Today in this annual day celebrations, U.P.A.Soudirapandian, N.Sivaraj, S.Gurusamy, T.N.Raman, Kunjithm, Vidwan Munisamy, Arockiasamy and Kalyanasundaram have spoken. With my speech I think the annual day would come to an end. But most of the speakers have covered whatever I wanted to speak. Therefore, you may think that I may not talk much. You must be very united. You must enroll more women as members.
In truth, everybody must give more thought to rationalism. You must develop rationalist thinking. You must always deeply study about everything. Whatever comes to mind, should not be dubbed as rationalism. Memorising ideas from books cannot be rationalism. You must learn to distinguish between what is possible and what is impossible. We must know our powers and the strengths of our power. Must concentrate on time, place and circumstances of things we come across. Even if our intelligence says that a particular thing is correct, only after subjecting it to rigorous tests it must be implemented. That is to develop rationalism too, you must have rationalist thinking.
Many spoke here on self-respect and on politics. As a large number of people in this association appear to be mostly from depressed classes, it should be useful for your politics to get along with government support. In politics your community has been separated. As there is a great deal of difference in the status and aims of other communities and yours, you are obliged to ask for separate rights. Accordingly, even if the government has conferred on you separate rights, you are deceived by the so-called higher caste people. The high caste people have inherent cunningness and tactics. That is why they remain high caste people. You are categorised as oppressed caste and are enjoying benefits given thereof. Comrade Arockiasamy was angry even at the idea that you are referred to as oppressed class. What is the use of being angry? In practice, are you not kept suppressed and oppressed? If that were
not so, there is no need to ask for separate rights. Think of how many legal obstacles you have in social life. You do not have right to enter into temples. Even the right to entry into streets, tanks and schools have been given to you only after Justice Party came into being. Even then, in many places there are obstacles to these rights.
Many of you appreciated the right to enter Travancore temple. Of what use is that to you? What is your position in your own motherland? For many who are considered belonging to higher castes than you, there is no right even to go near the temple compound. When this is the position, some people shamelessly talk about politics. This itself is enough to indicate that that they are unfit to have human rights.
If one were to speak in a fair manner, you alone are not oppressed people. In some places those who are denied entry into the temples alone are not oppressed people. We, who have the right to enter all temples, also are oppressed people. Even in temples there are some places we do not have certain rights. In coffee shops and hotels, we are treated separately and cannot have entry into many areas. The sympathy shown in talking about your degradation and oppression is that our degradation may also be put to an end. Have you not come across the tactics of some people, while eating in a row with others ask servers to give additional help to people sitting near them and also incidentally get more serving for themselves? In the same manner we think if your grievance and
degradation come to an end, ours also will disappear. That is why we constantly speak about your grievances.
JOINING THE CONGRESS
My opinion is that the more you detest “political clamour” and refuse to join “political parties”, greater the chances that your grievances would be resolved. If you take care not to yield to people who want to walk over your heads, atrocities perpetrated on you will be quickly wiped out. Otherwise you will just remain steps for others to move on.
Even though it is 50 years since the Congress party has been founded, only after the formation of Justice and its demand for share in political and social life, we find much improvement. Only thereafter, in the last ten years, so many changes have come about. Instead of that, if you had continued to raise your hands in supporting the Congress, had gone behind the high caste people shouting “Govinda, Govinda” (shouting praise in chorus of these people), think what your position would be even now.
Just look at the propaganda on Travancore temple entry. How did this come about or take place? Don’t we know about our friend Dr.C.P.Ramaswamy Ayyar? What did he do when the law enacted by the ministers of Justice Party permitted all citizens to walk on all the streets under public maintenance? Did he not prevent that? When a brahmin magistrate prevented Ezhavas from using that law tried to walk in a road in Kalpathi by imposing Section 144, and when questions were raised in the assembly about that, what did Mr. Ayyar say? He replied in support of that imposition. That is, he gave a new ingenious explanation to that law. He said that law was applicable only to those who had some specific work to pass by that road and not for people who unnecessarily walk on that road. He said that the application of Sec.144 was meant to prevent embarrassment to high caste people by others who just wanted to walk on that street wantonly and that, therefore, it was justifiable.
So, we can very well understand the ‘liberal view’ of Travancore Diwan Sir C.P. Ayyar from this. Also think of how they opened up the doors of the temple finally. The oppressed people there, Ezhavars and Nadars and everybody else tried to demolish the temple and the figurines there. They conducted conferences and thousands of people passed resolutions stating that the Hindu religion was a fraud, temples were a fraud and concept of God was a fraud. Many became muslims, put on the distinct cap of the muslims. Some grew beards adopted the dress of the sikhs and practised sikhism. Some got converted into christianity along with their family members. It was then that the temple doors were opened to all. All high caste people including brahmins in Tamil Nadu appreciated the ruler of Travancore. See where the secret of victory lay? Similarly, if you begin to break Congress, religion and temple, statues of Gods etc. without anyone’s compassion or mercy, all rights will reach you of their own accord.
NO USE IN CHANGING MERE APPELLATIONS
Instead, if you are referred to as “Oppressed”, nothing can be achieved by you if you feel angry over that. As the word pariar got changed to adidravada and now to harijan or could become something else, nothing of your grievances or degradations would disappear. Merely because prostitutes and women of easy virtue are referred to as
devadasi (servant maids of celestials), the social ignominy of them does not disappear.
