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The Union Government’s annual economic survey report, which assesses past year’s performance and examines opportunities and challenges in the year ahead, considering the effects of both domestic and international affairs, has been released. In the absence of a State Economic Survey report, which Tamil Nadu Finance Minister PTR Thiagarajan had promised to bring out more than a year-and-a-half ago, the document must be relied upon to see how the state has fared.

All major states in India usually bring out a comprehensive Economic Survey Report annually covering all the major sectors’ progress and updates made hitherto along with statistics to back up the findings. Even the most backward states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and West Bengal prepare an annual Economic Survey Report but Tamil Nadu, which is the second largest economy in the country, does not have one.

The Union Government’s Economic Survey report provides sectoral analysis and foresight on the development of regional economies with in-depth policy analysis and what ought to be done for the next level of growth and development, but neither the media nor academia tends to take note.

The economic survey of 2022-2023 has highlighted Tamil Nadu’s reform of property taxation revision in 2022 to increase the state’s own taxes. It has also mentioned Tamil Nadu’s revision of the state’s power tariffs to rationalise the huge disparity between power production costs and tariffs levied.

Regarding major reform initiatives like industrial relations and occupational safety health and working conditions, Tamil Nadu has taken proactive steps to undertake reforms in line with the directions of the Union Government. According to the economic survey, Tamil Nadu has pre-published the draft Rules for the adoption of the Industrial Relations Code, 2020, The Code on Wages, 2019, and the draft Rules for the adoption of the Occupational Safety Health and Working Conditions Code, 2020. However, the state has not pre-published the Code on Social Security, 2020, which all other states have published.

Even the most backward states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and West Bengal prepare an annual Economic Survey Report but Tamil Nadu, which is the second largest economy in the country, does not have one

As per the latest Annual Survey of Industries 2019-20 referenced by the economic survey, Tamil Nadu state has the largest number of people engaged in factories in the country, 26.6 lakh, followed by Gujarat (20.7 lakh), Maharashtra (20.4 lakh), Uttar Pradesh (11.3 lakh), and Karnataka (10.8 lakh).

The age group of 18-25 years makes up the largest share in the payroll (EPFO) of companies in the organised sector. States with the largest number of workers enrolled with EPFO are Maharashtra (21.4%), Karnataka (12.1%), Tamil Nadu (10.9%), Haryana (9.0%), Gujarat (8.4%), and Delhi (7.6%). These six states account for about 70% of those on the payroll in EPFO.

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On health care development, Tamil Nadu is one of the leading states to have already achieved the targets of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals Indicators such as Maternal Mortality Ratio below 100 per one lakh live births by 2020. Eight states have already achieved the SDG target to reduce MMR to less than 70 per one lakh live births by 2030. These include Kerala (19), Maharashtra (33), Telangana (43) Andhra Pradesh (45), Tamil Nadu (54), Jharkhand (56), Gujarat (57), and Karnataka (69). Considering the performance of states like Kerala and Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu has scope for substantial improvement.

Tamil Nadu is one of eight leading States in the country, including Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Odisha, and Madhya Pradesh which contributes to natural or organic farming through champion farmers under the Bhartiya Prakratik Krishi Paddhati, a sub-scheme of Paramparagat Krishi Vikas Yojana. It accounts for 4.09 lakh hectares of land brought under natural farming. The promotion of natural farming began in 2019-20, to assist farmers in adopting traditional indigenous practices for encouraging all forms of ecological farming, including Zero-Budget Natural Farming.

The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana is the largest crop insurance scheme in the world in terms of farmer enrolments, averaging 5.5 crore applications every year and the 3rd largest in terms of premiums received. States receiving more than 100% of claims in the country include Chhattisgarh (2017), Odisha (2017), Tamil Nadu (2018), and Jharkhand (2019) at 384%, 222%, 163%, and 159% of claims ratio against gross premium respectively.

With regards to the cooperative sector, Tamil Nadu is 4th highest with 126 Multi-State Cooperative Societies. Maharashtra leads with 661 cooperatives, followed by Delhi (159) and Uttar Pradesh (156). The Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act, 2002 was enacted after repealing the Multi-State Cooperative Act 1984, to facilitate the democratic functioning and autonomous working of the societies in line with the established cooperative principles.

On healthcare development, Tamil Nadu is one of the leading states to have already achieved the targets of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals Indicators such as Maternal Mortality Ratio below 100 per one lakh live births by 2020

On Logistics Ease Across Different States, Tamil Nadu ranked second in 2022 after Uttar Pradesh with a percentage score of 90% and more. This rank assesses key areas of logistics including infrastructure, services timelines, traceability, competitiveness, security, operating environments, and efficiency of regulation.

There has been massive growth in telecommunication across the country. The total telephone subscriber base in India stands at 117 crores (as of November 2022). While more than 97% of total subscribers are connected wirelessly (114.3 crores at the end of November 2022), 83.7 crores have internet connections as of June, 2022. The overall teledensity in India stood at 84.8%, with wide differences across states. It ranged from 55.4% in Bihar to 270.6% in Delhi. Eight licence service areas including Tamil Nadu, had a teledensity of above 100% besides Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Punjab, and Karnataka. Tamil Nadu has reduced the rural-urban digital divide as digital services have penetrated to rural areas including remote places.

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The Chapter on “India’s Medium-Term Growth Outlook: With Optimism and Hope” in the economic survey stresses that “State governments have to address power sector issues, and the financial viability concerns of the Discoms have to be addressed.” Tamil Nadu’s power sector crisis has been well known for years. Recent reports by RBI have also urged that reforms be undertaken to provide institutionalised stability to support economic growth.

The economic survey sums up that “India could effectively steer through the situation owing to its dedicated support to infrastructure creation through increased capex and strong macroeconomic fundamentals.” The role of regional economies plays a major role in creating shared prosperity for all sections of society by contributing to national growth and developing untapped potential.

The economic survey emphasised that “the reforms being undertaken in the energy and power sector will help fast-track India’s progress in the next 25 years.” Major regional economies like Tamil Nadu have a major role to play in reforming its power sector for steady progress and reducing cost escalations across sectors in the economy.

Only time — or the long promised State Economic Survey — will tell whether Tamil Nadu lives up to such expectations.

(The author is an economist and public policy expert)


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