The Demand for Dravida Nadu
- 1938 to 1944 -
Tamil Renaissance and Dravidian Nationalism
Courtesy: Nambi Arooran, K., Professor & Head of Department of History,
Madurai Kamraj University
"...the Justice Party Confederation in which E.V.R.
put forward his demand for a separate Tamilnad was held at Madras in
December 1938.... (Later) The Justice Party was renamed the Dravidar
Kazhagam at a conference held in Salem in September 1944, when the demand
for Dravidanad was given substance and a definite scheme for establishing
the new state was put forward...The creation of Dravidanad as a separate
sovereign state continued to be the main object of the Dravidar Kazhagam and
its offshoot the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (founded in 1949) till 1963 when
the Indian Constitution was amended specially to make a demand for secession
a criminal act, and since then the demand was given up"
Anna�s Birth Centennial Anthology:Anna in the Dock
- Sachi Sri Kantha]
Plea for a Tamil Province came for the first time in October 1938...
Who is a Tamilian?...
separation of Tamilnad as the principal demand of the Justice Party after
Second World War...
Dravidanad and link with M.A.Jinnah...
Separation Conference at Conjeevaram in June 1940...
Support of M.A.Jinnah for
It was a question how much
support Dravidanad demand received from Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam
language speaking peoples...
In 1943 and 1944 leaders of
the Justice Party continued to argue for the separation of Dravidanad...
Justice Party renamed Dravidar Kazhagam in September 1944...
Madras Presidency under British Rule
Plea for a Tamil Province
came for the first time in October 1938...
The plea for a Tamil Province as an alternative to the alleged
exploitation of Tamils by Brahmins and Northern Indians, came for the first time
from E.V.R., then leader of the Self-Respect Movement, at a meeting held at
Salem in October 1938.
He said that " if the Congress permitted the exploitation of
Tamils by Brahmins and Northern Indians, the best way to preserve the liberty of
Tamils was to agitate for separation from the rest of India and the proposed
All-India Federation, just as Ceylon and Bulma had chosen to stand aloof from
India ", and " urged the need for the ' Tamilnad for the Tamils ' campaign to be
fought to the finish."
Earlier in August, an association called ' Tamil teca vitutalai
carikam' (Tamilnad Liberation Association) was formed at Trichinopoly with T. P.
Vedachalam, a leader of the Justice Party, as President. At the second session
of the Ramnad District Tamilians Conference at Karaikudi it was resolved " to
work for the formation of a separate Tamil province, exclusively for Tamilians,
and the use of Tamil as the administrative language". Thus from the middle of
1938 onwards the idea of a separate Tamil province began to engage the attention
of non-Brahmin leaders.
.... it was in the same period that the anti-Hindi agitation was
also launched by the followers of the Self-Respect Movement and the Justice
Party. The allegation that the introduction of compulsory Hindi meant the
indirect imposition of Sanskrit over Tamil, Aryans over Dravidians and Brahmins
over non-Brahmins, was assigned as the main argument for the demand for a
separate Tamil province where the interests of Tamil and the Tamils would be
safe-guarded. But a change in the character of the demand may be noticed when
E.V.R. suggested that the Tamils should agitate for separation from the rest of
India. This approach differed from that of the Congress Party's conception of
E.V.R. was chosen leader of the Justice Party soon after his
imprisonment in December 1938 for his part in the anti-Hindi agitation. He was
also chosen to preside over the 14th Confederation of the Justice Party at
Madras in December 1938.
His presidential address was delivered in absentia in which he
analyzed the meaning of the word 'nation' and pointed out its
inapplicability to Indian conditions.
He stressed the validity of the centrifugal forces in India and
pointed out the separation of Burma and the creation of new provinces such as
Orissa and Sind. Secondly, he pointed to the inconsistency in the Congress
attitude towards the demand for 'Tamil Nad for Tamilians'. On the one hand the
Congress favoured the claims of Sindis, Gujeratis and Andhras and on the other
opposed the demand of Tamilians. E.V.R. said: "In the political sphere, people
are being exploited in the name of 'nationalism', even as in the religious
sphere the promise of 'Moksha' is used to delude them."
