Dr. M. Karunanidhi Has Done To Agriculture
Agriculture in History Inspirations Op-ed

Is it true that Kalaingar Karunanidhi has done little less to Agriculture?

The onus for the ‘so-called’ backwardness of Tamil Nadu is often thrown upon Dravidian parties for their 50 years long rule in the state. “Agriculture is deteriorated by Dravidian Politics”, “No Dams since 50 years” are the common accusation in Social Media since few years. Why? Is it true that Dravidian Politics has done little less to Agriculture? What is the role of Dr. M. Karunanidhi in Tamil Nadu’s development, especially in Agriculture? Here we have tried to unveil these questions.

Is it true that Dravidian Politics has done little less to Agriculture? What is the role of Dr. M. Karunanidhi in Tamil Nadu’s development, especially in Agriculture? Here we have tried to unveil these questions.

In 1967, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) captured power in Tamil Nadu. It was really a blue moon in skies of Indian Politics, as DMK was the first state party to win absolute majority other than Congress. The then Agriculture Minister C. Subramaniam wrote in his autobiography Hand of Destiny that ‘Anti-Hindi Agitation is not the only reason for DMK coming to Power, there are various other reasons’. It is true. India, including Tamil Nadu faced lot of deaths due to starvation and lack of food grain production. DMK campaigned that they will solve food issue. After the demise of the then Chief Minister C. N. Annadurai, the promise of DMK rested over the shoulders of Dr. M. Karunanidhi. His policy towards Agriculture is highly remarkable. In order to increase Agriculture Research and Extension, Karunanidhi upgraded the Agriculture College and Research Institute into Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU). The dissemination of agricultural technologies to the farmers gave marked changes in Agriculture of Tamil Nadu. In 1967 the Food grain production was 54 Lakh Tonne. It was increased to 72 Lakh Tonne. In 2016 it was 1.2 Crore Tonne. It is mainly due to integrated research works in the university and dedication of toilsome farmers.

“Unlike Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh there is lack of Water Resources and Soil Fertility in Tamil Nadu. Even with limited infrastructure Tamil Nadu has achieved high. It is because of Agricultural policies put forth by Dravidian Politics especially Dr. M. Karunanidhi” quoted the Father of Indian Green Revolution Dr. M. S. Swaminathan. “He also married science with Tamil literature. At the World Tamil conference in 2010, Dr Karunanidhi announced the setting up of Genetic Heritage Gardens based on Sangam literature in the five zones representing kurinji, mullai, neithal, palai and marutham. The aim was to create awareness about the invaluable contributions of Tamil scholars towards achieving food and health security, whereby the unique plants and animal breeds of these five regions could be conserved for future generations” praises  Dr. M. S. Swaminathan by calling Kalingar as Scientists’ Scientist.

In February 1970, his government passed Land Ceiling Law in which Land holding ceiling was reduced from 30 acres to 15 acres. Consequently, Government acquired 88,146 acres of land which benefited 38,504 farmers. In his reign 1989-1991, Tamil Nadu was affected by drought and he waived Farmers’ Loan and promoted Rural Electrification in Agriculture. For the first time in Asia, he established separate University for Veterinary science in 1989. In order to reduce the role of Middle men he established Farmers’ Market (Uzhavar Sandhai) in 1999. First Market in Tamil Nadu was established in Madurai. Extension of Farm Loan waiving, increasing procurement price of Farm Products, subsidised fertilizers are additions to his achievement list.

In order to increase Agriculture Research and Extension, M. Karunanidhi upgraded the Agriculture College and Research Institute into Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU). For the first time in Asia, he established separate University for Veterinary Science in 1989.

In May 2006, Karunanidhi became Chief Minister for the fifth time. In his first signature as CM, he waived farm loans in cooperative banks. In September 2006, he launched ‘2 Acre Land for Landless Farmers Scheme’. Within a span of one year, 77,000 farmers were benefited.

Many people accuse Karunanidhi for his stand in Cauvery issue. They argued that he betrayed Tamils. Cauvery Water Tribunal was established due to the efforts of Karunanidhi. He succeeded in getting water for Tamil Nadu in Many occasions. This incident is an example.

In an interview, the then Prime Minister of India and the former Chief Minister of Karnataka H.D. Deve Gowda shared his words on Karunanidhi. “When I was Leader of opposition in state assembly, Devaraj Urs was Chief Minister of Karnataka. Writing letters to release Cauvery Water is a common practise for Tamil Nadu Chief Ministers and in one such occasion, Karunanidhi wrote a letter. I strictly said to Karnataka’s CM not to release water. Surprisingly Karunanidhi came to me and said ‘You are also a Farmer. Please try to understand the agony of Farmers without water ’ and clamped my hands. It really melted my heart”, said Deve Gowda.

The contributions of Dr. M. Karunanidhi to Agriculture of Tamil Nadu is highly inevitable and set the right tone not only for upcoming Governments but also for National Politics.

The Author, Mohamed Jayalani is a Sericulture graduate, interested in History and Contemporary Politics. Reading books and writing stories are his interest.

mohamedjayalanis@gmail.com 


This Article was originally published in Kalanipoo (கழனிப் பூ). Click here to read it in Tamil.