Land­mark re­forms

Through­out his 19 years as Chief Min­is­ter, Karunanidhi cham­pi­oned a slew of laws in ar­eas rang­ing from ed­u­ca­tion to health­care to reser­va­tion to in­dus­try.

FrontLine - - COVER STORY - BY MANURAJ SHUNMUGASUNDARAM

IT IS NOT AN EASY TASK TO PRO­VIDE A re­port card of the leg­isla­tive progress of a five-time Chief Min­is­ter. It must be re­mem­bered that he first took oath as Chief Min­is­ter on Fe­bru­ary 10, 1969, and stepped down for the last time on May 13, 2011. He gov­erned Tamil Nadu at var­i­ous points over a 44-year pe­riod dur­ing which the eco­nomic land­scape un­der­went tec­tonic changes. To ap­pre­ci­ate this, it must be taken into ac­count that in 1970-71, In­dia’s per capita net na­tional in­come (at fac­tor cost at con­stant prices) was Rs.10,016 as against Rs.82,269 to­day. While the length and breadth of the leg­isla­tive achieve­ments over this era are enor­mous, like the per­son him­self, it is the tena­cious adapt­abil­ity over the long pe­riod dur­ing which he po­lit­i­cal arena that stands out.

The early Karunanidhi years, namely 1969 to 1976, saw the pri­ori­ti­sa­tion of so­cial re­forms over all oth­ers. The Tamil Nadu Agri­cul­tural Labourer Fair Wages Act, 1969, was en­acted to en­force pay­ment of fair wages to agri­cul­tural labour­ers in the Cau­very delta re­gion and pe­nalise landown­ers who ex­ploited labour­ers. Another Act, in the same year, would en­sure that all ten­ancy rights and in­ter­ests were main­tained in the rev­enue records for the first time. In the fol­low­ing year, the Tamil Nadu Land Re­forms (Re­duc­tion of Ceil­ing on Land) Act, 1970, was passed, a law which sought to re­duce dis­par­i­ties in land- strode the

JUNE 1970: A.N. Sat­tanathan hand­ing over the re­port of the First Tamil Nadu Back­ward Classes Com­mis­sion to Chief Min­is­ter M. Karunanidhi in the pres­ence of Min­is­ter of Labour and Back­ward Classes N.V. Natara­jan.

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