Who is a
Opening the Madura District Tamilians Conference at Nilakottah,
Madura District, A.T. Pannireselvam, a leader of the Justice Party and a member
of the Madras Legislative Assembly, referred to the consternation prevailing
over the Aryan and Dravidian question and the plea of 'Tamilnad for Tamilians'
and said that by urging that Tamilnad should be for the Tamilians they did not
mean that the Brahmins were to be driven away or persecuted and that there was
room both for the Aryans from the North and the English from the West but as
At the Conference the Kumararaja of Chettinad, M.A.Muthiah
Chettiar, hoisted the Tamil Flag and said that "the flag was the symbol of
the great Chera, Chola and Pandiyan dynasties of Tamilnad", and appealed to
the audience "to keep aloft the high ideals and traditions of the Tamils".
Thus a flag symbolising the past glory of Tamilnad became a symbol of
expression for the proposed Tamil Province.
A different explanation of the terms 'Tamilian' and 'Tamilnad'
was given by S. Muthiah Mudaliar, a former Minister and a leader of the Justice
Party, at the Tinnevely District Tamilian Conference at Tuticorin. According to
him, the term Tamilian would include "anyone who had Tamil as his mother tongue,
loved the Tamils, and attempted or desired to promote Tamil", irrespective of
their being Muslims, Christians and Hindus - Brahmins and non-Brahmins.
Muthiah Mudaliar added that the term Tamil was a comprehensive
name, which included its sister languages, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada, and
that the term Tamilnadu, understood in a limited sense, was confined to the
southern districts but according to its extended significance, it included the
whole of the Madras Presidency. Thus there was no consensus as to what
constituted Tamilnad, and who precisely were the Tamilians.
of Tamilnad as the principal demand of the Justice Party after Second World
E.V.R. put forward economic arguments in raising the slogan
'Tamilnad for Tamilians'. Speaking at Kumbakonam, he said that he did not want
Gujeratis and Marwaris to settle in Tamilnad for a few years, exploit the poor
and then go away to upper India with their money and enrich the industries
there. He cited the case of Burma and pointed out that Burma was happy after
separation and so he wanted that Tamilnad should be separated from the rest of
India to build up its own economic future.
As the leader of the Justice Party, speaking at Tuticorin,
E.V.R. explained the war aims of the Justice Party. He observed that
separation of Tamilnad from the rest of the Indian continent would be the
principal demand of the Party when the question of granting further
constitutional reforms to India was taken up after the Second World War.
He said that this party would offer unconditional support for
Britain and that "British raj, undoubtedly is [was] better than Brahmin raj. He
alleged that Brahmins wished success for Hitler because both belonged to the
same Aryan race and that Tamilian had nothing in common with Aryans and as such
they could not dream of supporting an Aryan.
The Mail (15 Nov 1939) in a leader entitled 'The Justice
Party's War Aims' criticised the war aims of the Justice Party and said that
it was "sad to see a once great political party declining into a narrow and
separatist sect". The Mail posed to E.V.R. a series of questions relating to
the proposed Tamilnad such as its geographical boundaries, the status of
non-Tamils, and its foreign and defence policies. The Mail considered the
scheme of E.V.R. as "utterly impracticable" and said that it would be wrong
to believe that a relatively weak Tamil State could be happier when
independent than as a member of the federation.
Definition of Dravidanad and link with M.A.Jinnah...
To the criticisms levelled against his scheme of a Dravidian
State, E.V.R. replied in detail in a letter to the editor of the Mail (20 Nov
1939). His definition of Dravidanad lay on linguistic bases in the same manner
as the Congress demanded linguistic bases in the same manner as the Congress
demanded linguistic bases in the same manner as the Congress demanded linguistic
provinces. But, for E.V.R. the concept was a Dravidian Federation which
compromised all areas where the four major Dravidian languages were spoken. His
definition of Dravidians included all people who inhabited those areas -
"Muslims, Christians, Depressed classes and all 'Hindus' except Brahmins who
call themselves Aryans." As to the problem of non-Tamilians [meaning Brahmins]
would be duly protected and properly safeguarded. As regards the problems of
defence and foreign relations of the proposed Dravidian State, he recognised the
need of British help for an interim period.
