to attract financial investors and businesses, the state government will hold events in different countries over the next six months. “If we invest one rupee in capital investment, we want to match that with outside investment,” he said.

Stalin, who was in Delhi last week to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman recently, traveled to Dubai to meet business leaders and, according to a government statement, memorandums of deal worth Rs 6,100 crore has been signed which could lead to 14,000 jobs in Tamil Nadu.

Although the BJP is aggressively trying to increase its penetration in Tamil Nadu, Thiagarajan, who comes from a family closely linked to Dravidian politics for more than four generations, said the state poses the biggest challenge to expansion of Hindutva. “If Tamil Nadu transforms Hindutva, it will be the last nail for our secular democracy and so I don’t think it will ever happen. Tamil Nadu is the most pious state in the country and it is not because of Hindutva but because we democratized the religion a long time ago,” he said. “Anyone can be a temple administrator here, anyone can build a temple and take care of it. We solved these problems over a hundred years ago. Recent archaeological discoveries about our culture are over 3,000 years old and we have always been opposed to any form of radicalism.”

Warning that bad policies could have a lasting impact on the country, he said countries like Turkey and Sri Lanka have paid the price and are examples for others to learn from. Subverting institutions can have extreme long-term consequences, as the absence of debate and consensus would also mean there is little chance of course correction, he said. “Look at Sri Lanka. They have controlled everything without a feedback mechanism or the possibility of course correction and therefore find themselves in this dire situation. If jobs are created and growth is assured, authoritarianism can persist for an extended period, but when this does not happen, it causes problems for the regime.

The Minister, who has consistently raised issues of federalism in the past, pointed to concerns related to the implementation of the GST.

“The Union government wants to control everything, from dams, ports, transportation, education and everything else. There is an increasing concentration of power in the hands of those who have proven they cannot achieve results with it, and a continuing reduction of power in the hands of those who could have done something with it but cannot. ‘have more power,’ he said, adding that there are at least 19 state-enacted pieces of legislation awaiting approval by the governor or the Union government. ‘State was elected to make laws, but they won’t let us do that,’ he said.

The execution of the GST, he said, is flawed. “There are consequences for the central control of power because there is little room for precise results, comments and course correction. The board is the arbiter. Why are the technical details not communicated to us? “Bureaucrats aren’t accountable to people, ministers are. When I asked in December, it wasn’t even clear who the members of the committee were,” Thiagarajan said.

“It seems like it was done just to match the slogan and the bait and not to deliver results. The results should be reassuring. Almost every flaw in the system now, I can trace back to bad policy since 2014. Enforcement should not be double-edged, part being done by the Union and the rest by the State,” a- he declared. “There’s a lot of streamlining to be done and the systems need to be fixed, because you clearly have to look at tariffs on toothbrushes, textiles used by ordinary people and something like diamonds…Data sharing needs to be fixed both by the Union and the States do not know what each other is doing.

“The problem is that we are all part time and no one is working full time. We need a much more robust full-time secretariat working for the implementation of the GST. Without waiting for the Syndicate to act, we set up our own advisory committee headed by senior counsel Arvind Datar. We fund it ourselves and will report regularly to the GST board. Nearly Rs 20 lakh crore of revenue can come from the GST, but the flaws need to be fixed and the Union needs to listen to the states for that,” the Tamil Nadu finance minister said.

Regarding the fuel price hike, for which the Center blamed the war in Ukraine, the minister said the timing of the hike was suspicious, as the government kept petrol and diesel prices stable throughout national elections. Asking states to cut taxes is not fair, he said, because they have limited direct taxing power. “When you continue to rely on indirect taxes, it is natural for oil prices to rise. Bad government fiscal policy is to blame for this. Fuel prices are input costs for farmers and fishers and all industries, and the consequences can be very serious,” he said.

Regarding the culture of free and social protection policies, the Minister of Finance said that it was important to understand the social context in which DMK decided to give away free televisions. “Kalaignar (late TN CM M Karunanidhi) in 2006 with his free televisions wanted to convey a powerful social message that a poor man’s child will not have to watch a rich man’s television through the window . It was a unique thing. This year we have made a conscious decision not to put in place a seemingly perverse program to only encourage marriage, but we will encourage higher education for girls,” he said.

Thiagarajan said the state government’s decision to offer free bus transportation to women is also an attempt to work on the government’s stated intention to increase women’s participation in the labor force and to correct the non-participation of 52% in the labor force, the majority of which is made up of women. . “Every year we will continue to increase programs in this regard,” he said, adding that the state government also planned to encourage women to stay in college and join the hand. – non-domestic work.

He said that if it is fair to take from the rich states to give to the poor, there should be visible economic convergence after 15-20 years of such transfers, which is not happening in India. “And that’s because we don’t encourage the behavior that can close the gap. Universal education and empowerment of women are primarily important, if we don’t ensure those two, the gap between states like Bihar, where the average education is the primary school drop-out, and Tamil Nadu, where it is a high school graduate, will never be corrected”.

Reforms in the 1990s allowed Tamil Nadu to accelerate because the state could rely on infrastructure since it already had a pool of talent and English speakers, Thiagarajan said. “Ironically, while the reforms have dramatically increased India’s wealth, they have also increased the disparity between states,” he said.

It seems difficult for the AIADMK to revive itself as the party has “sold its soul to the BJP” and will pay the consequences for the years to come, he said, adding that while some alienated people who yearn at a time when they had the most power, formed fertile WhatsApp ground for the BJP, the party may struggle to grow in the state.

Religious norms are not set in stone and they change all the time, Thiagarajan said, “When my grandfather (PT Rajan) brought the idol of deity Ayyappan from Sabarimala, which he had made, to Madurai, before let it be consecrated, hardcore The traditionalists protested because they said it would defile the Madurai Meenakshi temple There was a debate around the lotus pond in Madurai and my grandfather argued that all gods are the same,” he said.

“Some of the people even refused to come to the temple and set up a different temple on the street, but the debate in a few years has revolved around how Meenakshi is really more powerful to be defiled by anything else… In a society like ours, it is difficult to introduce this kind of radicalism,” he added.