Field experience is necessary to be a good minister and an administrator: PTR Palanivel Thiagarajan

Thiagarajan credited AIADMK for doing better than most governments outside T.N. and most certainly better than the BJP governments

Published - August 27, 2022 10:24 pm IST - CHENNAI

State Finance Minister Palanivel Thiagarajan said that ‘one cannot be a good minister or a senior administrator without having a lot of experience on the field’ at a discussion on the book titled ‘Dravidian Journey’ written by J. Jeyaranjan, vice-chairman, State Planning Commission, Government of Tamil Nadu, held at Roja Muthiah Research Library here in Chennai.

Speaking during the discussion, Mr. Thiagarajan said that campaigning and field work became his guiding light in politics. “Going out on the streets and campaigning was a huge eye opener for me. Just like when I went to markets after studying finance and economic theory, I used what I observed in the day to day life to relate back to the theory and it became a virtual cycle. In politics, field work has been the guiding light. I don’t think one can be a good minister or a good senior administrator without having a lot of experience on the ground,” he said.

Mr. Thiagarajan asked Dr. Jeyaranjan whether there are many in India who connect theoretical or quantitative economic concepts to actual human experiences — lives changes, villages transformed etc.

Dr. Jeyaranjan responded by stating that universities have become just teaching centres and research is done only in institutes like MIDS.

“Each State started having its own research centres. Many of them were started by eminent economists or sociologists. They had enormous empathy with people. There were institutions that were focussing on quantitative methods and techniques. Universities just became teaching centres and these institutions became research centres. There was a clear divide. Research centres were trying to develop political economy framework – combine sociology, anthropology, history etc,” he said.

Mr. Thiagarajan credited arch-rival AIADMK for doing better than most governments outside Tamil Nadu and certainly better than the BJP governments even in its worst form. “Though I have 100 differences with the AIADMK politically, I would say even in its worst form it did better than most of the governments outside of Tamil Nadu and most certainly better than the BJP governments.”

When asked what the State Government should focus on, Dr. Jeyaranjan said, “The kind of output we get from universities is pathetic compared to leading institutions that have emerged in the past decade and there is complete ignorance on the part of teachers, professors. Government after government has not paid attention. We are convening a meeting of all vice-chancellors on August 30 to bring them on board…some change can be effected. There is complete stagnation in terms of course content. Consequently, though we say that our gross enrolment ratio is 52%, we find that there are no takers for many of our courses. This hasn’t gotten our attention.”

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