Caste, Peasant And Trade Union Movements
- It was an intermediate caste movement launched in Madras around 1915-16 by C.M Mudaliar, T.M. Nair and P. Tyagaraja Chetti on behalf of intermediate castes (like Tamil Vellalas, Mudaliars, and Chettiars; Telugu Reddis, Kammas and Baliza Naidus; and Malayali Nairs) and against Brahmin predominance in education, government service and politics.
- They founded a new political party, known as the “Justice Party” which exhibited its loyalty to the British government in the hope of getting more government jobs and representation in the new legislatures.
Self Respect Movement
- It was a populist and radical movement founded in 1925 in Tamil Nadu by E. V. Ramaswami Naicker popularly known as “Periyar”, against the Brahmin dominations.
- It advocated weddings without Brahmin priests, forcible temple entry, burning of the Manusmriti and outright atheism at times.
- Periyar founded a Tamil Journal, “Kudi Arasu”, in 1924 in order to propagate his ideas.
- Nadar Movement
- In the Remmad district of South Tamil Nadu, an untouchable caste of toddy tappers, and agricultural labourers, originally called “Shanans”, emerged as a prosperous mercantile class by the end of the 19th century, and began to call themselves by the prestigious title of “Nadars” and to claim Kshatriya status.
- They organised a “Nadar Mahajan Sangam” in 1910, imitated upper caste customs and manners (Sanskritization), and raised funds for educational and social welfare activities.
Movement of The Pallis
- In northern Tamil Nadu, the Pallis, a lower caste people, began to claim Kshatriya status from 1871.
- They called themselves “Vanniya Kula Kshatriya” and imitated upper caste customs like the taboo on widow remarriage.
- The untouchable Ezhavas of Kerala, under the leadership of Nanu Asan (also known as “Narayan Guru”), began in the early 20th century and also imitate some of the customs of the higher castes.
- In the later period they became the firmest supporters of the communists in Kerala.
- In the state of Travancore the intermediate caste of Nairs (numerically the dominant caste) started in the late 19th century a strong movement against the social and political domination of the Nambudri Brahmins and the non-Malayali Brahmins (Tamil and Maratha).
|Facts To Be Remembered|
- The Seva Samiti Boy Scouts Association merged itself with the Baden-Powell Organisation after the latter removed the colour bar on Indians.
- K.R. Cama made significant contribution in reforming the Parsi Society and in uplifting the Pasi Women.
- The “Gurukul” faction of the Arya Samaj started the Hardwar Gurukul in 1902.
- The “Gurukul” faction was led by Swami Shraddhanand, whose original name was Lala Munsi Ram.
- The Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929 was also known as the Sarda Act. It was moved in the Central Legislature by Rai Sahib Harbilas Sarda.
- The Nairs were numerically the dominant caste in the princely state of Travancore.
- K. Ramakrishna Pillai attacked the court of Travancore state through his journal, “Swadesha bhimani.”
- B.V. Ratnam was the first President of the Andhra Provincial Ryots Association founded in 1928.
- South Indian Federation of Peasants and Agricultural Labour was founded in 1935 (Madras).
- All India Kisan Sabha was formed in 1936 (Lucknow).
- Swami Sahajanand presided over the first session of the All-India Kisan Sabha.
- Lokhande was responsible for the organisation of the first conference of workers in Bombay.
- The first trade Union Act, providing for voluntary registration, was enacted in 1926.
- The first factory Commission was appointed in 1875.
- The minimum strength of members required for a trade union to get itself registered under the first Trade Union Act in India was seven.
|Facts To Be Remembered|
- There was a Kisan Movement in 1920-21 in the Awadh region (Pratapgarh, Rae Bareli, Sultanpur and Faizabad districts) of the United Province.
- An U.P. Kisan Sabha was started in 1918 by Indira Narain Dwivedi.
- N.G. Ranga founded the first Ryot’s association (1923) in Guntur (Andhra).
- Swami Sahajanand Saraswati was the most prominent Bihar and All-lndia Kishan leader from about 1925 to 1935.
