In a state synonymous with the freebie culture, an image she too played a part in cultivating, former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalithaa upped the stakes with her popular “Amma” populist schemes. It consolidated her welfare icon image and helped her government become the first to buck the anti-incumbency trend in 32 years, when it regained power in 2016. Here’s a look at some of the Amma brand:
Amma Unavagam (Amma Canteen)
Launched in 2013, this was Jayalalithaa’s first populist scheme with the ‘Amma’ branding, under which, the Chennai city corporation canteens offered subsidised food with prices as low as Rs 5 for a place of Sambar-rice and Rs 3 for a plate of curd-rice. The concept went on to acquire immense popularity and by 2016, over 300 such eateries had sprung up across the state.
Amma mineral water
This packaged drinking water scheme was launched in September 2013 and at Rs 10 for a litre, it’s among the cheapest in the market; even the Railways sells water for Rs 15 a litre. Amma’s mineral water has been available at all state-owned bus stations.
To provide high quality, certified seeds to farmers at affordable prices, Jayalalithaa launched the “Amma seeds” programme in 2014. The project, finally executed in January 2016, was allocated a budget of Rs 5.37 crore. The scheme also encouraged the urban population to grow vegetables at homes as it involved the distribution of vegetable garden kits.
Launched when the price of building material surged in 2014, the scheme involved the state government buying two lakh tonnes of cement from private manufacturers every month and selling them for as little as Rs 190 for a 50-kg bag.
Amma Arogya Thittam (healthcare initiatives)
Amma launched a number of healthcare projects. Foremost among them was the master health check-up scheme, through which, patients were assured tests at government-run laboratories at subsidised rates. Women have separate package such as pap smear and mammogram, vitamin D level, bone density test and parathyroid hormone levels.
Government-run pharmacies provided medicines at a third of the market rates and sell branded and generic drugs. The scheme was launched in 2015.