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Welcome changes that testify to Jayalalithaa’s return to health

It is unusual. Tamil Nadu is usually among the first to react to major policy decisions of the Centre impacting states’ finances. On almost every issue such reaction used to be adversarial. Take the case of GST, where the state has been the lone protestor refusing to fall in line. 

It has its reasons: for 15 years from 1999, the DMK was part of the Central government, enjoying power and pelf. Tamil Nadu had a significant representation in the Central cabinet. With the adversarial politics of Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK had been instinctively opposing any and every measure of the Centre. 

Instead of focusing on development, the state has been spending a lot of energy on emotive issues like jallikattu, the intractable issue of river waters and the conflict over the jurisdiction of fishermen in southern Tamil Nadu and northern Sri Lanka. 

The state stubbornly refused to fall in line with the implementation of the National Food Security Act and the UDAY scheme. The state resorted to judicial remedies to block several important development projects  like the elevated highway project linking the Chennai and Ennore Ports; stopping construction of the gas pipeline connecting Kochi with Bengaluru; the highly scientific nutrino project and the coal-methane gasification project along with the development of shale gas.

The state seems to have been little informed of the humungous benefits that would flow from the use of natural gas/LPG for a wide variety of applications as has been done by Gujarat to great advantage. Tapping shale gas has revolutionised the energy economics of the US and massively reduced its dependence on energy imports from the Gulf. But TN policymakers seem to be unaware of the importance of shale gas.

In this background, I noticed a welcome change over the last few weeks: Tamil Nadu has agreed to fall in line with the NFSA and the UDAY scheme. In my recent interactions with policymakers in Delhi, I gathered that the state has substantially modified its opposition to GST and has been making several valuable suggestions. Such a change is possible only with the consent of the chief minister, J Jayalalithaa, and this makes me deduce that she is getting back to fuller health. Godspeed to her resuming work in quick time. 

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