People know him only as a youth icon and 'Ilaya Thalapathi', or 'Young Commander'.
Following his stint as the Mayor of Chennai in 1996, people were so impressed with his work that he was referred to as "Managara Thanthai", or father of the city. He privatized garbage clearance, worked on improving the city's infamous public transport system and got about a dozen flyovers and mini-flyovers built. Becoming mayor repositioned him as a serious party organizer and he got noticed by the educated middle-class.
His gradual rise within the party due to his dedicated and sincere work signaled the arrival of a leader who many a time was the only lifeline for the DMK – getting it back on its feet, during those years of floundering and losing ground.
When he was given a ministry in his fourth term as MLA, he chose Local Administration. His experience as a Mayor gave him a quick grasp of challenges on the ground and he rightly chose to add value to this ministry with his experience. He also got a chance to make a difference to rural administration and the Panchayati system of local empowerment, improving upon whatever was already in force.
Women and their empowerment held a special place in his heart and he encouraged and pioneered the formation of Women Self Help Groups. He made sure that each woman from a rural background or women below the poverty line had access to micro-finance through banking institutions. Where not possible, the Youth Wing from DMK came forward with knowledge and logistic support for women who wanted to improve the economical conditions of their families. He firmly believes that when a man earns, it is an earning for him, but if a woman earns, then she earns a livelihood and better life for her entire family. Toward that end, his pioneering efforts of supporting Self-help groups have gone on to make a mark, not just in India but across Asia.
He also wanted to create systems within Tamil Nadu’s administrative units, to ensure transparency.
Tamil Nadu’s administrative units comprise of 32 Districts, 76 Revenue Divisions, 1127 Firkas, 220 Taluks, 16,564 Revenue Villages, 148 Municipalities, 10 Municipal Corporations, 385 Panchayat Unions (Blocks), 12,618 Village Panchayats, 561 Town Panchayats, 39 Lok Sabha Constituencies and 234 Assembly Constituencies. Bringing about radical e-governance initiatives was not an easy task in this well-established yet complex system of governance. Yet MK Stalin pushed for it and got it done.
He was instrumental in establishing e-governence centers where the public could avail a host of services viz., downloading more than 200 different forms pertaining to various departments including Road Transport, Registration, Pension and, Civil Supplies. They could also view their ‘chitta adankal’ and even book train tickets through these centres. People were encouraged to use the facilities for grievance redressal and tele-medicine too. The centers were equipped to offer government-to-citizen, business-to-business and business-to-citizen services – things unheard of for the rural population, across India.
Today as a pioneer of E-Governance in India, Tamil Nadu has a unique leadership position in transparency and efficiency. The result was greater power to the people at the grass roots – During his tenure a major portion of the local government of Tamil Nadu’s records such as land ownership etc were digitized and the important offices of the state government such as the Urban Local Bodies, Municipal Office activities, revenue collection, the Corporations etc, transport offices, land registration offices and several others were computerized.
A stickler for transparency in operations and quality services, MK Stalin as Minister for Local Administration made significant contributions to:
- Rural Employment Guarantee
- Women's Self-help groups
- Rural Water Supply Programme
- Panchayat Union School Renovation Scheme
- Combined Water Supply Schemes
- Under Ground Sewerage Schemes
- Urban Water Supply Schemes
- Rural Development and Panchayat Raj
- Safety Equipment Scheme
- Water Supply to Chennai City Scheme
- Rural Development and Local Administration
- Krishna Water Supply Scheme
- Special Welfare Schemes for women of marriageable age
- Special Initiatives for small entrepreneurs
- Major Projects to improve Urban and Rural infrastructure
- Under Ground Sewerage Scheme
- Urban Water Supply Scheme
- Combined Water Supply Scheme
- Rural Water Supply Programme
- History in the making, in Village Panchayats