From the beginning of 1940 E.V.R. added a new
dimension to his theory of Dravidanad by joining hands with M.A. Jinnah and
supporting the Muslim League's demand for a separate Muslim State.
In January 1940, at the invitation of the non-Brahmin citizens
of Bombay, E.V.R. visited Bombay where he met Jinnah and B.R. Ambedkar, Leader
of the Depressed classes. Speaking in Tamil at Dharavi, Bombay, E.V.R. said that
he was disgusted with the Brahmin domination which "had crushed the spirit of
the masses and kept them under religious, economic, social and political
subjection". E.V.R. held that Brahmins were not Tamilians and that they were
foreigners. He argued that in order to get the province freed from Brahmins the
only remedy was to create Tamilnad into a separate state like Burma. He pointed
out that Tamilnad had a population as large as that of England and that in area
it was as large as Germany, with a culture, tradition and civilization of its
own, and that it could well constitute an independent nation.
It was reported that E.V.R met Jinnah and that "he discussed
with him the possibilities of joint action by parties opposed to Congress".
Later speaking at Madras E.V.R. referred to his meeting with Jinnah and said
that "there need not be fear among any one that they have entered into some
alliance". At the Lahore session of the Muslim League in March 1940, a
resolution was passed demanding that "areas where Muslims were numerically in a
majority as in the north-western and eastern zones of India, should be grouped
to constitute an independent state in which the constituent units would be
autonomous and sovereign".
From the time of the passing of the Lahore resolution the
relationship between the Justice Party and the Muslim League became more
intimate. Since the founding of the Justice Party, Muslim members had taken an
active part in it for according to the definition of the term 'Non-Brahmins'
given by the Justice Party, Muslims were included along with Christians and
Hindu non-Brahmins. On the other hand the Muslims, forming a small fraction of
the population in the Tamil districts, found a friendly ally in the Justice
Party in opposing the Congress party. This alignment was further strengthened
when the two parties began to demand separate states from the proposed Indian
Federation to be formed after the departure of the British.
At a joint meeting of the Justice Party and the Muslim League at
Madura, Justice Party members suggested that they must seek Jinnah's help in
achieving a Dravidian State. A. Ponnambalanar, a leader of the Self-Respect
Movement and the Justice Party, announced that Jinnah had promised E.V.R. that
he would tour Tamil districts for a month in April or May 1940 and support the
demands for a Dravidanad. Speaking at Erode in support of Jinnah's partition
scheme, E.V.R. said:
"Mr Jinnah's scheme for a separate state for the Muslims in
India is to be viewed as the sanest way of settling the baffling
Hindu-Muslim problem.... Mr Jinnha's proposal for a partition of India as
Muslim India and Hindu India has not come as a surprise to me for I have
been urging for the separation of Dravidanad from the rest of India for the
last twenty years."
C.N. Annadurai, then organising secretary of the Justice Party,
was critical of the view held by many politicians and scholars that the idea of
a separate sovereign state for Dravidians was copies from the example of the
Muslim League's demand for Pakistan.
It was pointed out that it was chronologically wrong as well
to say that E.V.R copied the idea from the Muslim League for the Lahore
session of the Muslim League was held in March 1940 whereas the Justice
Party Confederation in which E.V.R. put forward his demand for a separate
Tamilnad was held at Madras in December 1938.
At the fifth Coimbatore District Justice Party Conference held
at Erode in April 1940, a resolution was passed stating that the demand for
separate national units proposed at the Lahore session of the Muslim League had
been caused by the fear and distrust created in the minds of all non-Congress
people by the twenty-seven month's Congress regime, and the Government was
requested to consider the necessity of the separation of Dravidanad from the
rest of India when such a partition takes place.
