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24 Jul 2024, Edition - 3298, Wednesday

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The Daily Fix: Will another five years of Amma push Tamil Nadu down a slippery slope?

Covai Post Network

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Everything you need to know for the day (and a little more).

Rohan Venkataramakrishnan

The Latest: Top stories of the day
1. India successfully tested its first indigenous resusable space shuttle, which will put satellites into orbit and return to earth.
2. Six Army personnel were killed in an ambush by terrorists, thought to be from valley-based insurgent groups in Manipur.
3. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in Iran today to discuss trade, transit (and Pakistan).

The Big Story: Looking ahead

J Jayalalithaa will be sworn in today as chief minister of Tamil Nadu for the sixth time, the first consecutive term for a CM in the state since MG Ramachandran. In a surprising turn of events, it seems likely that the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s treasurer and heir apparent MK Stalin will attend.

The presence of a strong Opposition in the Assembly could alter the atmosphere of Tamil politics to some extent though in government things are likely to remain the same. Which means: More corruption, more sycophancy, a struggle to improve employment opportunities, the danger of industrial bases shifting out of the state and an All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam that is even more likely to see Tamil Nadu as its gigantic fiefdom.

The last two years of Jayalalithaa’s previous government were dismal: From the suicide of an Agriculture Department officer to a rise in caste crimes to further sedition charges and the hounding of writer Perumal Murugan, nothing seemed to go well. Then the Chennai rains exposed the basic inability, or even willingness, of the government to respond to its people.

The state chugs along thanks to the presumption that its social and human indicators remain high, meaning it is successful, despite others sneering about sops. Yet, while the state’s handouts have often had a huge, positive impact, the last few years have also seen Tamil Nadu’s debt balloon, its unemployment figures rise and social and educational indicators decline.

People have been willing to accept personality cult-based leadership for decades because it supposedly comes with development and better social indicators. What happens when an authoritarian Amma needs to remain in power but doesn’t have anything to show for it?

Politicking & Policying
1. Having led a disastrous campaign to be chief minister of Delhi a year ago, police office-turned-activist Kiran Bedi was on Sunday appointed the Lt. Governor of Puducherry.
2. Jammu & Kashmir’s forest minister is in trouble with state police after allegedly threatening a deputation of Gujjar farmers in Jammu by invoking 1947.
3. “Even I pray but don’t make a show of it. I will begin my campaign in Varanasi by inaugurating a road and not by Ganga aarti,” Akhilesh Yadav tells the Economic Times.
4. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal launched the Aam Aadmi Party’s campaign for the Goa elections through a rally in Panaji on Sunday.

Punditry

1. Why does India-US military cooperation not include the northern Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf, asks Manoj Joshi in the Indian Express?
2. It is worth wondering how much of the loyalty expressed for Rahul Gandhi is actually for his mother, writes TCA Srinivasa-Raghavan.
3. Manas Chakravarty in Mint pus together five charts to show us just how high inequality is in India.

Don’t Miss
For refugees in Germany, arrival is the only first stage on the road to becoming a resident. Bhavya Dore reports:

“It’s been a big transition. In Erbil, many people had guns. In his own home, they kept a Kalashnikov, no longer a necessity in a developed country not at war.

Then there’s the challenge of the cultural shifts – both tectonic and the more nuanced. “I saw two men,” he said uncertainly. “They were… how do you say? They were kissing.”

The permissiveness of Western society was one of the first things that struck Soufi. There wasn’t even a word for homosexuality in Kurdish, making the concept and the scene before his eyes completely alien.

“I had never seen this in my country,” said Soufi. “When I told my friend in Erbil about this, he said, ‘No, you are joking, that is not possible.’”

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