From Victoria Public Corridor to Valluvar Kottam, we take you on a tour of the locations and streets the place the Dravidian motion took form.
With lower than three weeks left for the elections, candidates have hit the marketing campaign trails. Whereas we watch the occasions as they unfold, we thought we’d take you on one other path. A historic and anecdote-filled journey throughout town of Chennai, stopping at among the notable locations the place the Dravidian motion took form, at totally different cut-off dates.
Madras, which was the capital of the Madras Presidency that encompassed most of south India throughout British rule, grew to become the birthplace of the Dravidian motion within the early twentieth century. And town that it has turn out to be right now, Chennai, continues to carry vital historic remnants from the motion. Some have been misplaced to time, whereas others have been reworked.
We’re aware of roads, statues and neighbourhoods named after Dravidian stalwarts comparable to Periyar EV Ramaswamy, CN Annadurai, M Karunanidhi, and later standard leaders comparable to MG Ramachandran, and J Jayalalithaa, however there are landmarks within the metropolis that maintain tales linked to the Dravidian motion. Let’s begin with the formation of the Justice Social gathering.
This takes us to Citi Centre Mall on Radhakrishnan Salai. The house the place the constructing stands was as soon as a coconut grove. In keeping with Chennai’s heritage professional and editor of The Madras Musings, Sriram V, “It was in a coconut grove that stood right here that the South Indian Liberal Federation aka the Justice Social gathering had its delivery.”
The Justice Social gathering was, nevertheless, formally established at Victoria Public Corridor, a surprising red-brick constructing that’s in Park City, on 20 November 1916 by three gents — Dr C Natesa Mudaliar, TM Nair and P Theagaraya Chetty. The get together itself was the end result of efforts to result in equal illustration in schooling and administrative fields in a society that was, unapologetically, dominated by Brahmins.
Victoria Public Corridor | Picture courtesy: wikimedia commons
P Theagaraya Chetty, certainly one of Justice Social gathering’s founding members, additionally lent his title to a well-liked neighbourhood within the metropolis, that’s now higher generally known as T Nagar. Historian, photographer and author Kombai S Anwar shares an enormous chunk of historical past that’s related to Theagaraya Nagar. “Theagaraya Nagar, popularly recognized by its abbreviated type T Nagar, was created as an city suburb of Madras through the Nineteen Twenties by the Madras Presidency authorities, led by the Raja of Panagal, of the Justice Social gathering. The city was named after Justice Social gathering chief Sir Pitti Theagaraya Chetty, whereas the streets, parks and localities within the new neighbourhood have been named after essential members of the Justice get together,” he shares.
“Localities in T Nagar have been named after outstanding personalities such because the Raja of Panagal (Panagal Park), Dr C Natesa Mudaliar (Natesan Park), Sir Muhammad Usman (Usman Street), WPA Soundara Pandianar (Pondy Bazar). Soundara Pandianar took the daring step of cancelling licenses of bus companies that didn’t permit Dalits to board them,” he provides.
Then there have been different Justice Social gathering leaders like Thanikachalam Chetty, Thirumalai Pillai, GN Chetty, and Venkatanarayana whose names have additionally been etched on T Nagar roads.
The guts of the Justice Social gathering, nevertheless, lies within the neighbourhoods in north Madras. The primary mid-day meal was served at a company college within the Thousand Lights locality. Theagaraya Chetty, who served because the President of the Company between 1919 and 1923, is credited with the thought of introducing the mid-day meal scheme within the metropolis. Then there’s Theagaraya School in Previous Washermanpet, based by Theagaraya Chetty in 1897 as an academic institute. A portion of Theagaraya Chetty’s once-palatial home nonetheless stays on Balu Avenue in Previous Washermanpet, marked by the connecting bridge to a home throughout the road, that had undoubtedly seen higher days.
Anwar additionally provides, “Natesan Mudaliar had began a hostel for non-brahmin college students in Triplicane in 1914, the precise location of which is right now misplaced.”
Whereas the autumn of the Justice Social gathering is a narrative for an additional day, we’ll now make a swift leap to when the Dravidian get together was born. This occurred at a park in north Madras. The Robinson’s Park aka Anna Poonga, in Royapuram is the place DMK chief CN Annadurai held the historic public assembly asserting the get together’s launch in 1949. This assembly additionally marked Anna’s break up from Periyar and his intention to launch a celebration for electoral politics.
Not removed from the park is Arivagam, which was as soon as the Dravidian get together’s headquarters, however right now is a marriage corridor.
Anwar additionally talks about an essential cafe in Triplicane that witnessed anti-Brahmin agitation across the Nineteen Fifties. “It was known as Brahmnal cafe, the title indicating that it was for Brahmins solely. The cafe was really known as Lodge Murali Iyer Cafe (Murali’s cafe) and is not there right now,” Anwar provides.
Nevertheless, there’s a landmark of even larger significance that’s eternally misplaced to time. The Othavadai theatre corridor on Wall Tax Street, the place Erode Venkatappa Ramasamy, the crusader of ladies’s rights, was rightfully christened ‘Periyar’ by none apart from Annai Meenambal Shivaraj. She was a major girl chief of the self-respect motion and the primary Scheduled Caste girl president of the South India Scheduled Castes Federation (SCF). The occasion befell throughout a ladies’s convention held on the theatre in 1938. The theatre was additionally the place a number of essential performs and Dravidian motion occasions was once staged.
The Marina promenade that holds the burial grounds of Anna, MGR, Jayalalithaa and Karunanidhi, (Periyar memorial is in Vepery) can also be marked by statues of many Tamil leaders, poets, and visionaries. It is a reminder of the World Tamil convention held within the metropolis in 1968, throughout Anna’s rule – the primary authorities by a Dravidian get together.
Anna memorial | Picture courtesy: wikimedia commons
The tracing of the motion wouldn’t be full with out paying a go to to the derelict memorials of Thalamuthu and Natarajan in Moola Kothalam, the 2 who sacrificed their lives through the anti-Hindi agitation between 1937 and 1940.
Through the anti-Hindi agitations of 1965, extra lives have been misplaced and this contains Dheeran Sivalingam and Aranganathan, the 2 are right now remembered by the subways in T Nagar which have been named after them. “Two of the subways that join T Nagar to West Mambalam are named after males who self-immolated themselves through the anti-Hindi agitation of 1965. Curiously the Duraisamy subway as per Company data is definitely generally known as Dheeran Sivalingam Subway,” Anwar shares.
“On the evening of January 25, 1965,” he continues, “Sivalingam who was 21-years-old, and dealing with the Company of Madras died by self-immolation, protesting towards the imposition of Hindi. As he lived at Viswanathapuram, adjoining to the railway gate which gave solution to the subway within the late Nineteen Sixties, it has been named after him. Aranganathan who went to pay his final respects to Sivalingam apparently determined to observe in his path and died by self-immolation on the morning of twenty sixth January. In a matter of 24 hours, seven folks took their lives protesting towards the imposition of Hindi and this gave jitters to the ruling Congress’s dispensation.”
Valluvar Kottam | Picture courtesy: wikimedia commons
Nevertheless, to many, Valluvar Kottam is taken into account the most important image of Dravidian political success. Positioned in Nungambakkam, it was constructed through the 70s by then Chief Minister Karunanidhi. Devoted to the Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar, the exaggerated structure is taken into account symbolic of the Dravidian identification. And it looks as if the becoming place to finish this piece and take within the Dravidian motion’s robust echo that may be heard even right now.
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