The Madurai Central M.L.A, who posts his half-yearly performance reports to 78,000 houses of his constituency, recently took over as a State Minister of Finance and Human Resource Management.
In this article, we will show you why many in the intellectual quarters of the state are excited about his appointment.
Allocation of T.N. Finance Ministry – A Reward or a Challenge?
Dr. Palanivel Thiagarajan, also known as PTR, was hand-picked by the honorable Chief Minister to undo the state’s dwindling fiscal status. He has been appointed at a time when Tamil Nadu is undergoing a profound financial crisis. As of May 2021, when the new regime took over, the state budget was grim. With a revenue deficit at Rs. Sixty-five thousand nine hundred ninety-four crores, and the fiscal deficit is at Rs. Ninety-six thousand crores, the trends have been depreciating over the last ten years.
In this portfolio, P.T.R. under the leadership of M.K.Stalin has to:
- Control Bad Debts
- Strengthen the state’s revenues
- Correct the legacy issues derived due to previous financial practices.
- Cruise the state towards a steady economy, despite the possible social-demographic difficulties (like COVID disease burden, Floods, or Drought)
Managing the state’s dwindling finances and trying to implement the corrective measures at a time of severe pandemic crisis, in our opinion, is nothing but ‘a challenge!’
But, before we can talk about how Tamil Nadu can benefit from the D.M.K party and him, a little bit of P.T.R’s family history & qualifications are required to reiterate to readers of his credentials background.
The PTR Family & their History of Public Governance:
The P.T.R. family is well-known for its rich political legacy, public governance, and high educational status.
Sir. Ponambala Thiagarajan, the Grand Father of the current finance minister Dr. Palanivel Thiagarajan, was the Chief Minister of the Madras Presidency during the year 1936.
He was also a minister of the public works department in the 1930s, a legislator in the 50s, and the rebel Justice Party president. As a graduate in History and Law, he had rich educational credentials for his times. Before his political career, he practiced law.
Did you Know? Justice Party, led by Periyar, was later renamed as Dravida Kazhagam- an organization that evolved to give its roots to the Dravidian politics of Tamil Nadu.
His son, Dr. Ponnambala Thyaga Rajan Palanivel Rajan (Father of Dr. Palanivel Thiagarajan, the present finance minister), also began his career by practicing law. In 1967, he joined Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (D.M.K.).
He was elected twice as a legislator of the Theni district (1967 & 1971) and once as a legislator of Madurai West (2001). In 2006, he was elected as a legislator from Madurai Central.
He also served as a speaker of the Tamil Nadu Legislative assembly. In 2006, as Minister for Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments, he was instrumental in reconstructing the Sabarimala Ayyappa temple. Dr. Ponnambala Thyaga Rajan Palanivel Rajan is also well-known for his religious contributions to Madurai Meenakshi Temple. As a graduate of Political Science and Law, his educational credentials were ahead of his times too. In 1997, he was conferred the Doctor of Law on him (Honoris Causa) by Madurai Kamaraj University.
Did you Know? Sabarimala Ayyappa temple, Hill Shrine was burnt by mystery fires during May 1950, and Idol of " Sri. Ayyapa" was found destroyed. It was Ponnambala Thyaga Rajan Palanivel Rajan (Father of Current PTR) who was instrumental in replacing the Idol, almost a century after the fires.
The present Dr. P.T.R.Palanivel Rajan’s political career began in May 2016 as an elected legislative member of the Madurai Central constituency. The “Meendum P.T.R” campaign made him an M.L.A. of the 15th legislative assembly of Tamil Nadu.
The winning margins were as low as 3.8% (5800 votes to be exact) for this first-time contestant, but nevertheless, it helped him launch his political career.
Despite opposition being in power in Tamil Nadu, his political initiatives as a first-time elected M.L.A. were well-received and acknowledged by the residents of the Central Madurai constituency. His Urban Developmental initiatives using the M.L.A. funds set him apart from other politicians in Madurai. He was elected back again in the recent Tamil Nadu 2021 elections for a second term – Now with an astounding victory margin of 23% (34,000 votes).
Education and Professional Reputation in Finance Domain :
Ph.D. from Engineering Psychology from the University of Buffalo, MBA from Sloan School of Management, Masters in Operations Research from the University of Buffalo, and a Bachelors of Technology from National Institute of Technology, Tiruchy – these educational credentials of Dr. P.T.R. puts him in the league of few highly educated Indian politicians.
