Government & Politics in Tamilnadu

The Governor is the Constitutional head of the state while the Chief Minister is the head of the government and the head of the council of ministers. The Chief Justice of the Madras High Court is the head of the judiciary. The present Governor, Chief Minister and the Chief Justice (acting) are Surjit Singh Barnala, M. Karunanidhi and S. J. Mukhopadhaya respectively. The major administrative units of the state constitutes 39 Lok Sabha constituencies, 234 Assembly constituencies, 32 districts, 10 municipal corporations, 152 municipalities, 561 town panchayats and 12,618 village panchayats. Chennai (formerly known as Madras) is the state capital. It is the fourth largest city in India and is also one of the five A1 Metropolitan cities of India.

Tamilnadu Assembly

Tamil Nadu had a bicameral legislature until 1986, when it was replaced with a unicameral legislature, like most other states in India. The term length of the government is 5 years, as is elsewhere in India. The present government run by the DMK led alliance came to power in 2006 and comprises a council of 29 ministers, chaired by the Chief Minister. Tamil Nadu legislative assembly is chaired by the speaker Mr. R Avudaiappan and is housed at the historical Fort St. George in Chennai. The state had come under the President's rule on four occasions - first from 1976 to 1977, next for a short period in 1980, then from 1988 to 1989 and the latest in 1991. Tamil Nadu has 10 Municipal Corporations: Chennai, Coimbatore, Madurai, Tiruchirapalli, Tirunelveli, Salem, Tirupur, Erode, Vellore and Thoothukudi. There is a plan to upgrade Tambaram and Ambattur as Municipal Corporations. The Corporation of Chennai, established in 1688, is the oldest Municipal Institution in India..

Tamil Nadu has been a pioneering state of E-Governance initiatives in India. A large part of the government records like land ownership records are digitised and all major offices of the state government like Urban Local Bodies — all the Corporations and Municipal Office activities — revenue collection, land registration offices, and transport offices have been computerised. Tamil Nadu is one of the states where law and order has been maintained largely successfully. The Tamil Nadu Police Force is over 140 years old. It is the fifth largest state police force in India and has the largest strength of women police personnelin the country. As of 2003, the state had a total police population ratio of 1:668, higher than the national average of 1:717.

Districts of Tamil Nadu

The 32 districts of Tamil Nadu are as listed below with the numbers corresponding to those in the image at the right.

  1. Chennai District
  2. Coimbatore District
  3. Cuddalore District
  4. Dharmapuri District
  5. Dindigul District
  6. Erode District
  7. Kanchipuram District
  8. Kanyakumari District
  9. Karur District
  10. Krishnagiri District
  11. Madurai District
  12. Nagapattinam District
  13. Namakkal District
  14. Perambalur District
  15. Pudukkottai District
  16. Ramanathapuram District
  17. Salem District
  18. Sivagangai District
  19. Thanjavur District
  20. The Nilgiris District
  21. Theni District
  22. Thoothukudi District
  23. Tiruchirapalli District
  24. Tirunelveli District
  25. Tiruvallur District
  26. Tiruvannamalai District
  27. Tiruvarur District
  28. Vellore District
  29. Viluppuram District
  30. Virudhunagar District
  31. Ariyalur district
  32. Tirupur district

Ariyalur district, which was created in 2001 from the Perambalur district, was restored as the 31st district of Tamil Nadu on the 23rd November, 2007. The TN government has also announced that Tirupur will be the new headquarters of the Tirupur district which will be formed by splitting the Coimbatore and Erode district.

Politics of Tamil Nadu : Pre Independence

Prior to Indian independence Tamil Nadu was under British colonial rule as part of the Madras Presidency. The main party in Tamil Nadu at that time was the Congress Party. Regional parties have dominated state politics since 1916. One of the earliest regional parties was the South Indian Welfare Association, which was a forerunner to Dravidian parties in Tamil Nadu, was started in 1916. The party was called after its English organ, Justice Party, by it opponents and later the same was adopted as its official name. The reason for victory of the Justice Party in elections was the non-participation of the Congress Party, demanding complete independence of India. Freedom movement saw great leaders like Subramania Bharathiar (Poet who inspired freedom movement by his poetic skills), Subramania Siva, V O Chidhamdaranar (Industrialist, who managed ships under the free India banner), Thirupur Kumaran, Rajagopalachariar (Rajaji) and Sathyamurthi to name a few.

