E.V.Ramasamy is famously called Periyar. He was born in 1879 in a rich family that does business in Erode.
Periyar questioned superstitious beliefs even in his young days. He became Chairman of Erode Municipality. E.V.Ramasamy fought against various social evils and superstitious beliefs such as the enslavement of women.
As he fought against the social evil and his wisdom he was called “Thanthai Periyar”. He was a follower of Mahatma Gandhi and joined the congress and actively participated in various social reform activities and freedom movements.
E.V. Ramasamy found that the congress was dominated by Brahmin in the 1920s. And he took the Congress to every class of people such as down trod and organized temple entry movements.
He criticized the congress that practised Varnashrama and left the congress party. Then he went on to join the Justice Part and created the Self Respect Movement. He then went on to become inseparable from the Politics of India and Tamil Nadu.
Periyar Quotes on Nationalism
“In the name of the nation, if a group of people exploit other groups that are not the real freedom which a nation fought for“, said Periyar.
He was strongly against Nationalism, Race, the Concept of Nation, etc. According to Periyar, all the Nation, Nationality, and Nationalism are the same concepts, one who differentiates from these concepts indicates “Self Respect“.
“If anybody speaks about nationalism in Tamil Nadu, I wonder, that will they think about welfare or botheration about people” said Periyar.
“Those people who nationalism was not bothered about the Indians, Tamilians, and the self-respect of the people, they make people believe in Nationalism for their own welfare“.
“If self-respect is submerged in the name of nation and nationalism that will be the crime against India“, stated Periyar.
Periyar a Social Reformer
Periyar today is an ideology, Dravidian Ideology. He is the Idol of Dravidian Politics in Tamil Nadu. These Dravidian Politics championed Social Equality, Self-Respect, and Linguistic pride in the country.
Periyar as the social reformer made reforms on social, cultural, and gender inequalities and questioned religious things such as faith, gender, and tradition. He asked people to question religions and customs.
Periyar is mainly a feminist, who argued that Women should be Independent, not mere Child Bearers. Periyar fought for Women, to give equality in employment.
Fought for property rights from Parents and as well from the Husband in case of divorce. Fought for Divorce rights for women.
Self Respect Movement and Idea Behind the Movement
Periyar asked people to give up the caste suffix in their names. He encouraged inter-dining, that is different caste and different religious people are made to eat food in the same place.
Periyar promoted marriages without rituals and dowry. Dalits and Muslims were made to cook food in public conferences.
Due to his social reforms in Religion, Caste, and voice for Feminism, he is famously called Thanthai Periyar, the father figure of Modern Tamil Nadu.
Periyar views about Nationalism
Periyar said that Nationalism is a fake feeling, it is because Nationalism is a conspiracy by rich and power-centred people, who create negative emotions in people and propagation to control the rights of the poor people.
For example, If the people in power, constantly speak about Chinese and Pakistan’s aggression on the border, nobody or no media will care about poor people who do not even have food to eat.
“Nationalism has become a buzzword of addictiveness and emotionalism for the people”, he exclaimed. He made a speech in Sri Lanka, where he strongly opposed Nationalism. Nationalism made people scapegoated by capitalist people and misused their feeling of people.
For example, If business class people in the USA, have clashed with UK businessmen in their country, then US people say, Oh People because of Britons our country is under threat. Such kind of false words is only for their economic advancement and not for the poor communities.
He saw Russia, where there are many Races and cultural groups but there is no discrimination in that nation. He also supported the communist revolution. These nations were free of Nationalism, religion, and God. Also, may not be affected by luxurious lifestyles, poverty, and exploitation by the rich community.
Also, people from developed countries may not stick with national and godly attachments. Equality and egalitarian society is the only priority of that place, there is no discrimination between rich-poor, owner-worker, powerful-powerless in that region.
He also found that those people of high value and egalitarian-longing are not equal to the nation which gives priority to God and Nationalism. By showing other nations as evidence, Periyar also criticized Indian Nationalistic feelings and Patriotism Because these feelings are exploited as weapons by certain dominant groups.
Periyar on Dravidanadu
Whether “Nation” a concept suitable for India? Periyar raised a pertinent question and answer as well.
“Madras is not a separate nation and cannot function separately,” says some of our friends. Once ‘Madras’ as a nation, Also now, “Dravidam” it is. The culture and other practices are different from Bengal and Mumbai. The English language is the main base for familiarity among these different nations in India.
If the British Empire and its language are relieved from India, Hindi may become the national language. Instead of calling India a nation, Dravida Nadu, Andhra, and Bengal can be separately called nations respectively.
For example, the Dravidian nation had its culture, language, civilization, and rule for thousands of years in accordance with historical facts. Undoubtedly it is known to all the people. “Dravidian Nationalism”, proposed by Periyar was to a large extent against religious domination.
Periyar Stand on Languages
Each and everyone has their own right to protect their language. These rights can be protected and provided under Dravida, Socialist Republic Rule. No language can be enforced. Language should not be misused as a weapon for separatism. If people are dependent upon Central rule for all kinds of amenities, there is no outcome in it.
If languages are officialized at the Central level, with the poor people be relieved of hunger? To put it in a clear way, are Tamil Labourers exploited only by the Tamil Speaking owner class?
Periyar on Casteless Society
Periyar’s protests and speeches always centre around, “Tamilnadu for Tamils and Dravidian nation for Dravidians.” His ideologies include a Common plan, a common work plan, Islamic conversion, separate Dravidian nation for which he fought against the dominant communities.
His argument was that the dominant communities misused Tamil, Tamil nationalism, and the Tamil race for sustaining the power in Tamilnadu. It is with the help of Tamil leaders, that they injected Tamil nationalism into the minds of the people for holding the power for a long time he said.
Consequently, Periyar put an end to the demand for separate Tamilnadu and upheld the idea of a casteless society. Thus, casteless society has become the topmost priority for Periyar. Other ideals like the separate Dravidian nation, abounding dominant communities, and distortion of capitalist class became secondary priorities for Periyar.
This may be the only ambition and goal for Dravida Kazhagam, claimed Periyar. “The caste feeling, thus divided the Dravidian race and Dravidians became slaves for Aryans” stated Periyar in his writings published in the 1950s in Tamilnadu.