Book review: S. Narayan, The Dravidian Years: Politics and Welfare in Tamil Nadu

Published date01 June 2024
Author Thiruppathi P.
Date01 June 2024
Subject MatterBook Reviews
438 Book Reviews
S. Narayan, The Dravidian Years: Politics and Welfare in Tamil Nadu.
New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2018, 262 pp., `550 (Hardcopy).
DOI: 10.1177/00195561241236126
The Dravidian governance system is seen as a model for other states in federal
India, because it has adopted inclusive growth as a state strategy. The state had
greatest means to achieve this through state welfare programmes such as the
Public Distribution System, the Mid-Day Meal Scheme (MDM) since 1920 (Ma.
Madhivannan, 2013), and so on.
This reading highlights the ideological conict between Brahminism and non-
Brahmins (the movement). As a result, the Justice Party (now the Dravidian political
parties) implemented social reforms. The rst chapter describes the Social Reform
Movement and its early reforms. The second chapter describes how the Tamil Nadu
(TN) government administration evolved dramatically under the DMK regime from
1967 to 1977. It’s a continuation of the last chapter. The third chapter paints a clear
picture of the social welfare initiatives implemented by MGR’s rule between 1977
and 1987. The fourth chapter is a case study of the Mid-Day Meal and Nutrition
Programs. The fth chapter examines the narrative mode of the Integrated Nutrition
Program using a case study. In the sixth chapter, the author paints a vivid picture of
how AIADMK’s political and administrative authority was transferred from MGR
to Jayalalitha. The eighth chapter discusses welfare politics after 1996. The eighth
chapter examines the actual groundwork of state elections from 2006 to 2016 and
how freebies were developed as a political campaign technique to win elections.
The last chapter discusses future leaders and charismatic leadership in Dravidian
politics. Finally, it raises an important question: who will steer Dravidian politics
going forward? To answer the authors (Narayan, 2018) question, he himself joined as
a member of the Tamil Nadu government’s economic advisory body under M. K.
Stalin’s leadership, starting on June 21, 2021 (ETB Sivapriyan, 2021). Today, we can
see that the TN people have accepted M. K. Stalin (CM) as their leader. He has proven,
through his cabinet list, which included all community representatives, that the
unique Dravidian parties’ politics followed an inclusive method. This book is based
on the author’s personal observations, contributions, and experiences. The author
focuses on the relationship between administration and bureaucracy, societal
development and ideology, party beliefs, and public policy. This book provides a
detailed study of ideological policy and social welfare, which have all been success-
fully implemented. The chapters illustrate that successful programs and social trans-
formations can only be attributed to charismatic leaders. Also, this book discusses
Dravidian ideology but does not mention Dalits or their progress in Tamil Nadu.
It emphasizes MGR and Jayalalithaa’s political entry, exit, and successful administra-
tion rather than their ideology; for this, he took support from M. S.S. Pandian’s
writings, particularly that “MGR’s regime was a reection of his lms” only (p. 63).
But the author asserts that DMK’s administration provided an early path to Dravidian
politics, policies, and welfare programmes.
The chapters did not go into detail on 69% of the reservations. Without men-
tioning reservation practices, how can we understand Dravidian politics/welfare?
He sheds light on numerous social changes; however, some harsh Dravidian

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