DMK chief minister M.K. Stalin on Friday launched a basic income scheme for women heads of families, under which over 1.06 crore women across Tamil Nadu will receive Rs 1,000 a month.
The scheme has been named Kalaignar Urimai Thogai Thittam after former chief minister M. Karunanidhi. Its launch coincided with the 115th birth anniversary of former chief minister and DMK founder C.N. Annadurai.
As Stalin inaugurated the scheme in Kancheepuram, Annadurai’s birthplace, 75km from Chennai, hundreds of women cheered and held up their mobile phones, their screens displaying text messages saying Rs 1,000 had been credited directly to their bank accounts.
Stalin’s cabinet colleagues inaugurated the scheme simultaneously in other districts.
“This is not a dole but an entitlement, a first step in recognising the unpaid labour” that women silently contribute to the welfare of their families, Stalin said. He said the scheme’s launch had fulfilled a promise made in the DMK’s poll manifesto in 2021.
The new Congress government in Karnataka too has fulfilled an election promise by launching a Gruha Lakshmi scheme under which women heads of families receive Rs 2,000 a month.
In Tamil Nadu, the beneficiaries were identified over the past few months, the emphasis being on women heads of families who are day labourers, pavement vendors, fish workers, domestic workers, and the like.
Stalin hit out at political rivals who had claimed his government would not be able to implement such a massive scheme. Had the state’s finances not been so dismal when the DMK assumed power in May 2021, the scheme would have been launched much earlier, he said.
“We had to first set right the state’s finances,” he said, adding that a budget outlay of Rs 7,000 crore had been provided for the scheme this year.
Stalin said the scheme capped his government’s “Dravidian model of governance”, which had already given the state welfare measures such as free rides for women in government buses, a monthly allowance of Rs 1,000 for girls passing out of government schools so they can pursue college education, the recently expanded breakfast scheme for children of Classes I to V in all government primary schools, and the Naan Mudalvan scheme for skill development among the youth.
The monthly old-age pension has been raised to Rs 1,200 from Rs 1,000, and an additional 39 lakh elderly women have been brought under it, the chief minister said.