Dravidar Kazhagam

The Birth of a Revolution

Though he had basic differences with Mahatma Gandhi, Periyar was terribly grieved when he fell a victim to the bullets of a religious fundamentalist of the Hindutva variety on 30th January 1948. He even suggested on the occasion that India should be renamed as Gandhi Naadu.The Congress government of Madras Province banned the black-shirt volunteer corps in March 1948. But that only made Dravidar Kazhagam more popular. As a result, more than a lakh of people, most of them in black shirts, assembled in the D.K.Conference held at Tuticorin on 8,9 May 1948. Periyar revived the agitation against Hindi when it was again introduced in the schools in June 1948. Though the authorities were stubborn in the initial stages and took stern steps against the agitations, they had to yield in course of time to the popular will and withdrew the scheme of compulsory study of Hindi.The firmly entrenched and deeply rooted social evils in India centre around the existence and perpetuation of the caste system known as Varna-Jaathi which forms a basic and inseparable part of the theory and practice of Hindu religion that sanctifies the stratified hierarchy or graded inequality. The beneficiaries of this social structure are the Brahminical upper castes.

Upper caste people who have enormous material resources and mental capabilities obtained through unjust privileges and exclusive traditional advantages. Those who work for the complete transformation of the social order have to wage an unequal war.

By his experience and serious thought, Periyar was convinced that the individuals and movements that undertake the task of eradicating the social evils in India have to pursue the goal with devotion and dedication without deviating from the path and with uncompromising zeal. If they contest elections aiming to assume political power, they would lose vigour and sense of purpose. But many among his followers had a different view. They wanted to enter into politics and have a share in running the government. They were looking for an opportunity to part with Periyar. When he married Maniammai on 9th July 1948, they quit Dravidar Kazhagam stating that Periyar had set a bad example by marrying a young woman in his old age - he was 70 and she 30. Those who parted company with Periyar formed DravidaMunnetraKazhagam - DMK, under the leadership of C.N.Annadurai (Arignar Anna).

Least perturbed by sentimental and motivated protests, Periyar marched on with redoubled vigour to find an enlightened egalitarian society.After the adoption of the Republican Constitution on 26th January 1950, Brahmins went to the Madras High Court and then to the Supreme Court in the same year asking for the discontinuance of the provision of reservation in educational institutions to the historically disadvantaged communities, on the plea that the provision violated the fundamental right to non-discrimination. The courts upheld the plea and declared reservations meant to promote Social Justice unconstitutional. Periyar organised meetings and conferences against the judgment, and also initiated agitations that gained momentum as days passed by. As a result, the Constitution {First Amendment Act} was passed in 1951 adding the Clause 40 the Article 15: "Nothing in this article or in clause (2) of Article 29 shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and_ Scheduled Tribes.

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