- The untouchables in Madras developed an autonomous movement from the 1920’s under Dr. Ambedkar, their first graduate.
- A.C. Banerji organised an Indian Millhand’s Union in 1906.
- The inaugural session of the All India Trade Union Congress was held in Bombay (31 Oct. 1920).
- There was a strike at the Tata Iron and Steel Works (Jamshedpur) in 1922.
- In Ahmedabad, 56 out of 64 textile mills were closed due to a massive strike in 1923 against a 20% wage cut.
- The AITUC and the moderate NFTU came together at a joint session in Nagpur in 1938.
- C.V. Raman Pillai organised the Malayali Memorial (1891) which attacked Brahmin Predominance in government jobs, and his historical novel “Martanda Varma” (1891) attempted an evocation of the lost Nair military glory, but his group was easily accomodated within the official elite by the late 1890’s.
- After 1900, however, a more energetic Nair leadership emerged under K. Rama Krishna Pillai and M. Padmanabha Pillai. The former edited the “Swadeshabhimani” from 1906 till 1910 when its attacks on the court and demands for political rights led to his expulsion from Travancore.
- Padmanabha Pillai founded the Nair Service Society (1914) which worked for the social and political advancement of the Nairs.
- It was a movement started by Jyotiba Phule in Maharashtra.
- Phule, through his book “Ghulamgiri” (1872), and his organisation “Satyashodak Samaj” (1873), proclaimed the need to save the lower castes from the hypocritical Brahmins and their opportunic scriptures.
- This movement was dual in character. That is, it has an urban elite-based conservatism (the trend representing the desire of the urban-educated members of the intermediate and lower castes to move upwards in the social ladder by sanskritization) as well a more genuine rural mass-based radicalism (the trend representing the desire of the rural Maratha peasants to do away with the evils of the caste system itself).
- It was the movement of the untouchable Mahars of Maharashtra under the leadership of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar (their first graduate) from 1920’s. Their demands included the right to use tanks and enter temples, abolition of the ‘Mahar watan’ (traditional services to village chiefs), and separate representation in the legislative councils. From 1927, some of them even started burning of the Manusmriti as a symbol of a sharper break with Hinduism.
- In the late 19th century also the Mahars organised themselves under Gopal Baba Walangkar, an ex-serviceman and demanded more jobs in the army and other government services.
Northern and Eastern India
- Kaivartas of Midnapur in Bengal, belonging to a lower caste but economically being well-off, began calling themselves “Mahishyas”, and started a “Jati Nirdharani Sabha” (1897) and a “Mahishya Samiti (1901), which later played a prominent role in the nationalist movement.
- Namasudras of Faridpur in Bengal, an untouchable caste of poor peasants, started developing associations after 1901 at the initiative of a tiny elite of educated men and some missionary encouragement.
- Kayasthas of Northern and Eastern India, having interprovincial professional connections, started an All-lndia Kayastha Association and a newspaper, the Allahabad-based “Kayastha Samachar” by 1910.
- But on the whole, in northern and eastern India, Brahmin domination was less clear-cut, with other high-caste groups (like Rajputs and Kayasthas in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, and Vaidyas and Kayasthas in Bengal) serving as buffers. Hence, mobilisation along caste lines came much later in these regions than in western and southern India. Further, movements of the lower and intermediate castes in these regions were not as prominent and powerful as those in Western and Southern India.
Causes for Their Rise
- Grievances of the educated men belonging to the lower and intermediate caste, eg. Justice Movement in South India, Satyashodak Movement (its urban aspect) in Maharashtra, etc.
- Desire of some of the lower castes to move upward in the social ladder through the process of Sanskritization (i.e., castes asserting a higher status for themselves through borrowing customs, manners and taboos from groups traditionally superior) eg; Movements of the Nadars and Pallis of Tamilnadu, those of Ezhavas and Nair of Kerala, etc.
- Desire of some radical elements to improve the lot of the lower and intermediate castes by attacking Brahmin domination. and at times by challenging the very basis of caste system, eg, Self-Respect Movement in Tamil Nadu, Mahar and Satyashodak movements (the latter in its rural aspect) in Maharashtra etc.