Dravidanad Separation Conference at Conjeevaram in June 1940...
Speaking at Ootacamund, E.V.R. said that he was convinced that
India would never become a nation as the interests of one community were against
those of others and that therefore it would serve no useful purpose by
compelling these numerous interests to joint together. He added that they should
be allowed a separate existence, and that the Aryans had no right to compel them
(the Dravidians) to accept a certain political formula because they did not
belong to Tamilnad.
He stated that the Aryans "like the Jews" had come to Tamilnad
"only to exploit the Dravidians." At Kumbakonam, E.V.R. again argued that the
separation of Dravidanad from the rest of India was a historical and racial
necessity, that Aryans and Dravidians had never mixed and that they had
continued to live separately and the cultures of the two races could never meet.
It may not be fully correct to say that the two cultures had never mingled over
the centuries for in the process of caste mobilization the fusion had taken
place from early times.
A Dravidanad Separation Conference was held at Conjeevaram
(Kancipuram - Chingleput District) in June 1940 in which E.V.R. unveiled a map
of Dravidanad showing "the whole of South India, Andhra Desa and Deccan (with
the exception of Hyderabad), all the Eastern coast line of India, including a
portion of Bengal".
Speakers at the conference appealed for support for the British
Government in the War in all possible way, forecast the division of British
India into linguistic provinces after the War, and urged the formation of a
Dravidanad at that time. E.V.R. said that "Conjeevaram, which was giving them
such solid support was likely to become the capital of the future Dravidanad,
even as it was the capital of the ancient Tamil kings".
Such references to historical facts and symbols were often made
in order to derive the emotional and sentimental support of the people. The
Government itself was no exception to this for the Governor in reporting the
working of the District War Committees said that the Pentane flag had been
associated with the District War Committee's work in Madura.
Support of M.A.Jinnah for Dravidanad...
Since the Lahore session of the Muslim League in which the
demand for a separate Muslim State was put forward, the Justice Party began to
work closely with the Muslim League in the Tamil Districts in order to derive
mutual strength for their demand of a separate Dravidanad. Speaking at the
Muslim League Conference at Ambur, North Arcot District, E.V.R. said that at
that critical time non-Brahmins could look for help only from one quarter and
that was from Mr Jinnah. He appealed that all communities should give Jinnah
unqualified support and strengthen his hand.
The Governor also noted the close alliance between the Justice
Party and the Muslim League and in a report referred to the address of E.V.R. at
the South Arcot District Muslim League Conference supporting the Pakistan scheme
and urging the partition of South India in favour of the Dravidians. In another
report the Governor pointed out the close alliance between the Muslim League and
Justice Party in Municipal politics which enabled them to get a majority on the
Madras City Council.
The 28th Annual session of the All-India Muslim League
Conference was held in Madras in April 1941. In his presidential address Jinnah
discussed the two-nation theory and referred to the demand for the recognition
of a third nation - Dravidastan - in South India. He promised his
"fullest sympathy" an "fullest support to the non-Brahmins."
The support extended by Jinnah to the demand for a separate
Dravidanad added strength to the Justice Party and to E.V.R. personally. In
terminology the word 'Dravidastan' was coined as a counterpart to 'Pakistan'.
Speaking at a Justice Party meeting in Madras, E.V.R. said that the visit of
Jinnah to Madras had created an awakening among Tamilians, and that it would be
of great mutual help if Tamilians and Muslim Leaguers worked together to achieve
When the Second World War spread to different parts of the world
and the position of the allies became more critical by the middle of 1941,
E.V.R. announced at a meeting in Madura that it had been decided to temporarily
stop their agitation for Dravidastan so that they could concentrate on war
efforts. Besides the demands put forward in meetings for a Dravidanad there was
hardly any kind of agitation such as the one staged against Hindi. Hence
E.V.R.'s announcement that the agitation was being suspended in view of the
intensity of war had no relevance and in fact he continued to advocate the
Dravidanad demand in public meetings as before. In May 1942, C.R. announced his
formula conceding the principle of Pakistan. E.V.R. speaking at Erode criticised
C.R. for nourishing the hope that he would be able to form a National Government
in the Madras Presidency and said that just as he conceded Pakistan to Muslims
he should "come to terms with the majority community" in South India.
