Union Budget 2020 was flagged off by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman with pointed and articulated notes on the economy on Saturday, February 1. One of the most memorable parts of the speech was her reference to Tamil Poet Avvaiyar.
The Finance Minister's mention of the female poet came when she was addressing the issue of farmlands and how to provide optimum care for it. In her speech, she quoted Saint Avvaiyar and stated that farmlands should only have sufficient manure and water and but not an excessive amount. She mentioned the need to revise incentives for the use of chemical fertilisers.
When talking about increasing measures for organic fertilisers, she said ‘பூமி திருத்தி உண்’ which roughly translates to 'Cultivate the land and feed'.
The Finance Minister described Avvaiyar as a 'wise old woman' and a 'saint-poet who lived more than 3,000 years ago. She had used every letter of the Tamil alphabet to teach children moral lines - just 3 worded lines, they were called Aathichoodi. In her poems, she would talk about effective use of land, and that's exactly what our Prime Minister is aiming to achieve so that the farmlands use proper manure, not excessive manure', she said.
A female poet who lived during the Sangam period in Tamil Nadu, during the reign of the Chola dynasty, was considered to be an old and wise woman, a saint even, by some for her immeasurable contribution to Tamil literature. However, not much else is known about her. There are speculations that Avvaiyar was the title held by more than one woman. They were said to be active during different periods of Tamil literature.
Among them, the first Avvaiyar lived during the Sangam period (3rd century BCE) and is credited to have written as many as 59 poems in Purananuru, an anthology of 400 poems, contributed by 157 poets and 14 poetess during the Sangam era.
Notably, Avvaiyar may not even be her real name as her name is a combination of the Tamil words 'Avvai' which mean "old and respectable woman" and 'Ar' which is an honourary suffix.
Her most notable independent works include Aathichoodi, Konraiventhan, Mooturai and Nalvali - all written for women. All four works are educational in nature and explain the basic wisdom governing mundane life.
Headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Nirmala Sitharaman's speech mentioned various comprehensive measures implemented for the upcoming fiscal year beginning from April 1, 2020.
Union Cabinet Budget 2020 poses tremendous significance as the Indian economy continues to reel in multiple challenges, namely in the form of inflation, unemployment, farmer distress and a dip in GDP growth. The Finance Minister, while beginning her Budget speech, said the focus would be on increasing incomes and elevating purchasing power.