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Self-respect Movement

The self-respect movement sowed its seed during the Indian freedom struggle. At the earlier stage Backward Class movement meant the non-Brahmin movement. The non -Brahmin movement had two aims

  • Demanding the sanction of more concessions and privileges (which would cause discrimination against the Brahmins) to surpass Brahmins in education and social status.
  • Achieving "Swayam Maryada or self-respect.

This movement formed a part of the many social reforms occurred during that period. Periyar E.V Ramaswami was the leader of this movement. It was a popular movement, which occurred in Tamil Nadu in 1925.Its main aim was to improve upon the socio-economic conditions of the low castes Tamils. Later it had profound implications. The main objectives of this movement were inculcation and dissemination of knowledge of political education. Right to lead life with dignity and self-respect and do away with the exploitative system based on superstitions and beliefs. Abolition of the evil social practices and protection of women rights. Establishment and maintenance of homes for orphans and widow and opening of educational institutions for them. This movement gained popularity in no time and became a political platform.

Ramaswami Naicker founded the Dravida Kazhagam in 1945.In 1949 C.Annadurai founded the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam-DMK which completely wiped out the domination of the Brahmins in TamilNadu.The D.K under the leadership of Naicker continue to pursue anti-Brahmanism in social and cultural fields. Thus the aim of the Backward Class Movement at this stage was to limit the Brahmin monopoly in the two fields of education and appointment to government posts. This movement was by no means a mass movement. The opposition to Brahmin dominance did not come from the low and the oppressed castes but from the leaders of the powerful rural dominant castes such as Reddy and Kammas in Andhra,Vokkaligas and Lingayats in Karnataka etc.These were high caste groups with a social position next to the Brahmins. They included not only the Hindus but also the Muslims, Christians and other communities who also suffered from the same social disabilities.