Despite his family’s clout and wealth, Dr. P.T.R. chooses to work on a 9-5 job! After years of academic studies, his career took flight at the age of 35. In 1990, he started out working for E.R.I., his resume notes. By 2001, he was head of Capital Markets with the famous Lehman Brothers. He also founded a power generation start-up called CRPGC Pvt. Ltd in 2009, before moving on to work with Standard Charted Bank, Singapore as Managing Director – Financial Markets.
During his high profile career stints in Lehman Brothers and Standard Charted Bank, he managed a diverse range of financial portfolios, including Securities/Derivatives Trading & Valuation, Risk Management, Litigation Support, Foreign Exchange and Multi-currency trading, Trade Finance/Transaction Banking, Operational Governance & Electronic Banking, and Digital Integration.
What sets him apart from other politicians?
Double Masters and a Ph.D., careers with reputed firms like Lehman Brothers and Standard Charted Bank, rich birth legacy – All these are but ‘objective’ credentials that complement to make this M.L.A. stand-out. The financial prudence gained from his education and professional experience might possibly help him on the job as a finance minister.
But, for many citizens, it is his ‘social connect’ and ‘leadership obedience’ he exudes that makes him stand apart. Intellects laud his objective credentials. A commoner lauds his constituency performance. Party-men laud him for his unquestioned obedience to the party leadership.
Did you know? Sir P.T. Rajan Road, K.K.Nagar is named after Sir. Ponambala Thiagarajan, grand-father of current finance minister?
As a first-time M.L.A. of Madurai central, he was well-known for utilizing all his MLALAD funds for the public infrastructures of his constituency. Despite the opposition being in the ruling the previous decade, Dr. P.T.R. was in charge of building close to 150 public infrastructures in central Madurai. The constituency report card, which is mailed to every house of central Madurai, highlights the construction of 40 bore-wells, 50 paved roads, 21 paver block roads, building and compound walls for ICDS, among its 2016 – 2021 achievements.
Though a politician with high political regard and status, this energetic M.L.A is out-spoken, critical, and someone who is keen on delivering tangible outputs!
M.L.A who is keen on delivering tangible outputs!
Many, even among the literate circles, were unaware of the state’s financial deficits and the consequences they may have in the life of a common citizen. But, after his appointment, most in the state can understand the numbers that go behind the macroeconomics of G.S.T, fuel cess, Center-State revenue sharing models,…..
It has been just two months since this second-time M.L.A. has taken over, but his ministry (under the guidance of party leadership) speaks with clarity on all the strategies to fix the state’s financial crunch. The state’s re-negotiation pitches on the center’s G.S.T. terms, requisitions for tax waivers on COVID vaccines and medicines, calls for rice subsidy are already setting D.M.K. and his ministry apart already.
How will Tamil Nadu possibly benefit from him?
Tamil Nadu is the second largest contributor to India’s G.D.P. It is a state of close to 82 million Tamil citizens. This new regime aims to make people rich, to make the state rich, again.
“…Put money in the hands of people”
When people have more money, they will be motivated to spend more. Inevitability, as the cash flow increases, the increased spendings will compound to revive the state’s economy. During these five years, the new government claims to do just that: put money in the hands of people to boost cash flow and economy, again.
From P.T.R’s public interviews, it is evident that neither D.M.K. nor his ministry is in favor of any short-term fixes. Long-term financial sustainability, increasing revenue streams, reducing interest burden, and boosting MSMEs seem to be the clear priority.
MLA PTR’s appointment to manage the finance ministry shows the new government’s commitment to reviving the state’s economy.
The interviews, public notices, and party manifesto declarations all promise for an inclusive sector-wise growth of Tamil Nadu. If implemented as planned, there will be prospective investments, growth of MSMEs and start-ups, jobs creation, and eventually an overall revival of Tamil Nadu’s economy.
‘Putting money into citizen’s hands’ has always been the choice of financial intervention adopted by great US presidents like Obama & JFK. We wish MLA PTR to achieve greater heights and take Tamil Nadu to its rightful place in global standing.
Credit must be given to existing Chief Minister M K Stalin for allowing and choosing a financial expert for the finance ministers’ role.
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