Dravidar Kazhagam

The Birth of a Revolution

The Justice Party's provincial conference held in Salem on 27th August 1944 marked a turning point in Periyar's movement. The name of the Party was changed as Dravidar Kazhagam. The members were asked to give up the posts, positions and titles conferred by the British rulers. They were also required to drop the caste suffix of their names. It was also decided that the members of the movement should not contest the elections. In other words, the Justice Party, which was political, was transformed into Dravidar Kazhagam and became a non-political socio-cultural movement. It remains so even today.

It was in the historic Salem conference, Periyar allowed Mr. K.Veeramani, the present President of Dravidar Kazhagam, who had not yet completed 11 years then, to stand on the table and address the gathering. Arignar Anna introduced him to the audience as the ThiruGnanasambandar of the Self-respect movement. (Gnanasambandar was a precocious devotee and composer of hymns in Tamil in the Saivite lore).

In the last week of December 1944 and in the first week of January 1945, Periyar undertook a tour of North India. On 27th December 1944, he spoke in a conference of the Radical Democratic Party in Calcutta (Kolkota). M.N.Roy introduced him to those assembled as his atheist preceptor. In 1945, a volunteer corps of black shirts was organised.The Dravidar Kazhagam flag, in the ratio of 3: 2, a red circle in the middle in the black background, was adopted in 1946. The black represented the deprivations and the indignities to which the Dravidians are subjected to under the Hindu religious milieu. The red stands for the determined efforts to dispel the ignorance and blind faith among the people and to liberate them materially and mentally from all kinds of exploitation, particularly those of social and cultural.

A two-day conference of black-shirt volunteer corps was organised in Madurai in May 1946. On the second day the pandal was burnt down at the instigation of Brahminical Hindu Sanathanis. In the same year on 9th December, Periyar raised his sure voice against the manner in which the Constituent Assembly was constituted.Periyar declared that 15 August 1947, when India became politically free, was a day of mourning because the event marked, in his opinion, only a transfer of power to the Brahmin - Bania Combine, whose socio-cultural domination, in addition to economic exploitation, would be worse than the British rule. He also viewed the adoption of the Republican Constitution of India in 1950 in a similar vein.

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