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Tamil Nadu: Duflo, Rajan, Dreze Among 5-Member Economic Advisory Council to CM Stalin

Tamils, especially those who studied in Tamil medium and in government schools, would be given priority in recruitment for government posts and 69% reservation will continue and be protected, says government.
Raghuram Rajan, Esther Duflo and Jean Dreze

New Delhi: To pep up its debt-written economy balancing it with social welfare measures, the DMK-led Tamil Nadu government has set up a five-member economic advisory council to Chief Minister M K Stalin.

The members of the council include joint Nobel Economics prize winner Esther Duflo, former Reserve Bank governor Raghuram Rajan, development economist Jean Dreze, former Chief Economic Advisor to the NarendraModi government, Arvind Subramanian, and former Finance Secretary S Narayan, according to a notification issued on Monday.

The setting up of the economic advisory council was announced by Governor Banwarilal Purohit in his address to newly elected 16th Tamil Nadu Assembly on Monday.

The council has been tasked to provide general guidance on economic and social policy, social justice and human development-related issues, and in matters related to equal opportunities for women and well-being of underprivileged groups.

It will also make suggestions to boost growth, employment and productivity across all sectors, as well as act as a sounding board for ideas that might resolve roadblocks to development, according to NDTV.

"The fiscal situation of Tamil Nadu is precarious with persistent high revenue and fiscal deficits, and a large overhang of debt. At the same time, expectations of people are very high... that the Government will deliver on faster economic growth, social justice and equality...," the state said in its notification.

In his address, the governor also said that that a white paper on Tamil Nadu’s financial situation would be released next month, as announced earlier by state Finance Minister P Thiaga Rajan.

Days after chief minister Stalin met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi with a list of demands, the Governor said Tamil Nadu was fully committed to achieving greater autonomy for states and at the same time maintain cordial ties with the Centre.

The government would take all necessary measures to counter the "possible third wave" of COVID-19 and urged the Centre to increase allocation of vaccines and reject the Mekedatu dam project proposal of Karnataka.

The economic advisory council would suggest ways to revitalise the economy and ensure that benefits of growth reached all segments of society, he said.

"This government stands fully committed to achieving its ultimate goal of greater autonomy for states and establishment of true federalism at the union level through constitutional means. Strong states are needed to create a strong union. This government will staunchly stand in defense of the rights of the states and constitutionally oppose any infringement of such rights," the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MK-led government said.

The Tamil Nadu government is guided by the spirit of the Dravidian movement and identified social justice, gender equality, economic equity, opportunity for all through reservations and progress through education and social reforms as its core values.

"These values will drive every action, every legislation, every scheme, every initiative of this government," the Governor said.

The government also said that it would urge the Centre to give priority to Tamil Nadu people in appointments in its offices and public sector undertakings located in TN.

Tamils, especially those who studied in Tamil medium and in government schools would be given priority in recruitment for government posts and the 69% reservation would be continued and protected.

On inter-State river water issues, Purohit said the Mekedatu dam proposal was in violation of the Supreme Court.

Kerala and the union governments would be requested to quickly accord clearances for strengthening the Mullai Periyar dam and the government is committed to expedite the Cauvery-Gundaru link project.

The state would take up with the Centre, "retrieval" of Katchatheevu (an islet, from Sri Lanka) and a permanent solution that would prevent "assault, arrest and even loss of lives of fishermen from Tamil Nadu at the hands of the Sri Lankan Navy."

Purohit said the government is committed to promote transparency and accountability in management of temples and a state-level advisory committee would be set up to enhance facilities for devotees and improve maintenance.

The government would act on the basis of the Sachar Committee recommendations and more effectively implement schemes for minorities.

"This will be a people's government and not a party’s government." The governance would be in such a manner uniting people, who would proclaim that it is "our government."

The government would urge the Centre to declare Tamil, "as one of the official languages of India" and Tamil should be used as a co-official language in union government offices including nationalised banks in Tamil Nadu and if needed the Constitution should be suitably amended.

Empowering Lok Ayukta for clean administration, bringing Right to Services Act for quick delivery of public services, a separate budget for agriculture, revitalising farmers' markets, steps to achieve a target of 125 lakh tonnes of food grain production (2021-22) were among the other features of the Governor's Address.

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