Similarly for non-brahmins, merely because names like Naicker, Mudaliar, Devar, Vellaar, Rajar, Rayar etc. are prevalent, the stigma of being ‘sudra’ in society does not disappear. So, don’t worry about names: seek to put an end to grievances and degradations. To non cooperate with people who treat as such and create obstacles in their progress alone is the remedy to the situation where we are degraded by such people.
We should not be disappointed if some renegades cooperate with them. Because there are such degenerate, shameless people, we are obliged to form associations and struggle for our rights. If everybody had self-respect, where is the need for having an organisation for improving the conditions of oppressed people or non-brahmins? Many amongst us are compelled to kiss the feet that kick us away. We are compelled to seek remedial measures against the degradations. The remedy lies only in our united cooperative efforts with bravery and firmness and creating obstacles to them. Some speakers have made reference to self-respect and some have sent a note to me asking for some details.
1. A gentleman has asked what is difference between people like Jeevanandam and us. The answer is ‘nothing now’. Formerly they were telling that conducting election propaganda was rotten and stinking. Now-a-days, I find from press reports that they are also keenly doing election propaganda. I make propaganda for Justice Party. They do the same for the Congress. Otherwise, there is no difference.
2. A friend has asked what is the difference between Justice Party and Democratic Party.
The answer to this is also that there is no difference. If there is at least some benefits accruing to people over communal representations in jobs advocated in the important principles of Justice Party, I would say that it is largely due to the services of a person responsible initially for that, that is friend Matthias Mudaliar. Even though many leaders of the Justice Party and many non-brahmins, do not show enough gratitude to him, as far as I am concerned I am grateful to him to some extent atleast. Otherwise based on the political experience of the Democratic party, some could say that there could be difference between the moderates and the Justice Party. But to my mind there is no such perception.
ONLY ONE PARTY IN INDIA
There is only one party in India today. That is a party of people who want to win the elections, get ministerial posts and earn money and exercise power. It might appear that there are many ways and tactics to obtain that objective. Also they might appear to be contradicting each other in social matters. As a result some parties speak truth. Some parties would be unclear in their principles and utterances. This is the truth regarding parties today.
But Justice Party in its principles and plans has truth. And frankly states that it would do just whatever was possible. The leaders and members of the party do not have difference of opinion over party principles. Among the leaders and members of the party, sometimes there could be disunity and could to anything with selfishness and without commitment for a public cause. We are not worried about that. In all parties you can find people with such an attitude. Each party must allow a margin for the activities of such persons. Otherwise, I would say that for the enslaved, degraded people in the society, Justice party is the panacea.
I am not blaming the Congress party just because it has a passion for posts and powers. But because it has as its important principle denying equal rights to backward and oppressed, I say we must destroy it. I have no faith in and respect for its leaders who are conservatives and believe in varna dharma (traditional divisions of the society). I am not worried about other parties.
PROPAGANDA OF SELF-RESPECT
3. A question has been asked as to why there has been no propaganda for self-respect.
Myself and my friends are doing some propaganda. But the chief concentration is on Justice Party. I think it is necessary from the view point of the good of the self-respect movement. Any way the election propaganda for Justice party will be over in a month and half. Thereafter, whether the party wins or loses in the elections, myself and my friends will continue to propagate the self-respect movement.
WILL IT WIN OR LOSE IN THE ELECTIONS?
4. A question has been asked as to whether Justice Party would win the elections. If justice party loses, I will be very happy: self-respect movement will get more support from non-brahmins and propaganda for self-respect movement with gather momentum. If Justice party wins, there could be no support from the leaders who get power and posts. Defeat will be an instrument to bring unity among non-brahmins who are scattered now and for working hard (towards betterment). But Justice Party will not be defeated. For the simple reason parties opposing this have no adequate strength in their principles. Even if some leaders behave in even more indifferent attitude, irresponsibility and selfishness, and degrade themselves, I don’t think the party will lose. Because it has strong principles. The Congress totally lacks in that respect. Therefore, I think that Justice party will not lose.
EQUALITY, SOCIAL JUSTICE
5. A friend has mentioned about equality and social justice. Remember that Justice Party is a social justice party. Only after its advent a pariah and a brahmin shares dais at some places in terms of absolute equality. In the olden days it used to be said that if a tiger and cow drink water from the same place, it amounted to social equality. But that happens only in shows staged by circus companies. On that score you cannot say social justice prevails there. But today a pariah, a brahmin, a sastri, a sankarachari and a cobbler occupy the same pedestal. How? Is it due to the fear of being whipped? Fear of being shot at by a revolver? Definitely not. They volunteer to occupy a level footing by spending nearly 10 to 20 thousand rupees. A brahmin even pleads to a pariah calling him a master and a lord. How did this happen? Please think whether before Justice Party was founded, there was any reference to the condition of the oppressed class in the Congress meetings, activities, resources, plans and principles and resolutions. I, therefore, ask you whether you still have any doubt about the social justice clamoured by the Justice Party. I continued to do my service to the cause of social equality and social justice.
I am keen to do work or service on economic equality and justice. But the Congress is totally opposed to such idea and will only betray the cause. Only when it is destroyed, can there be economic justice. Still, whatever can be done without offending the laws and oppression of the government, I am doing as much propaganda for economic justice as possible. I will continue to do so. I express my gratitude to you for honouring me so much and giving me an opportunity to express my views.
(Valedictory address of friend E.V.Ramasamy, at the fourth annual day meeting of Kodambakkam Rationalists society)
Translated by Prof.T.Marx
(Republic, (kudiarasu) 10.1.1937)