Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXIX No. 12, October 1-15, 2019
The Chief Minister has just returned after a three-nation tour to promote foreign direct investment in the State. It is perhaps the first in several decades in the history of Tamil Nadu, the last CM to travel abroad being M.G. Ramachandran. The ruling party has been jubilant over the trip while the Opposition has quite naturally criticised the move, asking for a white paper on what has been achieved. There is, of course, much to be said, both for and against such visits, and it all depends on perspective.
While Tamil Nadu may not have seen its CMs travel abroad seeking foreign investments, it has been common practice in other States. N. Chandrababu Naidu was a frequent traveller and in recent times, Mamata Banerjee too has done the rounds seeking investments in West Bengal. Given that Tamil Nadu ranks far higher than most States when it comes to being a destination for industries, the question being asked is whether such a trip is warranted at all. After all, was this not the reason that previous incumbents never felt the need to move around? To that it can be said that circumstances have since changed and as de facto CEO of a State, the CM does need to travel and show the flag here and there. Moreover the earlier occupants were high-profile personalities in their own right, known among the diaspora, who really comprise the target audiences for such visits. That cannot be said of the present CM and so it is a good publicity exercise as well.
That said, there is nothing wrong in the Opposition asking for a white paper on what was achieved during the visit. Prima facie, the details available in the public domain are scarce and do not point to a strong agenda – a visit to London to study ambulance facilities and the fight to control malaria there, a visit to Suffolk to see renewable energy facilities, meetings in the US with Foxconn and seeing animal husbandry facilities in that country – none of these really point to anything substantial. Of far greater benefit probably have been the meetings with the Indian diaspora in the US and in Dubai. The Government has since announced that MOUs worth Rs 2,780 crores have been signed. Employment generation projections from these have widely fluctuated from 20,000 to 37,000.
The point to be noted is that these are MOUs – and both parties can back off at
This month, Chennai has seen an alarming number of deaths due to a negligent city administration. 23-year-old B-tech grad Subhasri fell victim to a traffic accident caused by an illegal hoarding at Pallikaranai; 14-year-old Dheena was killed by an exposed live wire at Dhanam Nagar, Mugalivakkam neighbourhood; 42-year-old Sethuraj was electrocuted when a damaged electric pole fell on him at Chitlapakkam. As the administration scrambles to take corrective measures, the lack of coordination between state departments is noticeable with officials shying away from assuming responsibility and passing the buck among one another.