Social Differences

-Periyar E.V. Ramasamy

Translated by Karthick Ram Manoharan and Vilasini Ramani

By anthropological studies, Indians can be broadly divided into three categories – Aryans, Mongoloids, and Dravidians. Among these, the Dravidians are the oldest tribes of India. The Aryans came from outside to settle here. 

The languages of the Dravidians are Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam and a few other tribal languages. The languages of the Aryans are Sanskrit, Hindi etc.

The Dravidians did not have any caste discrimination among them and they worshipped a single god.

The Aryans have caste differences and they worship many gods. The Aryans believe in heaven, family deities, rituals etc. The Dravidians worship warriors, respect and adore great persons who work for the good of the society, feed the poor who cannot earn a living, and build lodges for travellers. 

The Aryans teach that we should offer gifts to the Brahmins in order to attain salvation and anything else that we do is useless. 

The Dravidians believe that helping the poor and offering them a livelihood is a duty for those in privileged positions.

There are many such differences between the Aryans and Dravidians. A condition is imposed that if the Aryans and the Dravidians are to live together, it can happen only when we accept that the Aryans are superior upper castes while the Dravidians are inferior lower castes. However, if we claim equal rights, we are called as Aryan haters and Brahmin haters. This is why we have protests and fights between the Aryans and the Dravidians in the Dravidian land. As the struggle intensifies, the Dravidians are forced to demand that the Dravidian land be separated from the Aryan land and that the Dravidians must establish their own rule. 

Whether the British accept or not to the idea of a separate Dravidian land, the Dravidians have decided that they will uphold this demand to live on their own. 

Ireland which has a population of about 75 lakh people was part of Great Britain but they are now a separate country. And the British have accepted that. They even allowed Burma to become independent.

If Britain does not permit Tamil Nadu that has a population of about 4 crore Dravidians to separate from the Aryan land and live as a British protectorate, it is a loss only to them, but it doesn’t mean that the Dravidians will not get their Dravidian land.

Editorial, Viduthalai, 01.05.1941.

Source: Periyar E. V. Ramasamy. 2011. Periyar Kalanjiyam 8: Jaathi-Theendaamai, Paagam (2). [Periyar Repository 8: Caste-Untouchability Part (2)]. Second Edition. Chennai: Periyar Suyamariyathai Prachaara Niruvanam, pp. 141-143.

Online Meeting on ‘Rethinking Social Justice’

The Dravidian Professionals Forum organized a meeting on 17 March 2021 to discuss the volume Rethinking Social Justice (Orient BlackSwan 2020). According to the publisher’s website Rethinking Social Justice, co-edited by S. Anandhi, Karthick Ram Manoharan, M. Vijayabaskar and A. Kalaiyarasan, offers a more transdisciplinary approach to envisioning a just society that encompasses the intersecting issues of caste, capital, nationalism, gender, region, urban planning and visual representation.

Anandhi, Vijayabaskar and Karthick spoke at the event which largely involved a politically informed activist audience. Anandhi spoke about the key ideas behind and the current significance of the volume. She highlighted the academic interventions of M.S.S. Pandian to whom the book was a homage and whose works were critically engaged and built upon by the contributors to the volume. Speaking about her own chapter and ongoing work, she stressed the need to have more critical attention to the politics of gender in the Dravidian movement.

Vijayabaskar spoke about the political economy under the successive Dravidian parties, highlighting the inclusive model of growth and responding to certain general criticisms of the Dravidian rule. He noted how patterns of growth, industrialization, land reforms, public distribution system, and welfare schemes contributed to the gradual empowerment of marginalized sections of the population. The Dravidian Model, a book authored by Kalaiyarasan and Vijayabaskar, that deals with these topics in greater detail will be published by Cambridge University Press this year.

Based on his ongoing research, Karthick spoke about contributions of the Dravidian Movement and Periyar to the democratic culture and the pluralist ethos of Tamil Nadu’s politics. He noted how at a time of ethnic and religious fundamentalism, the Periyarist legacy eschewed all forms of chauvinism and imagined an idea of ‘Dravidian’ based on shared solidarity than ethnic, religious or caste markers. He used the Laclauian concept of ‘floating signifier’ to explain how ‘Dravidian’ was conceived as an inclusive identity. 

The presentations were bilingual (Tamil and English) and in a manner that was easily accessible to a non-specialist audience. An interactive session followed the presentations. There was an engaged discussion on how marginalized groups like the Dalits can lay claim to the Dravidian movement, the challenge of Tamil nationalism in a time of neo-liberalism, and other issues related to contemporary Tamil politics.

The recording of the event is available on Facebook and has been seen by over 1000 viewers as on 19 March 2021.

Confronting Caste: Panel Discussion at KCL

Panelists and Titles:

Karthick Ram Manoharan (University of Wolverhampton): The Black Shirt Challenge: Periyar contra Aryanism.

Meena Dhanda (University of Wolverhampton): The Concurrence of Anti-racism and Anti-casteism.

Hugo Gorringe (University of Edinburgh): Changing Caste Cultures.

The panel was moderated by Srilata Sircar and Vignesh Rajahmani.