E.V.Ramaswami Naicker popularly known as EVR and also as Periyar, believed in agitational politics and he took the Justice Party away from its original path. The Justice Party which had a moribund existence under E.V.Ramaswami Naicker, died at last in 1944 which he renamed the party Dravidar Kazhagam (DK for short) in 1944. DK was a non-political party which demanded the establishment of an independent state called Dravida Nadu. However, due to the differences between its two leaders Periyar and C.N. Annadurai, the party was split. Annadurai left the party to form the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). The DMK decided to enter politics in 1956.

Dravidian Politics

Political Alliance Assembly Elections Lok Sabha Elections
DMK+ 163(69.9%) 39(100%)
AIADMK+ 69(29.4%) 0(0%)
Independent/Others 2(0.8%) 0(0%)
Source: Indian Elections / Election Commission of India.

In the 19th century, western scholars discovered that the Dravidian languages that dominate the south of India formed a different linguistic group to that of the Indo-Aryan languages that are predominant in the north of the country. They also classified Indians into distinct Aryan and Dravidian races. It was proposed that the generally darker-skinned Dravidians constituted a distinct race. This concept has affected thinking in India about racial and regional differences and had an impact on aspects of Tamil nationalism, which has appropriated the claim that Dravidians are the earliest inhabitants of India, and the Aryan population were oppressive interlopers from whom Dravidians should liberate themselves.

Re-organisation of Indian states according to linguistic and ethnic basis has moderated Tamil nationalism, especially the demand for separation from the Indian Union. The Anti-Hindi agitations in mid-1960s made the DMK more popular and a more powerful political force in the state. The DMK routed the Congress Party in the 1967 elections and took control of the state government, ending Congress' stronghold in Tamil Nadu. C.N. Annadurai became the DMK's first Chief Minister.

Muthuvel Karunanidhi took over as Chief Minister and party leader after Annadurai's death in 1969. Karunanidhi's leadership was soon challenged by M.G. Ramachandran, popularly known as MGR. In 1972, he split from DMK and formed the Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (ADMK) and later renamed the party as All India Anna Dravid Munnetra Kazhagam. He was the Chief Minister of the state from 1977 until his death in 1987. After the death of MGR and the defeat of AIADMK in the 1989 assembly polls, J. Jayalalithaa took control of the party. She was elected as the General Secretary of the unified AIADMK. There have been several splits in both the DMK and the AIADMK, but since 1967 one of those two parties has held power in the state. The rise of Congress Party, Vijayakanth's DMDK and Dr. Ramdoss's PMK in the recent years has ensured that no single party is in majority to run a government and thereby giving rise to coalition politics.

Demographics and human rights

Political Alliance Percentage
Hinduism 88.11%
Christianity 6.06%
Islam 5.56%
Others 0.27%
Tamilnadu Religions.

Tamil Nadu is the seventh most populous state in India with a population of 66,396,000, as of July 1, 2008 (approximately 5.79% of India's population). It is the eleventh most densely populated state in India. In 2008, its population density was 511 persons per square kilometre, having increased from 429 in 1991, significantly higher than the Indian average of 324 persons per square kilometre. 44% of the state's population live in urban areas, the highest in India.

Tamil Nadu's population grew by 11.19% between 1991 and 2001, the second lowest rate for that period (after Kerala) amongst populous states (states whose population exceeded 20 million in 2001). Its decadal rate of population growth has declined in every decade since 1971, one of only three populous states (along with Kerala and Orissa) to show this trend. The state has registered the lowest fertiliy rate along with Andhra Pradesh and Goa in India in year 2005-06 with 1.8 children born for each woman, lower than required for population sustainability. According to National Family Health Survey-3 (NFHS-3), Tamil Nadu registered a fertility rate of 1.8, the lowest in India in year 2005-2006.

As recorded in the 2001 All India census, 89.43% of the population speak Tamil as their mother tongue. Other languages spoken in the state are Telugu (5.65 %), Kannada (1.68 %), Urdu (1.51 %) and Malayalam (0.89 %). A significant population can speak more than one language, usually English. Also the vast majority of the people follow Hindu religion. The distribution of population based on religion is described in the bar graph shown above.