Assembly gears up for diamond jubliee today

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The Tamil Nadu Legislat­i­ve Assembly has a fascinating history that goes back se­veral more years than the completion of 60 years of the state Assembly in a free India, that is being celebrated in a grand manner on Friday. Legislative history goes back 151 years to 1861 when the Madras Leg­i­slat­ive Cou­n­cil was set up as a non-representative body.

The year 1937 is also historically important as C. Ra­j­agopalachari became the first elected chief minister of the Madras Presi­de­n­cy as well as its first non-elected CM in 1952. A man of acerbic wit and fabled me­ntal acuity, he was quite a figure of history to live up to.

The quality of the debates may have come down. Its id­i­om itself may have cha­n­g­ed with the arrival of the Dr­av­i­dian parties in power 45 ye­a­rs ago. But the Tam­i­ls al­w­a­ys prided themsel­v­es in th­e­ir oratorical skills and to see a couple of political vete­r­a­ns cross swords in the As­s­e­mbly in chaste Tamil rh­e­t­oric was the stu­ff of legend among report­e­rs who cover­ed the proce­e­d­ings, pres­i­ded over the ye­a­rs by a ga­laxy of Speak­e­rs, in great de­tail in days of yore.

The current CM can hold her own in an ex­a­l­t­ed comp­any of the cr­e­am of legislato­rs whose op­i­n­ions and sp­e­e­c­hes echo­ed in the halls, be it in any of the sev­en venues that have been used since 1921 and now, of wh­ich the ass­e­m­bly hall in Fort St Ge­o­­r­ge is easily the most prest­i­gious venue, the burnished wood and rich le­a­ther ambience having inspired many an elected representative.

Milestone resolutions

As the Tamil Nadu Assembly celebrates its diamond jubilee it is confronted by hostile neighbours unwilling to share water with the state. The ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka and also the recurring attacks on Tamil Nadu fishermen have made the Assembly to pass epoch-making resolutions in recent times.

In mid-December, 2011, a special session of the Assembly passed a unanimous resolution urging the Kerala government to increase the water level in the dam to 142 feet as per Supreme Court order and demanded the Centre to deploy the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) at the Mullaiperiyar dam site.

Earlier in June 2011, the Assembly passed a resolution asking the state revenue department asked to implead itself to retrieve Katchatheevu island from Sri Lanka. The resolution, moved by chief minister J. Jayalalithaa cited the Supreme Court’s ruling in 1960 in the Berubari case that any agreement on the cession of Indian territory to another country should be ratified by Parliament through an amendment of the Constitution.

In August last year, the Tamil Nadu Assembly adopted an unanimous resolution asking the President to reconsider mercy petitions of three death row convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. The resolution appealed to the President to commute the death sentences of Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan into life sentences.

The Assembly on June 8, 2011, passed a resolution urging the Government of India to take up the issue of war crimes with the United Nations and to declare those found guilty of war crimes against Tamils as war criminals. The resolution had also demanded that India work alongside other nations to impose an economic embargo on Sri Lanka until Tamils living in post-war camps were fully rehabilitated and given equal Constitutional rights on a par with the Sinhalese.

11% growth rate for TN

The state government has initiated measures to achieve higher growth rate of 11% or more per annum – about 20 % more than the expected growth rate of India’s GDP, in the next 11 years.

Given the expected increase in population of 15 % over the next 11 years, the increase in per capita income would amount to 6 times over this period. During 2005-2006, Tamil Nadu clocked an impressive growth rate of 13.95 % and the Manufacturing Sector registered an all time high growth rate of 15.10%. Although this growth momentum decelerated in subsequent years, there is no reason to believe that we cannot reclaim the high growth path. “I am confident that Tamil Nadu will be able to increase its per capita income at today’s prices by 6 times to reach 4,50,000 rupees or 10,000 US dollars in 2023, in line with the per capita income of Upper Middle Income countries,” chief minister J. Jayalalithaa has said while releasing the Vision document.

Along with a high rate of economic growth, Vision 2023 also seeks to simultaneously reduce inequality of incomes across the State. BY 2023, piped and pressurised water would be provided to all citizens and 100 % of them would have access to safe sanitation before the end of 2023. Open defecation will be completely eliminated and TN will transform into a slum free and hut free Tamil Nadu.

The Vision 2023 envisages training and equipping 20 million persons with skills over the next 11 years among the other things besides developing ten world class cities in Tamil Nadu which will become the nuclei and engines of economic growth, thereby facilitating regional and balanced development across the State.

The government has projected an overall investment requirement of `15 lakh crore and as the government cannot meet the resource requirements, a substantial portion of the financing for infrastructure would be mobilised from non-governmental sources, including private sector organisations, banks, and foreign direct investment.

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