Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaraman, who died in Chennai on December 5, was more than mere a politician in the state. She was a towering figure in Tamil Nadu and won admiration across the political spectrum for her pro-poor policies.
As a mass leader, she had a “unique and deep empathy with the needs and hope of people”. Be it welfare schemes for the rural and urban poor, her leadership qualities and administrative abilities were truly outstanding. These measures gave her an enormous amount of goodwill, which continued throughout.
Jayalaithaa, also popularly known as Amma, had launched many popular schemes in the state:
Amma Unavagam (Amma Canteen)
Jayalalithaa started Amma Unnavagam (Amma Restaurant) in 2013 with a vision to provide low-cost meals for the public. The concept has become an instant hit with people not just in the state, but all across the country as an ideal example of welfare schemes. It now has grown to a chain of over 300 outlets across Tamil Nadu’s urban centres and prompted visits by officials from other states, which are keen to replicate the model. The canteen charges as low as Rs 1 for an idli, chapattis (Rs3 for two), Rs. 5 for a plate of Sambar rice and Rs. 3 for a plate of curd rice. With this scheme, Jayalalithaa provided the poor three meals a day under Rs. 20. Further, the scheme generated employment for a large number of women who were needed for the cooking and cleaning.
And a year after its launch, J Jayalalithaa’s AIADMK swept the 2014 Lok Sabha polls winning 37 out of the 39 seats in Tamil Nadu.
Amma Table Fan
In February 2016, the Tamil Nadu government decided to supply about 1.93 crore table fans costing Rs 930 each to the poor. The AIADMK government began distributing electric fans, mixies and grinders in 2011.
Amma pharmacies, the first of which began functioning in June 1025 in Nanganallur, sold medicines at least 10 percent to 15 percent cheaper than private chemists.
She had also launched Amma Baby Care Kit scheme in Tamil Nadu on September 7, 2015 to provide accessories for the newborn and its mother. With 16 baby care items inside it, the cost of the kit was pegged at Rs 1,000.
Due to rising prices of building materials, the late chief minister announced the sale of subsidised cement. The state government buys two lakh tonnes of cement from private manufacturers every month and sell them for a much lower price of Rs 190 for a 50-kg bag.
Free laptops to students
In 2011, Jayalalithaa distributed free laptops to students across the state who have acquired a certain percentage in school and college examinations. The scheme encouraged digital education among students from a very early stage.