September 17, 2016
What began as subsized food outlets as Amma canteens is today an amalgamation of a host of heavily subsidized goods and services for the man and woman on the street – ranging from food, to medicines, to salt to water to cement, and even films!!
Chennai: Brand Amma continues to get bigger, grander and all pervasive. Now, there will be Amma marriage halls, with air-conditioned comforts to cater to the needs of the poor and the downtrodden. Chief minister J Jayalalithaa made an announcement of constructing 11 Amma marriage halls at a cost of Rs 83 crore at 11 different locations.
In view of penetration of smart phones – also aided by Amma phone scheme in which Jayalalithaa promised free mobile phones to working women – as also computers and internet, Amma marriage halls will be available for online booking, Jayalalithaa said in a statement issued here on Saturday.
Caring for the poor like the mother figure that she is the theme of this latest Brand Amma scheme that encompasses most facets of life and all those things that the poor need for a living – from Amma food (Canteens) to Amma medicines, to Amma vegetables to Amma Cinemas to Amma Cement, the list is endless.
There is not a thing that Amma has left out in her outreach programme touching the lives of the common man and woman, said Prof Ramu Manivannan of the Madras University explaining the phenomenon unleashed by Tamil Nadu chief minister. She has also cleverly appropriated the title of Amma, the universal mother, that appeals to all and has managed to convey an impression that she is the caring mother of all people of Tamil Nadu.
So, if she has now come out with Amma marriage halls, it is only accelerating the Brandwagon that she began driving ever since she came to power in May 2011. In fact, it was with a single minded focus that she went about building Brand Amma even as her opponents cried foul. But even the courts ruled that Amma was a generic term and they could not prevent anyone from using it when opposition sought the court’s intervention in erasing Brand Amma on the eve of 2016 elections.
Jayalalithaa in a statement on Saturday said people from economically weaker sections face severe hardship in conducting domestic functions at costly halls. “I have ordered Amma marriage halls for the benefit of poor. The halls will have facilities including air-conditioned rooms for bride and groom, guest rooms, dining hall and kitchen,” the CM said, adding that TN housing board and cooperative societies have been ordered to execute the scheme.
The halls will be built in Tondiarpet, Velachery, Ayapakkam, Periyar Nagar, Korattur in Chennai, Anna Nagar in Madurai, Ambasamudram in Tirunelveli, Salem in Salem, Kodungaiyur in Tiruvallur, Udumalaipet in Tirupur. “I have also ordered another 2,000 lower income/middle income/high income group tenements to be built by the TN housing board during the current fiscal itself,” she said. Each LIG flat will come up at 645sq ft and will have a hall, two bed rooms and a kitchen. It will cost less than Rs 20 lakh, while MIG flat of 807sq ft will cost Rs 30 lakh.
Jayalalithaa also announced the construction of 908 tenements for rental to TN government employees, 1,266 for sale to public at Rs 401 crore. Under the self-financing scheme, 873 tenements will be built in Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram, Vellore, Krishnagiri, Madurai, Thanjavur and Tirunelveli.
Jayalalithaa began in 2013, Amma canteens where she offered cheap cooked food at Amma Unavagams that became a runaway hit with the people of all walks of life.
Another, and perhaps the most popular scheme of the AIADMK, is running a network of hundreds of Amma Canteens to serve hot and hygienically cooked food at unbelievably cheap prices. A square meal at the Amma canteens is priced at Rs 5 per person, while it costs at least Rs45 at any restaurant. There are Amma vegetable marts and Amma mineral water too to round off the meals.
Sridhar Ramanujam, CEO of image management company Brand-comm, said, “The AIADMK has succeeded in using the brand very cleverly. And it helps if you are the ruling party since you have enough to spend.”
Given that Brand Amma has paid rich electoral dividends, coupled with her own poll stategy, Jayalalithaa is trying to make the brand bigger and all encompassing.