Thursday, January 28, 2016

Dr Anbumani Ramadoss's pitch as next CM of TN

On 26th Jan evening, I attended a function in which PMK leader and former Union Health Minister Dr Anbumani Ramadoss addressed an audience full of influencers as to why he is the best fit to be CM of TamilNadu after the 2016 assembly elections.

I felt I was tricked into attending this event- because I was told the event is about “The Chennai we want” initiative run by an NGO to “Explore ways to make the state capital prosperous place to live”. It was supposed to be an event where we discussed various burning issues concerning Chennai- the floods, road safety, pure water etc and Dr Anbumani Ramadoss (Sitting MP and former union health minister) would be chief guest speaker. But in reality, the event which started 1 hour behind schedule ended up having a 2.5 hour speech by Dr Anbumani Ramadoss about himself and his vision for the state and more importantly why he deserves to be the next CM.

If the PR agency had revealed true intentions-that it is a political event where Dr Ramadoss would pitch himself for the position of Tamil Nadu’s CM, probably most of us wouldn’t have turned up to the event. But then, after sitting through the entire session which went on till 9.30 PM and beyond, I don’t regret attending the session. Because Mr Ramadoss came out as a man with lots of ideas, vision and strategy. He didn’t talk random things blaming everyone else and portraying himself as god. He didn’t promise moon if he were to become CM (In fact he said he won’t give anything free in your hands if he gets to become CM- that is a bold statement for TN voters who are used to getting freebies.) His statements were backed up by statistics, ideas, strategies and lots of sense- which is rare to find among politicians. So in a state traditionally exploited by two main parties, people like Anbumani Ramadoss stand unique and probably deserve a chance to bring in some change.

In this post, I will try to list all the key points made by Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss and other outcomes from the session.

Background- Dr. Ambumani Ramadoss has earned his MBBS degree, was India’s youngest cabinet minister when he became health minister in Congress Government, he said he was an athlete in school days and has traveled the world, from Africa to US to Copenhagen to Singapore and beyond. That alone makes him much more qualified candidate compared to Actor/Actress turned politicians who have been ruling the state for decades.

Ramadoss said 108 Ambulance service is his initiative. I was under the impression that 108 is brainchild of Satyam Founder Ramalinga Raju and the EMRI set up by his foundation. When questioned, he explained that the idea was his and when he met Ramalinga Raju in Hyderabad, later expressed interest to implement it for Hyderabad. Thus EMRI only implemented the idea seeded by Ramadoss on trial basis- this is the claim made by Ramadoss, I don’t have a contact with EMRI or Raju to cross check. He said that 25% of the calls are for child birth incidents, 21% is for accidents. So far 16000 babies have born inside 108 Ambulances.
Ramadoss explained various initiative he took as health minister- to reduce IMR and MMR (Infant Mortality Rate and Maternity Mortality Rate) by 55% and 50% (not sure in comparison to what), to fight various lobbies (he brought in policy that bans smoking in public areas, sale of tobacco within 100 meters of education institutions and mandatory warning messages on cigarette packs), the awards he got and that UN Secretary breaking protocol in coming and meeting him to thank him for the good work he has done.

Once the intro is over, Ramadoss listed various problems TN is currently facing

Today one third of TN’s revenue comes from TASMAC. Out of 105000 crore revenue 36k crore comes from sale of alcohol. TN is the only state that commissioned a SWOT Analysis when TASMAC sales went down. (I have seen that even during floods, TASMAC shops were doing brisk business, men wasting money on alcohol instead of using it to rebuild their homes or feed family members.) For all other state, revenue from alcohol is in the range of 3 to 8% only. Why should Government be running alcohol shops? While liquor sale brings lots of revenue, the actual loss in terms of GDP is huge- if a drunken fellow causes an accident, time and effort of police, doctor etc is wasted, his income till he recovers stops-value of all these is much more than profit gained from alcohol sale. Ramadoss pegged the total loss because of Alcohol at 1,76,000 crores against the revenue of 36000 crores. Kerala and Guajarath have already banned alcohol. Anbumani promised to do the same if he is elected to power. Said most of the women folk are with him in this decision as they are directly affected by this menace.

