caste-based reservation in professional college admissions

8. Early Years of DMK (DK and DMK: A Two-Barrel Gun)

Chapter 8
"Political History of the Rise and Fall of Dravidian Parties in Tamil Nadu (South India)"

Thanjai Nalankilli, Ph.D.

TAMIL TRIBUNE, March 2006 (ID. 2006-03-01)
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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

Within a month of its inauguration, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam established over 600 branch offices and reached membership of over 50,000 (almost all of them crossing over from Dravidar Kazhagam). Starting from his inauguration speech on September 18, 1949, party General-Secretary C. N. Annadurai emphasized at many meetings that DMK stood for the same basic ideals of DK. He repeatedly said that the only reason for splitting from DK was DK President Periyar E. V. Ramaswamy's behaviour. He said that DK and DMK are like a two-barrel gun aiming at the same target.

DMK leaders set a busy agenda for the party, projecting a dynamic image among the public. Often, DK and DMK protested against the same things. However, instead of holding joint protests, they held separate protest marches and demonstrations, each trying to outdo the other.

On May 2, 1950 the Madras State Government issued an order making Hindi a compulsory subject in both middle and high schools (grades 6 to 11). Under intense opposition from a wide spectrum of the Tamil population, with DK and DMK playing lead roles in the protest demonstrations, government again removed Hindi as compulsory subject. It issued an order to that effect on July 18, 1950.

Another issue that came to boil in the early years of DMK was caste-based reservation in professional college admissions. In the 1930s, the then Justice Party government of Madras Presidency passed a law reserving seats in professional colleges on the basis of caste; this was to give non-Brahmins opportunities in professional fields. A group of students filed a lawsuit in 1950 contesting that the reservation law violated the new Indian constitution that came into effect on January 26, 1950. Madras High Court ruled in favor of this student group. Majority of the students in Madras and other parts of the state protested the high court ruling. DK and DMK also organized protest demonstrations. Eventually Madras government passed another law, bringing back caste-based admission to professional colleges. Over the years thousands of non-Brahmin students benefited from this law.

These two events established DMK as a solid force standing in guard of the Tamil people and non-Brahmins. DK was still a force in its own right. It was active. While DMK leaders still showed respect to their mentor Periyar (DK President), Periyar derided DMK and its leaders at public meetings. He referred to DMK leaders as kanneer thuligal (tear drops) because DMK leaders said that they left DK with tears in their eyes.

Once the British rule ended, the new Congress government took more "oppressive measures" against both DK and DMK. Government made it difficult for these parties to publish newspapers and magazines, although it was unable to stop these publications. The government did ban some books and plays written by DK and DMK writers. The ban remained in effect for many years. Ban on some of the books were lifted only after Dravidian parties came to power in the late 1960s. More about this in a later chapter.

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

Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam - Dravida Munnetra Kazagam
Periyar - Periar

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