It was a
question how much support Dravidanad demand received from Telugu, Kannada
and Malayalam language speaking peoples...
It was a question how much support the demand for Dravidanad
received from Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam language speaking peoples. Among the
leading members of the Justice Party itself there were many who doubted at the
support of the Andhras, Kannadigas and Malayalis for the proposed Dravidanad
scheme of E.V.R.
For example, S. Somasundara Bharati, presiding over the
Chingleput District Justice Party Conference, said that their salvation lay in
making this movement for the separation of Tamilnad more dynamic, that HE that
he had not much faith that Andhras and Malayalis would fall in line with them,
and that therefore he suggested not to agitate with them, for Dravidastan, but
confine themselves to the separation of Tamilnad. E.V.R. was also quite
conscious of the limitations of his scheme and speaking at Coimbatore he said
that even if Andhras, Malayalis and Kannadigas did not want to be in
Dravidastan, Tamils could afford to live independently as they numbered two
After the failure of the Cripps Mission Gandhi demanded the
"orderly and timely British withdrawal from India" and gave the slogan 'Quit
India' in April 1942. C.N. Annadurai characterised Gandhi's 'Quit India'
campaign against the British as "a huge hoax" and added that, in case the
campaign met with any measure of success, Tamils would instantly start a
vigorous 'Quit Aryans' propaganda, to rid Dravidanad of the Aryans. He added
that the need of the hour was to press home to the people that Dravidians were
not Hindus, and that there would be no lasting peace in the country unless India
was divided into three main parts, namely, "Pakistan, Aryastan (or Hindustan)
In 1943 and
1944 leaders of the Justice Party continued to argue for the separation of
In 1943 and 1944 leaders of the Justice Party continued to argue
for the separation of Dravidanad from the rest of India. P. Balasubramanian,
editor of the Sunday Observer, in a statement at Trichinopoly in May 1944 said
that the granting of Dravidastan would in no way disintegrate India and that a
Federation of Socialist Republics of States for India would be preferable to
Dominion Status. Speaking at the South Arcot District Dravidian Conference at
Tiruppapuliyur (Cuddalore - Old Town), E.V.R. said: "Those who objected to the
granting of Pakistan were now considering the forum in which it should be
established. So also the demand for Dravidastan would be heard."
It may be observed that E.V.R. and other leaders of the Justice
Party fully endorsed the demand of the Muslim League for Pakistan and in turn
expected the League's support for Dravidanad. As pointed out earlier Jinnah
readily extended his support when he presided over the Muslim League Conference
at Madras in April 1941. But subsequently when Jinnah started his negotiations
with the Congress leaders and the Government of India he referred always to the
partition of India into two independent states - Pakistan and Hindustan - and he
hardly ever referred to Dravidastan. Therefore Jinnah's earlier assurances to
E.V.R. and the Justice Party were nothing but mere political expediency.
Justice Party renamed Dravidar Kazhagam in September 1944...
The Justice Party was renamed the Dravidar Kazhagam (Tiravitar
Kalakam - Dravidian Association) at a conference held in Salem in September
1944, when the demand for Dravidanad was given substance and a definite scheme
for establishing the new state was put forward.