On questioned how he would compensate for the loss of revenue, Dr Anbumani spoke of bringing some order into sand mafia- today only small % of actual sand extracted is reported to govt. While sand price is Rs 670 at the river bed, end consumer pays 10 times more- if this can be channelized, we can have more revenue- the MP said.
  • Industrial growth is down from 6% to -1%
  • Agri growth down from 2% to -12% (I don’t know compared to what period- assume it is what it was 5 years ago vs today)
  • Economic growth down from 8 to 3.5%
  • Recently state govt spent Rs 200 crore public money on investor meet and claimed MOU worth 242000 crore is signed- MOU is just a piece of paper and doesn’t signify real investment-So this is a complete eye wash, according to Ramadoss. (I agree- I have shared my concerns on this topic in an earlier post here). No real investments are happening because investors are unable to meet the CM. [I have written a separate post on this topic- why investment values announced doesn’t mean anything] If he becomes CM, he could dedicate 3 hours every week to meet Industrialists who wants to meet CM- Ramadoss added.
  • 65000 crore worth of investment has gone out of TN as Hyundai, Ford, Nissan and Bharath Benz have chosen other states (mainly Gujarath and AP) to set up their second plants
  • Debt has increased from 1 lakh crores 5 years ago to 2.12 lakh crores today- this refers to only administrative debt.

The two leading parties have found an easy way to keep public engaged- for men, there’s alcohol, for women, freebies like mixer grinder etc, for youth, there’s movies (TN has a cap of Rs 120 per ticket to show movies, irrespective of how popular the movie is or posh the theatre is. Same movie in Bangalore may cost 5 times more and it will be cheaper to catch a train, come to Chennai, watch the movie and go back)

Speaking of public transportation, Ramadoss said long ago there were 3000 buses for 20 lakh population, today there’s 3500 buses for 50 lakh people. Chennai needs 8000 buses, outer ring roads and dust pollution need to be tackled. He said he can make the state highways toll free. Said that toll road agreements will have clauses that mandates that even if there is one pot hole, toll shouldn’t be collected. But this is never enforced. Ramadoss said Lithuania offers free public transportation in its capital. I was surprised to hear this. I was there in Kaunas and Vilnius last year and transportation was cheap but not free. I countered him on this during Q&A, Ramadoss checked with his staff and said he meant Estonia, not Lithuania. (I was too tempted to Take a ferry from Helsinki to Tallinn, capital of Estonia during my visit to Helsinki, but that meant not getting enough time for Finland, so I dropped the plan. Should visit Estonia sometimes.
Mini bus in Kaunas, Lithuania

Tram buses in Lithuania
He talked about corruption in the state and various other topics.

But we need to note that such a forward thinking person still seem to believe that 27% of opportunities should be reserved for OBCs (Source: Wikipedia, I read this only later, couldn’t ask him a question during the session). He is also against atomic power and believes solar and other renewable sources of energy are adequate to generate required power.
On being asked what is his strategy to win the state election, Dr Ramadoss said that there is anti-incumbency and ruling party is not likely to win. He said main opposition has lots of infighting and rest of the parties do not practically count. He said he is confident of winning this time.

Overall, I don’t regret attending the meet- Dr Ramadoss has managed to project himself as a viable alternative to the two major parties in the state. He has several qualities (education, experience, will power, energy, vision etc) that his rivals lack. Will he be able to repeat the magic Kejriwal created in Delhi? Will voters of TN give up their temptation for freebies, ditch the sun and the flower to embrace Mango? Will his efforts have desired Impact on the state? Only time will tell.


Rajesh Kumar said...

Yes.. You are right... I too was part of that meeting and i was shocked to see the tamilnadu politician who has adverse knowledge on almost all the topics and infact he knows the half-life period of radio-active materials too....

Definitely he will be honored in near future and reach good levels just by comparing the stuff among his rivals..

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks Rajesh

JK said...

Hi Srinidhi, Good article. It seems Anbumani has versatile knowledge to administer all peices of state.

Arokiyadoss Rayerfrancis said...

Sir, its advance not adverse

Arokiyadoss Rayerfrancis said...

Thank you Srinithi for your comments

Arokiyadoss Rayerfrancis said...

