Sunday, August 14, 2011

Founding Members of Justice Party

P.Theogaraya Chetty

Dr. C. Natesa Mudaliar

Dr. T.M.Nair

It is not uncommon that suddenly someone drop the words 'Anti-Hindi Agitation' and 'Dravidian Movement' in a conversation. Especially, if the conversation is about Tamilians. I personally prefer the word 'Tamilians' than the word 'Tamil'; just like I prefer 'Burma' over 'Myanmar', 'Madras' over 'Chennai'.

It is fascinating to read about these movements, the moments that gave rise to the movements and the humans behind these movements. I decided to document what I read into a series of blog posts, following the footsteps of a 23rd century scholar who said the following about blogging:
..., the reward for running a blog is not readership as that cannot sustain. It should be something else. For me, it is my database.
I will try my best to collect the information and regurgitate it here; I am not a scholar and if you expect a scholarly objective unbiased coherent chronological observation , I urge you to stop reading and look else where. This is for casual reading, but by no means a dishonest effort to rewrite history. This is after all a blog. Please keep that in mind. You are not reading a History text book written by KAN Sastri.

If you are allergic or sensitive to jati, varna, caste, ethnicity, race, color, creed, gender, lingual differences, Christian Missionaries, Islam, Hindutva, British, Dravidian, Aryans, politically incorrect words, capitalism, socialism, communism etc, stop reading immediately. Go watch a feel good movie on Netflix (no I do not own Netflix shares, I wish I did)

Without using the words 'Brahmins' and 'Non-Brahmins', the subject matter can not be blogged. So you need to be uber insensitive to these sensitive words too.

With a such big unnecessary introduction, let us see the 'Founding Fathers' and key personnel of the Justice Party of India. Wikipedia lists 21 parties with the words "Justice Party" in them. India, Indonesia and UK each had two of them.

So why start with Justice Party? Because, if one has to understand the 'Anti-Hindi Agitation' or 'Dravidian Movements', one has to understand the Caste and Politics of South India - especially Tamil Nadu. One has to understand the origins of DMK and AIADMK. Before understanding DMK, one needs to read the Self-Respect Movement and Periyar. Before reading about Self-Respect Movement one has to read about the Justice Party, before understanding the Justice Party....well I got tired and stopped at the Justice Party.

Without more ado, the founding fathers of Justice Party (JP) were:
  1. T.M Nair
  2. Theagaroya Chetty
  3. C. Natesa Mudaliar
The Presidents of the party were:
  1. Theagaroya Chetty
  2. Raja of Panagal
  3. P.Munuswamy Naidu
  4. Raja of Bobbili
  5. E.V.Ramasam
  6. P.T.Rajan
Wikipedia says, the movement arose as a result of conferences and meetings in the Madras Presidency, in the late 19th and early 20th century, due to caste prejudices and disproportionate representation of brahmins in government jobs. See I told you we will be using the 'b' word.

Let us briefly look at each of the key members:

Taravath Madhavan Nair:
TMN was a doctor, his brother was a lawyer and his sister was a scholar. Doctor, Lawyer, Scholar, rhyme no? TMN was known in his circles as a physician, journalist, social reformer and politician. After completing his studies in India, he went to England and obtained lots of degrees in the medical field. Being a well read man, and coming from an educated family, he was prominent in politics and various clubs and societies. His sister was a Sanskrit and Malayalam scholar. His father was a lawyer in Calicut and became a Munsif later on. TMN studied Sanskrit in England while pursing his M.D. He returned to India and went on to hold several public office positions.

In those days, everybody was associated with Indian National Congress; and it so happens several of them became disenchanted with INC. How about a small detour and look at the evolution of INC. It won't take long, just a picture.

Moving on, TMN a surgeon on S.S.Madras during WWI. He campaigned for equal treatment of Indian Officers. In 1916, he lost elections. He was running for a position in Madras Corporation, and was beaten by Dewan Bahadur T. Rangachariar. The elections were darn important for TMN. He went on to lose two more elections to tamil brahmins. He accused tamil brahmins in INC to have caused him the elections. So we have a guy who was now pissed off at INC and brahmins - especially Tamil Brahmins. Though accused of being an Anglophile, he loved his Malayalam. He came from Nair family from Palghat ending up in Madras.

Pitti Theogaraya Chetty:
PTC, as I will call him, belonged a Telugu Chetty family from Madras. He was a lawyer, industrialist and a political leader. He went on to serve as the President of Corporation of Madras. He was one of the founding members of 'South India Chamber of Commerce'. Once PTC fought on behalf of the newspaper 'Indian Patriot' and its editor Karunakara Menon against, yes, T.M. Nair. PTC was actively involved in the various non-brahmin movements that were seeing the light of the day in that era.

C. Natesa Mudaliar:
CNM, for short, came from a Tamil Vellalar family. After passing out from Madras Medical College he began his medicine practice. However, he became involved in politics and social reform. He had once started a hostel for non-brahmin students in Madras Presidency, because he felt non-brahmin students did not get hostel accommodations in Madras. CNM was prominent in some of the non-brahmin movments in Madras Presidency those days.

Madras Presidency had several anti-brahmin movements, and there were several key people and leaders. TMN and PTC were two of the stalwarts, however they were at loggerheads. CNM was instrumental in bringing them together and in the eventual creation of South Indian Liberal Federation - popularly known as the Justice Party. The credit of creating the Justice Party goes to CNM by all accounts. If not for him, the disunited non-brahmin movements would not have become one.

Now that we have briefly looked at the background of three prominent people who went on to create the Justice Party. We need to look at some of the other non-brahmin movements and leaders in that era. Like the 'Federalist Papers' and 'Anti-Federalists Papers', there arose in the early 20th century a book called the 'Non-Brahmin letters' - a set of 21 letters written by prominent non-brahmin leaders urging non-brahmins to rise and shine. I have not laid my hands on that book or those letters, yet. I don't think it is available on the internet.

In the next post.....we will look at some of these leaders. Oh EVR, Annadurai and Karunanidhi are still long ways to go. And the European Christian Missionaries continued to work their charm. So hang on.

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At December 26, 2013 at 11:35 AM , Blogger kamal said...

The credit goes to Sir Pitti Theagaroya chetty


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