Going beyond Tamil Nadu’s ‘freebies’ narrative -Reetika Khera

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published Published on Apr 5, 2021   modified Modified on Apr 5, 2021

-The Hindu

Other important promises that could touch, and likely improve, the lives of millions rarely make headlines

Disparaging references to “freebies” are a popular trope of media coverage of elections in Tamil Nadu. This Assembly election is no different: free data, free tabs, free washing machines were in the news as political parties released their election manifestos. Electoral promises serve as a road map for elected governments and deserve greater scrutiny. I took a quick look at the full manifestos in English of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, the Indian National Congress, the Makkal Needhi Maiam and the Bharatiya Janata Party. (Unfortunately, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) does not have an English version.)

The 17,000-plus word manifesto of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) is the most detailed. It mentions “welfare” 55 times, followed through with frequent mentions of education/school (61 times), women/girl/female (60 times), and of food/health/nutrition (17 times). The counts of these words in the manifestos of other parties pale in comparison (see table). In the case of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress, there is little difference (e.g., education appears 23-24 times; women 14-15 times).

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The Hindu, 5 April, 2021, https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/going-beyond-tamil-nadus-freebies-narrative/article34239504.ece?homepage=true


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