Jayalalithaa, the late Tamil Nadu chief minister, who passed away on Monday night was a mother figure to millions of people in her state. Commonly reffered to as ‘Amma’, Jayalalithaa held a special place in the hearts of the lakhs of people in her state and the country, especially because of her welfare schemes and tireless work for the poor. From providing laptops to students, milch cows and goats to mixer-grinders, free mobile phones and 50% subsidy for women to buy two-wheelers, Jayalalithaa’s schemes made her popular amongst the masses in a way that no other leader in the state was. We take a look at 5 recent schemes that made ‘Amma’ a messiah for the people of Tamil Nadu.
1) Amma Canteen or Amma Unnavagam
Perhaps, one of Jayalalithaa’s most famous schemes, entails providing meals at a small cost of Rs 5. The government reportedly spends anywhere between Rs 200-300 crore on the scheme. According to an Indian Express report, the menu in the canteens is simple, consisting of idlis and pongal for breakfast, three varieties of pre-mixed rice for lunch (the Sambhar Rice and Curd Rice that cost just Rs 3 each are a constant, while the third dish is either a Lemon Rice or a Curry Leaf Rice), and chapattis (Rs 3 for two) served with a complimentary dal for dinner. The model of providing subsidised clean and healthy food has been cited many times in media, and has often been seen as a step that other states should also emulate.
2) Amma salt
In 2014, Jayalalithaa launched three varieties of low-cost salt, that were called the ‘Amma Salt’. The three varieties were – Refined Free Flow Iodized Salt, Low Sodium and Double Fortified. At the time of launch, the Amma Salt prices were Rs 21, Rs 14 and Rs 10 for Low Sodium, Double Fortified and Refined Free Flow Iodized Salt, respectively. The salt is made by Tamil Nadu Salt Corporation and the scheme was launched to make common salt available at a fair price to the weaker sections of the society.
3) Amma Mineral Water
After the thumping success of the Amma Canteen, Jayalalithaa in 2013 launched the Amma Mineral Water scheme. This was aimed at providing a mineral water bottle at the cost of Rs 10. The scheme started with the inauguration of an ‘Amma Drinking Water’ plant, which had a daily capacity of around 3 lakh litres of water. The water was made available to people in a plastic bottle with the word ‘Amma’.
4) Amma cement
Another one of the populist schemes from Jayalalithaa, the Amma Cement was launched in 2015. The scheme provides cement at a cost of Rs 190 per bag. To avail cement at concessional price of Rs 190 a bag, beneficiaries should get a certificate authenticating their building plan from specified authorities including local and revenue officials. A toll free number 1800 425 22000 is available to help the public know more about the scheme and its availability. Within a few months of its launch, as many as 1 crore cement bags were sold under the Amma Cement scheme.
5) Amma pharmacies or Amma Marundhagams
This welfare scheme was launched in 2014 with the inauguration of 10 shops in the state’s 7 districts, and it was expanded in geography and number. The idea was to provide medicines at a discount of 10% to the maximum retail price (MRP). The pharmacies were a game changer because the welfare scheme aimed to upend the pharma industry’s pricing model.