The Tamil Nadu Assembly session began on April 6 to discuss and pass grants for the different departments of the government. On the first day, Chief Minister MK Stalin announced that the state intends to attract maximum foreign investments.
Stalin said his recent visit to the UAE fetched an investment to the tune of Rs 6,100 crore and will generate employment for 15,100 people. The state also signed an MoU with Taiwan-based Hong Fu group this week worth Rs 1,000 crore to manufacture footwear in Tamil Nadu.
To bring a lasting solution to repeated floods that Chennai and its neighbouring districts face, the government unveiled a mitigation programme worth Rs 434 crores.
The assembly also discussed the Supreme Court’s cancellation of the 10.5% quota for the Vanniyar community in jobs and education, calling it "unconstitutional". Stalin said that the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government would ensure the reservation by presenting appropriate data.
In another instance of caste-based violence in Ranipet district, the husband of a Dalit woman panchayat president in Arakkonam was brutally attacked by a group of people from the Vanniyar community on April 1.
NewsClick brings you a round-up of the happenings this week.
PUSH FOR ALTERNATE EDUCATION
After opposing National Education Policy (NEP) 2020, the Tamil Nadu government on April 5 constituted a 13-member panel to evolve its own State Education Policy (SEP). The panel, composed of Chess champion Vishwanath Anand, musician T M Krishna and others, would submit its recommendations within a year.
Denouncing the Common University Entrance Examination (CUET) for central universities, Stalin, on April 6, dubbed the proposed exam as ‘regressive’ and ‘undesirable’ and urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to withdraw the move to hold the national-level test.
In line with the state’s history of opposing Hindi as a third language, Stalin reacted to Union home minister Amit Shah’s statement that Hindi should be accepted as an alternative to English, saying that it would wreck the nation’s integrity.
PROPERTY TAX HIKED, OPPN PROTESTS
The Tamil Nadu government on April 2 increased the property tax in various corporations, municipalities and panchayats to the range of 25-150%.
Condemning the move, the opposition party in the state, All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK), held a protest in Chennai on April 5. It cited the DMK’s election manifesto that promised no property tax hike until the economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is overcome.
Members of AIADMK protesting property tax hike. Image courtesy: ANI
Municipal administration minister KN Nehru said the state would have lost several thousand crores of the central grants had the state not notified the property tax revision as per the 15th finance commission and the directive of the Union government.
MATCHBOX WORKERS STRIKE
Employees engaged in the matchbox industry in Tamil Nadu began a 12-day strike, starting on April 6, to protest the sharp increase in raw materials.
Over five lakh workers are employed in the industry, and the workforce comprises 90% women. The matchbox industry is primarily based in Thoothukudi and Virudhunagar districts, and the strike is expected to create a production loss of around Rs 6 crore every day.
NURSES DEMAND RECRUITMENT
Contract nurses, who were recruited through the Medical Services Recruitment Board (MRB) for COVID-19 duty in 2020, staged a demonstration on April 4 against the termination of their services.
Tamil Nadu Health Minister Ma Subramanian has assured the striking nurses that the government would recruit them as and when vacancies arise.
STUDENTS OPPOSE EXAM FEE HIKE
Students across various colleges of the Bharathidasan University staged a protest against the three-fold increase in exam fees. Apart from the exam fee, the university has hiked several other fees, and it has become a burden on the students.
Students protest exam fee hike at Bharathidasan University. Image courtesy: SFI, Tamil Nadu sss
The Students’ Federation of India (SFI) announced a relay protest if the university fails to withdraw the hike.
PROTEST AGAINST DALIT STUDENT SUICIDE
The suicide of S Subhashini, a first-year physiotherapy student belonging to a Scheduled Caste category, led to a week-long protest against a private group of colleges in Nagapattinam for harassing her inability to pay fees.
Only on the seventh day after her death, on April 5, Subashini's family relented to collect her body after receiving promises of fair legal proceedings against the college staff.
FUEL PRICE HIKE PROTESTS
The Congress party, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and several other groups held protests across the state condemning fuel price hikes.
There were several other protests on ongoing issues in the state.
Bullock-cart workers held a demonstration on April 5 in Tanjore demanding the safeguarding of their livelihoods by allotting sand quarries.
Show owners and workers in Trichy Chathiram Bus Terminus held an agitation on April 4 against the local body’s notice asking them to shut shots. Similarly, on April 7, shopkeepers in Yercaud, Salem district, protested condemning the Highways department’s move to dispose of road-side shops.