Explaining the aims and objects of the renamed party at a
meeting in Madras E.V.R. said that he wanted Dravidanad to be a fully
independent sovereign state with the status of a Dominion and that the Governor
or the Viceroy would not have authority over the new State except as the King's
representative. He added that the Dravidanad would be separated from the rest of
India and that citizens of other parts would be regarded as foreigners and would
be subjected to the same passport restrictions as were imposed upon citizens of
He also said that tariff duties and other restrictions would be
imposed on goods entering Dravidanad in order to prevent "looting of South India
wealth in the name of commerce, industry and religion". In the sphere of social
reform E.V.R. said that social inequalities would be abolished by social
The Mail in a leader entitled 'Complete Independence' criticised
these proposals of E.V.R. and pointed out that he did not deal with "the complex
issue of defence or still more complicated problem of independent Dravidanad's
relations with other countries, including the rest of India."But the Mail
regarded the demand for a separate Dravidanad as a manifestation of 'popular
discontent' and observed that it should not be dismissed in a lighter vein for
"it may gather force and power in the same way as the once-derided idea of
Pakistan has done".
Analyzing the causes for such a 'popular discontent', the Mail
referred to the contention of E.V.R. and his followers that "they [Dravidians]
have been kept in a state of intellectual and social subjection by the
machinations of the Aryans". Referring to the attitude of the Dravidar Kazhagam
towards social issues the Mail expected it to recognise the "right of all
communities, classes and castes to equality of opportunity, economic, social and
political", and also accord to the Scheduled Classes," as high respect and
honour as to the highest castes". In the end the Mail appealed to the
politicians not to underestimate the potency of the idea of a separate
Dravidanad, more particularly when that idea was intended to appeal directly to
the pride and self-esteem of a vast number of people.
From the foregoing discussion of the demand for a separate
Dravidanad during the period under survey (up to 1944) the following conclusions
E.V.R. himself pointed out that his conception of Dravidanad was
nothing new and that it was only an extension of the Congress Party's idea of
dividing India after independence into linguistic provinces. As a first step the
Congress Provincial Committees were formed on a linguistic basis in 1920.
But it was E.V.R. who extended the philological family name
'Dravidian' to connote a separate political entity comprising the land and the
people where the four major Dravidian languages were spoken. Thus E.V.R.'s
conception of Dravidanad was based on the presumption that the Dravidian
non-Brahmins who spoke the four Dravidian languages -Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and
Malayalam - were of a racial stock and culture which distinguished them from the
Aryan-Brahmin. This was again not an innovation of E.V.R. for such a racial
explanation formed the fundamental creed of the non-Brahmin Movement and of the
Justice Party. Here again the support for E.V.R.'s propaganda for Dravidanad was
minimal from the linguistic regions other than Tamil.
The second presupposition of E.V.R. in formulating his scheme of
a Dravidian State was that it would be a haven for non-Brahmin-Dravidians from
the alleged domination of Brahmin-Aryans. Here again E.V.R. was extending his
main objective of the Self-Respect Movement, namely the complete elimination of
the alleged exploitation by Brahmins in the name of religion and the caste
system. In other words E.V.R.'s anti-Brahmin principles became also the basis
for his claim of a Dravidian Federation.
Two important factors may be said to have made E.V.R. think
deeply in terms of a separate Dravidanad. Firstly, the anti-Hindi agitation and
secondly, the Pakistan demand by the Muslim League. It was the anti-Hindi
agitation that made the Tamils more conscious of the heritage of their language
and culture and the idea of a separate state to protect them gained ground. The
Lahore session of the Muslim League and the demand for Pakistan added strength
to the nascent regional Dravidian Nationalism. Leaders of either party began to
talk in terms of mutual sympathy and support.
The choice of E.V.R. as the leader of the Justice Party in the
wake of the Anti-Hindi agitation led to the fusion of the Self-Respect Movement
and the Justice Party. As a result anti-Brahminism and communalism once again
became basic ideologies in party politics and the demand for a separate
Dravidanad was mainly based on these ideologies. The creation of Dravidanad as a
separate sovereign state continued to be the main object of the Dravidar
Kazhagam and its offshoot the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (founded in 1949) till
1963 when the Indian Constitution was amended specially to make a demand for
secession a criminal act, and since then the demand was given up.
Madras Presidency under British Rule included Tamil Nadu
and parts of what are Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kerala