Thank you Srinithi for your comments

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Thanks JK and Arokiyadoss

Murali rajan said...

ye Anubumani Ramadoss can do something really good for our state.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

ok Murali

Sooriya Prakash Thangaswamy said...

Hi Srinidhi.. Good to read. Though u landed there by accident, it was useful info for us. He sounds like an interesting politician. I too hope he gets a chance to prove his (claimed :p ) abilities. But the real challenge is with the strong control DMK and ADMK wield over the mass media. While their Makkal TV is far beyond Sun TV in terms of audience numbers, I am not sure how much of help social media can offer him.

Rajesh Kumar said...

Yes... It's jus typo...will change...

Rajesh Kumar said...

Yes... It's jus typo...will change...

Rajesh Kumar said...

Yes... It's jus typo...will change...

The wild said...

I am glad to see that the most eligible CM has to missell his talk to attract people -but its considered fine and people still believe in his words inspite of his misselling,slip it under the rug.

Evenmore funnier is to camoflague a political party by an NGO at the forefront ,why all this drama ,does he not have the guts to propagate his agenda under his own party banner ? if his ideas are so great why does he have to resort to such cheap tactics to even his sell his ideas ?,why try to attract people with an NGO name ?

PMK is one of the most casteist party in the cast ridden political history of the state,seems like you are unaware of ground realities.Ramadoss will win wherever he stands ,he stands mostly in dharmapuri -his stronghold.Anyways its beggars belieft that his party will win elections ,everybody wants to emulate Modi and company.

Just like Deve gowda and Kumarswamy dream of controlling karnataka by winning 2/3rds majority let mr anbumani also continue to dream

Shrinidhi Hande said...

@The Wild-
I stay neutral on this topic. Let people of TN decide.

Unfortunately today we have come to a level we have to select someone who is least corrupt among all. We are forced to vote for someone who might have committed 3 murders, because all other candidates have committed 5 or more murders (just example). This guy may not be 100% what he claims to be- but if elected to power, is he likely to do more good to state than other CM Candidates?

I noticed in wikipedia about his stand on reservations. That is not good.

வேலையுள்ள பட்டதாரி said...

Sir, I too was not a supporter of Dr Anbumani a decade ago. But after his service as Union health minister, I turned as his supporter. Some rivals say that he is anti-Dalit and pro-Vanniyar. But that is not true. You very well know how media blamed him for his fight for Dalit reservation in AIIMS. The then chairman of NCSC Mr But Sing awarded him for this (

Regarding the 108 ambulance...
I don't think Sathya Raju should be given credit for the idea. There were many private organisations operated ambulance service for their employees and for the people of their areas. This concept was used in Nayagan movie too. Should Mani Rathinam be given credit? :-)

Dr Anbumani has clarified this point many times. He got inspiration from the U.S. government's 911 ambulance service.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Ok-When I visited EMRI, they were taking credit for this. May be when both of them are brought to same platform one will accept the truth.

Anyway we will know in another 5-6 months the new CM of TN.

Karthik Murali said...

I have already liked your blog for interesting information on travel etc
But right now decided never to follow you again :)Sorry man..

Despite being tricked or misled you still went ahead and gave free publicity to this guy. I was invited for the same and i quickly deciphered its his political campaign speech and there's no need for me to waste time
End of the day he's still a politician and has offered "freebies" but in a different way. Banning of alcohol is not a solution rather a bad a move. A government should not and does not have the right to decide whether I should drink or not
I'd never vote for this person and this post convinced me completely on it

Shrinidhi Hande said...


sad to see you go

But I believe in being neutral- I reported what I saw and felt- haven't advocated that everyone should vote for him. That is for voters of TN to decide if they feel this guy is their best option or otherwise.

I realized that focus of the session is nowhere getting towards 'Chennai We want' only after the session started. Since the speaker was talking with logic, sense, statistics and vision I decided to hear him out. In your opinion who makes the best CM for TN next election?

Will be good if you can dropby once a while.

The wild said...

At most PMK which was supposed to have formed the next govt is leading in one seat.

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Not even one seat.. Either people don't want change or are comfortable with free goodies...
Voting was poor in Chennai city.

Anyway, best wishes to him next time