The DMK government’s flagship Rs 1,000 monthly financial assistance scheme for women was rolled out in Kancheepuram on Friday on the birth anniversary of Dravidian icon, the late CN Annadurai, with chief minister MK Stalin saying it meets the twin objectives of recognising women’s hard work and eliminating poverty.
Stalin launched the ‘Kalaignar Magalir Urimai Thittam’ (Kalaignar Scheme for Right of Women) from the hometown of Annadurai, the DMK founder who heralded Tamil Nadu’s first non-Congress government in independent India in 1967. Late DMK patriarch Karunanidhi (1924-2018) is popularly known as Kalaignar, which means an artist of eminence.
A basic income programme, it is named after former CM M Karunanidhi and the state government has christened the assistance the “right” of women. The government said Rs 7,000 crore has been allocated for the scheme this year. The initiative is a recognition of women’s hard work, a key objective of the scheme.
“Nobody took into account the work of women at their homes. This scheme aims at acknowledging their work,” Stalin said. The other goal is that the Rs 12,000 per annum aid would help women live with self-respect by eliminating poverty and improving their living standard.
“These two are the objectives of the scheme under the Dravidian model regime. We have devised this programme on the basis of lessons we learnt from Periyar, Anna and Kalaignar. Entire India is closely watching the schemes the DMK has implemented and other states are very eager to follow,” he said.
He added: “When I go to the INDIA bloc meetings, leaders who attend the meet enquire with interest the schemes that are brought by our government. They think of implementing them in their states. Some union ministers, too, enquired about Tamil Nadu’s schemes when I took part in the dinner (G20) hosted by President Droupadi Murmu…”
“I do not consider this as appreciation for me. It is the admiration for the Tamil Nadu government and our people.” The government has identified as many as 1.06 crore women (1,06,50,000) as beneficiaries under the plan and the Rs 1,000 assistance is paid to beneficiaries through Direct Benefit Transfer.
Slamming main opposition AIADMK without naming it, Stalin said some people, who bet on false propaganda had dubbed the Rs 1,000 plan a false assurance that could not be fulfilled. The CM said his government would have fulfilled the promise soon after his party assumed power in May 2021 but for the fiscal situation then.
After addressing the issue to an extent, the promise is now honoured, he said. The AIADMK was in power from 2011 to 2021. “Some people could not even tolerate this. They tried to scuttle the scheme through lies and rumours,” he said.
He asserted he would implement all the initiatives announced by him. “I am delivering whatever you need as you chose the DMK’s Rising Sun symbol and the symbol of our alliance partners on the Electronic Voting Machine (in the Assembly election).” Though matrilineal society guided humans in the yore, gradually, in the course of time, women were confined to their homes in the name of religion, conservative practices, and by various hegemonic classes.
Castigating child marriages, he said the scenario has now changed and girl children are going to schools and colleges. Nobody can prevent them from choosing employment. “The Dravidian movement created the age of social reform,” he said.
Stalin said however there are also regressive elements who support child marriages. Such people have only hatred for Dravidian movement. The reason for their anger is, child marriages cannot be conducted and even if held these are illegal.
The remark is seen as aimed at governor RN Ravi as he had alleged forced virginity test by the state government on minor Dikshitar girls, seen as also a defence of Dikshitars of Chidambaram temple, some of whom allegedly facilitated child marriages.
The chief minister said, “As remarked by Periyar, elevating women more than men is the Dravidian model. It is a matter of pride to see the children of poor women becoming doctors, engineers and teachers.”
In the 20th century, it was Periyar’s struggle that paved the way for emancipation of women and they conferred the honorific title of Periyar on him in 1938. Reformist leader EV Ramasamy (1879-1973) is popularly known as Periyar.
Stalin praised his mother Dayalu Ammal, his wife Durga Stalin and daughter Senthamarai. “I have got a compassionate mother, a wife who is a pillar of support and a self-confident daughter,” he said, adding that all women have such great qualities and it was Karunanidhi who guarded women’s welfare.
He listed a slew of initiatives led by Karunanidhi and it includes equal right in properties (by amending the Hindu Succession Act in 1989) for women. Also, he cited a string of programmes of his government aimed at women development, which includes fare-free travel in state-run town buses.
The crowning initiative is the Rs 1,000 basic income scheme. “This is not an assistance, but your right. I repeat, this is not assistance but your right,” he said.
Alongside the beneficiaries of the Rs 1,000 scheme, which has 1,06,50,000 beneficiaries, if the 39 lakh beneficiaries of enhanced pension in other state schemes are also taken into account, about 1.45 crore families are benefitted in total. Reiterating the everything for everyone slogan of his Dravidian model regime, Stalin said the scheme gave socioeconomic and political strength to women. He distributed bank debit cards to several beneficiaries and state ministers rolled out the programme in their districts.
A number of beneficiaries spoke on how the financial support would be very useful for them. It includes a woman, whose family, dependent on agriculture, does not have a regular income. Citing accolades from people and beneficiaries for the assistance, Stalin wondered if there could be a better appreciation for the programme, which is implemented on the birth anniversary of Anna and during Karunanidhi’s centenary (2023-24).
The state government had months ago announced that the scheme, a key feature of DMK’s manifesto ahead of the 2021 Tamil Nadu assembly election, would be launched on September 15 on the birth anniversary of Annadurai.
Kancheepuram is Annadurai’s hometown. He steered the DMK to its first ever grand victory in the assembly election in 1967 and was chief minister between 1967 and 1969. Annadurai founded the DMK in 1949.
In July, Stalin inaugurated a camp in Dharmapuri to facilitate registration of applications by women to avail the Rs 1,000 monthly assistance. Stalin had described the scheme as revolutionary that would lead to a new renaissance in the lives of crores of women.
The Rs 12,000 payout per annum would be great support for women, a symbol of development. It would help them improve their standards of living, lead a life of self-respect and eradicate poverty, he had said.
On the 115th birth anniversary of Annadurai, Stalin garlanded a statue of the Dravidian stalwart here and paid floral tributes before he launched the scheme.
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)