“Regional parties in T.N., a good example of compatibility of regionalism and nationalism”

Updated - July 12, 2016 01:44 am IST

Published - June 10, 2012 12:24 am IST - CHENNAI:

Following is an extract from the NCERT's political science (Class XII) textbook that has sparked a controversy due to a cartoon depicting the anti-Hindi agitation of 1965. According to Yogendra Yadav, former chief adviser to the NCERT on the preparation of the textbook, a reading of the text accompanying the cartoon would show that the chapter was not aimed at denigrating the anti-Hindi agitation, but was actually a fair and non-partisan account of the regional movement.

Vadakku Vaazhkirathu; Therkku Thaeikirathu [The north thrives even as the south decays]. This popular slogan sums up the dominant sentiments of one of India's most effective regional movements, the Dravidian movement, at one point of time. This was one of the first regional movements in Indian politics. Though some sections of this movement had ambitions of creating a Dravid nation, the movement did not take to arms. It used democratic means like public debates and the electoral platform to achieve its ends. This strategy paid off as the movement acquired political power in the State and also became influential at the national level.

The Dravidian movement led to the formation of Dravida Kazhagam [DK] under the leadership of Tamil social reformer E.V. Ramasami ‘Periyar'. The organisation strongly opposed the Brahmins' dominance and affirmed regional pride against the political, economic and cultural domination of the North. Initially, the Dravidian movement spoke in terms of the whole of south India; however lack of support from other States limited the movement to Tamil Nadu.

The DK split and the political legacy of the movement was transferred to Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). The DMK made its entry into politics with a three-pronged agitation in 1953-54. First, it demanded the restoration of the original name of Kallakudi railway station which had been renamed Dalmiapuram, after an industrial house from the North. This demand brought out its opposition to the North Indian economic and cultural symbols. The second agitation was for giving Tamil cultural history greater importance in school curricula. The third agitation was against the craft education scheme of the State government, which it alleged was linked to the Brahmanical social outlook. It also agitated against making Hindi the country's official language. The success of the anti-Hindi agitation of 1965 added to the DMK's popularity.

Sustained political agitations brought the DMK to power in the Assembly elections of 1967. Since then, the Dravidian parties have dominated the politics of Tamil Nadu. Though the DMK split after the death of its leader, C. Annadurai, the influence of Dravidian parties in Tamil politics actually increased. After the split there were two parties — the DMK and the All India Anna DMK (AIADMK) — that claimed Dravidian legacy. Both these parties have dominated politics in Tamil Nadu for the last four decades. Since 1996, one of these parties has been a part of the ruling coalition at the Centre. In the1990s, many other Dravidian parties have emerged. These include Marumalarchchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK), Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) and Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK). All these parties have kept alive the issue of regional pride in the politics of Tamil Nadu. Initially seen as a threat to Indian nationalism, regional politics in Tamil Nadu is a good example of the compatibility of regionalism and nationalism.

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