Indian independence day (August 15, 1947)

4. August 15, 1947: A Day of Joy or Grievance?

Chapter 4
"Political History of the Rise and Fall of Dravidian Parties in Tamil Nadu (South India)"

Thanjai Nalankilli, Ph.D.

TAMIL TRIBUNE, October 2005 (ID. 2005-10-01)
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Table of Contents of the book "Political History of the Rise and Fall of Dravidian Parties in Tamil Nadu (South India)"and links to other chapters


DK - Dravidar Kazhagam

The British colonial rulers announced that they would leave the Indian Subcontinent on August 15, 1947. The British colonial possessions in the subcontinent would be divided into two countries: India and Pakistan. Madras Province would become part of India. (Madras Province consisted of much of today's Tamil Nadu State, parts of Andhra Pradesh State and a few other pieces of adjacent areas.) 

Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) held meetings in towns and cities throughout  the Madras Province (mostly in Tamil areas) on July 1, 1947 to explain to the public the need for independent Dravida Nadu, separate from India. This was the first step in gathering further public support and agitating for independence.

DK President Periyar E. V. Ramaswamy Naicker announced that Dravidians should observe August 15, 1947 as a day of mourning, because, from that day, Dravidians would be ruled by northerners and Aryans who dominated the Congress Party and thus the Indian Government. He made this announcement without consulting the second level leaders, including General-Secretary Annadurai. Annadurai had a differing view on August 15, 1947. He published his disagreement with Periyar in his magazine Dravida Nadu. He took the position that Dravidians should celebrate the departure of British colonial rulers.  It was Periyar who inducted Annadurai into politics. Ever since, Annadurai was his protégé. Annadurai's public disagreement over August 15 soured his relationship with his mentor. They will reconcile only in October 1948, as will be discussed in the next chapter. (Not everyone disagreed with Periyar. Many party cadres and leaders agreed with Periyar's position.)

While Periyar and Annadurai took diametrically opposite views on whether to mourn or celebrate the Indian Independence Day, their views on the status of Dravidians in post-British India was the same. They both held the view, and stated in their respective statements, that Dravidians would be dominated by northerners and Aryans in post-British India and the solution was to gain independence for Dravida Nadu. It is a matter of viewing August 15, 1947 as "glass half-full" or "glass half-empty". Periyar E. V. Ramaswamy Naicker saw the departure of the British and the transfer of power to a northern, Aryan dominated Indian Government as a sad event in Dravidian history. Annadurai saw the end of British colonial rule as a step towards independent Dravida Nadu--first independence from the British, next independence from northerners and  Aryans. This view was clearly spelled out in Annadurai's statement (article) published in his magazine Dravida Nadu. Here are some excerpts from that announcement (translated by author from Tamil). Materials within square parentheses [ ] are by the translator to clarify and put matters within proper context.

"We have opposed British rule from 1939 onwards. It has been our wish for years that foreign rule should end. But Congress Party wishes to replace British rule with Aryan rule. That is why we oppose the Congress Party. Just because we oppose the Congress, we should not be considered opponents of independence [from British rule]. We had condemned that British rule helped the Aryans and that the British are paving the way for Congress Party to succeed them as rulers. ... We should consider the day on which British rule ends [that is, August 15, 1947] as a day of celebration.

"People have not realized, as much as we do, that the new government [post-British Congress Government] is in the hands of northerners. The new rule [of northerners] could be ended in the same way the British rule was ended if we enlighten the people that northerners would rob the wealth of the south by dominating the Indian Government.

"It took the Congress Party sixty years to achieve their goal [of independence for India]. It took only six years for Jinnah to achieve his goal [of a separate, independent Pakistan]. This shows that if a race is determined to get its rights, no one can stop it from achieving it. So we may consider August 15th [the day of independence for both India and Pakistan] as a day of hope that achieving independent Dravida Nadu may not take sixty years but just six years.

"Independent Dravida Nadu is our life principle. ... We have organized public meetings on July 1, 1947 to explain to the public the need for Dravida Nadu independence. So there is no need to organize meetings again on August 15, 1947 to explain the need for Dravida Nadu independence while others are celebrating independence from British rule.

"We are still in the stage of explaining the need for independent Dravida Nadu to the people. We have not done even that sufficiently. We are still in the initial stages of explaining our goal and garnering support. We have not yet reached the "state of war". We do not yet have the scars of sacrifice. We do not yet have a Kumaran or a  Chidambaram Pillai [see Author's Notes at the end]. We are still at the stage of gathering an army of braves like Thalamuthu and Natarajan who sacrificed their lives in the anti-Hindi agitations [in 1939]. We have not yet started the war. So questions of victory and defeat do not arise. Independence for Dravida Nadu is a legitimate demand. We will not achieve our goal by merely explaining our goal to the public; we will win only after the blood of the martyrs is spilled. We will achieve victory only after numerous cadres think that jail cells [in the fight for Dravida Nadu] are like parks where birds sing. [In other words, only after numerous people are ready to die or go to jail can we expect independence for Dravida Nadu.]

"August 15, 1947 is the end of 200 years of humiliation [of British rule]. This is a good day for Dravidians, not a day of mourning. ... I believe that August 15, 1947 is the day in which we gain respect in the world. I think that there is no mistake or betrayal in celebrating August 15, 1947.

"If the party (DK) and party president think that my actions are wrong and expel me from the party, I will still continue to work from outside the party, on social reform, economic equality and independence for Dravida Nadu." [NOTES:  (1) Before 1939, DK's forerunner, the Justice Party, held the view that British should not leave until Brahmin dominance of South Indian politics is reduced and Dravidians have taken their legitimate place. (2) Kumaran lost his life during a demonstration against British rule; Chidambharam Pillai was jailed and forced to pull an oil press (like an ox) for his participation in anti-British efforts.]

EDITORIAL NOTE: Some Tamil names are spelled differently by different people. Here are some variations of names used in this chapter:

Dravidar Kazhagam - Dravidar Kazagam
Periyar - Periar

[SUMMARY: Periyar EVR and Annadurai disagreed on whether Indian independence day was a day of celebration or a day of mourning, although both held the view that Dravidians would be dominated by northerners and Aryans in post-British India and the solution was to gain independence for Dravida Nadu.]


1. Why DK and DMK initially asked for Independent Dravida Nadu and later moved towards Independent Tamil Nadu (by Thanjai Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, May 2005 (14 KB)

FIS050912    2005-a1d

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