Dravidian Movement in Tamil Nadu

Politics in Tamil Nadu is dominated by Dravidian parties, namely, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam from 1967 when the DMK first came to power. Congress party is the third largest party, which was ruling the state from independence till 1963.

Dravidian movement was started as a platform to eradicate the social inequalities, women empowerment, improvement of lower classes and downtrodden and also to ascertain the self respect of the locals. Initially it was led by E.V Ramasamy, fondly called as Periyar and was functioning as a non political movement.

Self Repect movement was founded in 1925 by S.Ramanathan who invited E. V. Ramasamy to head the movement in Tamil Nadu against Brahminism.
The movement was extremely influential not just in Tamil Nadu, but also overseas in countries with large Tamil populations, such as Malaysia and Singapore.

Periyar was convinced that if man developed self respect, he would automatically develop individuality and would refuse to be led by the nose by schemers. One of his most known quotes on Self-Respect was, "we are fit to think of 'self-respect' only when the notion of 'superior' and 'inferior' caste is banished from our land".

Periyar declared that the Self-Respect Movement alone could be the genuine freedom movement, and political freedom would not be fruitful without individual self-respect. He remarked that the so-called 'Indian freedom fighters' were showing disrespect of self-respect, and this was really an irrational philosophy.

Started as a movement (Iyakkam in Tamil) to promote rational behavior, the Self-Respect Movement acquired much wider connotation within a short period of time. Periyar, speaking with M.K. Reddy at the First Self-Respect Conference held in 1929, explained the significance of self-respect and its principles.

Two Dalit women, Veerammal and Annai Meenambal Shivraj were key to the sustenance of the movement. Annai Meenambal was the person who first gave E.V. Ramasamy, the title "Periyar" meaning the elder or wise one.


Dravidian parties have dominated state politics since 1967. One of the earliest regional parties was the South Indian Welfare Association, which was founded in 1916. It came to be known as the Justice Party after the name of its English-language daily, Justice.

E.V. Ramasami renamed the party Dravidar Kazhagam in 1944. DK was a non-political party which demanded the establishment of an independent state called Dravida Nadu. However, due to the differences between its two leaders Periyar and C.N. Annadurai, the party was split. Annadurai left the party to form the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in 1949. The DMK decided to enter into politics in 1956.

C.N. Annadurai became the DMK's first Chief Minister, and Muthuvel Karunanidhi took over as Chief Minister and party leader after Annadurai's death in 1969.

In 1972, M G Ramachandran split from DMK and formed the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK). He was the Chief Minister of the state from 1977 until his death in 1987. 
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