self respect movement

Self Respect Movement

The self-respect movement was an Anti-Brahmin, anti-caste Movement led by Erode Venkatappa Ramasamy (EVR) in Tamil Nadu. He was also known as Periyar (Title conferred by Tamilnadu Women Conference, 1938).

He also led Dravidar Kazhagam. He is known as the ‘Father of the Dravidian movement‘.

Although the Self-respect movement started in 1925, the background for the movement began developing in 1916 itself. This movement was relatively violent as compared to other anti-caste movements that took place in southern India. It was also known as the Dravidian movement. Periyar was also the founder of the Justice Party (South Indian Libertarian Federation, 1916).

In Tamil Nadu, the Brahmins were in minority in terms of number. Out of all the Brahmins, the Iyers and Iyengers were in the dominant position. Even after being in minority the Brahmins had control over land and were powerful. The caste structure in south-India has remained different compared to the North. Society was divided into Brahmins, non-Brahmins, and Adi-Dravid. The Adi-Dravid was considered to be the most inferior. Because of this, they had to face a number of civil and religious disabilities.

According to Ramasamy, exploitation becomes possible only because of the feeling of inferiority and superiority. When a particular caste group is considered to be superior as compared to others, the caste which is considered inferior accepts it as a reality. It is mainly because of the absence of self-respect. Hence, caste-based discrimination and exploitation can be eliminated only by eliminating this feeling of inferiority. This was possible only through self-respect. Hence, this self-respect movement was an attempt to create self-consciousness among the Adi-Dravid.

E.V. Ramasamy said that Gandhi and Nehru are misguiding the people by mobilizing them in order to achieve political freedom. According to him, political freedom is meaningless in absence of social freedom. He believed that caste is the root cause behind this social discrimination and caste itself is rooted in the Hindu religion. Hence, he not only rejected caste as a system but also rejected Hinduism as a religion. In the self-respect movement, the Brahmins were publically humiliated which resulted in mass migration. The movement got support financially from people of Tamil origin living in south-Asia and other parts of the world.

Gradually, the movement became political. In 1949 C.N. Annadurai created a political party known as DMK in 1972, and from the same political party AIADMK emerged.

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