Social Reformers of Tamilnadu
During the 19th and 20th Centuries great leaders like VOC Subramaniya Bharathi, Bala Gangadhar Tilak, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Rajaji were actively involved in the Freedom Struggle. Some of the great leaders of Tamilnadu not only fought for political freedom but also for social freedom Political freedom has no meaning when people are denied social justice, self respect and dignity.
EV Ramasamy Periyar
EV Ramasamy Periyar was the greatest social reformers of Tamilnadu. He was the first leader, the country had ever seen to self respect, rationalism, women liberation and social equality in the minds of the people.
EV Ramasamy was born on September 17, 1879 in Erode in a very rich Hindu family. He got married at 13th year and renounced his life in his 19th year. By wearing saintly dress, he went to many holy places. He went to Kasi where he noticed that the Brahmins ill-treated the Non-Brahmins. He condemned it and returned to Tamilnadu. He joined the Congress in 1919 to realize his ideas. He was elected as the Secretary of Madras State Congress Committee in 1921 and its President in 1923. He joined the non-cooperation movement. He led the famous Vaikam Sathya Graha in 1924, where the people of downtrodden community were prohibited to enter into the Temple. Finally the Travancore government relaxed such segregation and allowed the people to enter into the temple. Hence Periyar was given the title of 'Vaikam Hero'
Periyar visited a school on Gurukulam style run at Shermandevi out of Congress funds. He noticed the segregation of Non-Brahmin students from the Brahmins by providing drinking water and food in seperate places. He protested against this anti-social practice and resigned the Secretary ship of Madras State Congress. He moved a resolution for reservation in government services for non-brahmins in the state Congress conference held at Kanchipuram But this was not allowed. So Periyar left the Conference and started Self Respect Movement in 1925 to spread and execute his ideas and policies.
Aims of social reformer EV Ramasamy
• The self respect movement condemned and fought against Brahmin domination over other castes, society, politics and religion.
• It fought to abolish traditionalism and superstitions.
• It advocated women education, widow remarriage, intercast marriages and opposed child marriage.
Achievements of social reformer EV Ramasamy
Periyar criticized the meaningless ideas, superstitions beliefs and unbelievable puranic stories in the public meetings. He spread self-respect principles through Kudiarasu, Puratchi, Viduthalai. He also published some books against social evils.
In order to check the growing population and to keep good health, he suggested the family planning. He also encouraged Tamil Script reform and suggested to adapt Roman Script to ensure easy learning. He was given the title of 'Periyar' by Ladies Conference held at Madras. In 1973 election, the Justice Party was defeated and its decline became inevitable. At Salem conference of 1944, the name of Justice Party was changed as Dravidar Kazhagam.
Periyar's ambitions were fulfilled by DMK and AIADMK. The DMK Government made self-respect marriage legal. It enacted widow Remarriage Act, Women's Right to Property Act, Abolition of Devadasi Act. Periyar wanted to legalise reservation in Educational Institutions for Backward Classes. The Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru responsed his suggestion and amended the Indian Constitution Article 15, the first amendment. Periyar died on 23rd December 1973.