NL Interview: P Thiaga Rajan on freebies, free markets and captive Delhi media

NL Interview: P Thiaga Rajan on freebies, free markets and captive Delhi media

‘How does it affect us if the second richest man is Indian or not?’ the Tamil Nadu finance minister asks. ‘I worry about the average person’s quality of life.’

ByNL Team
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Palanivel Thiaga Rajan is Tamil Nadu’s minister for finance and human resources management. In which role he has emerged as one of the most strident critics of the Narendra Modi government’s economic policymaking.

Rajan, 56, started his professional career in the corporate world, working mainly in banking and finance. He watched the 2008 economic crisis unfold from up close at Lehman Brothers, the American financial services company whose collapse accelerated the crisis.

He came into politics with the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. He was elected to the Tamil Nadu Assembly in 2016 and re-elected last year.

In this interview with Abhinandan Sekhri, Rajan speaks about Modi’s views on “revadi culture”, or social welfare schemes, and the government’s role in balancing capitalism and socialism.

“I think there are different roles in society for free markets and for elected governments in a democracy,” he says. “I say the markets are supposed to do what the markets are supposed to do, sometimes it creates, you know, great winners and many non winners. That's what the democratically elected government is there to correct. That's what it's there to do.”

He also talks about the influence of TV news and social media on politics.

“I think the real threat of this captive media, which it is, especially the Delhi media, is completely capped,” he says. “It’s much more in the less educated, less connected, less informed segment of the society. That’s where the bias is.”

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