Tamilnadu freedom movement

Tamil Nadu Independence Movement

Are Tamil Nationalists Selfish?

Thanjai Nalankilli

TAMIL TRIBUNE, December 2005 (ID. 2005-12-02)
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1. Introduction

2. Indian Nationalists of the Past

3. Tamil Nationalists of Today

4. Concluding Remarks


AIADMK - All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

DMK - Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam

TNLA - Tamil Nadu Liberation Army

1. Introduction

Some who are opposed to Tamil nationalism and Tamil Nadu independence frequently repeat that, "Tamil nationalists' call for Tamilnadu independence is motivated by selfishness. These Tamil nationalists want to create an independent Tamil Nadu so that they could become the president or prime minister or hold some other top level position in the new country." Unfortunately, even some well-meaning Tamil people fall for this utterly false and mischievous propaganda. The purpose of this article is to address this propaganda head on and demolish it.

2. Indian Nationalists of the Past

I have never heard anyone say that former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Kamaraj joined the Indian independence movement because he wanted to become the prime minister of India or state chief minister. That would, of course, be a ridiculous statement because he joined the Indian National Congress and entered the independence movement in its early days, around 1920, when independence was not at all close or certain. It took over a quarter of a century before British rule ended.  He became chief minister 7 years after independence, in 1954, over 30 years after he entered the Indian independence movement. How can one say that he joined the movement to become the chief minister or get some top post in the post-British India? Independence may or may not be achieved in his lifetime. Even if it was achieved he may or may get a top level post. How could a young man in his teens from a poor family think that he would become the state chief minister in the new country? After all, so many people in the independence movement died before independence came. Many, though alive, did not get any post at all after independence. So, to think that Kamaraj joined the Indian independence movement from the selfish motivation of getting a top post in the independent country is ridiculous. It is equally ridiculous to say that Tamil nationalists call for Tamil Nadu freedom because of selfishness.

What about V.O. Chidamparanar (VOC)? Did he oppose British rule in the hope that he would get a top job in post-British India? No, he opposed British rule because he felt that India was exploited by the British and India would be better off as an independent country. What did V.O. Chidamparanar get for his participation in the Indian independence movement? Did he become the Prime Minister of India? No. Did he become the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu? No. Did he get any position in the government? No. British imprisoned him from 1908 to 1912. In prison he was forced to drive an oil press; VOC was tied to an oil press in place of a bullock and was forced to drive it exactly the way a bull would do. He did not even see British rule end. He died in 1936, a decade before Indian independence.

What about Thirupur Kumaran? He was carrying the flag during an anti-British protest march in 1932. Police attacked the protesters with sticks (lathis). Thirupur Kumaran was hit in the head. He held on to the flag even as he was beaten. He fell and fainted holding on to the flag. The bleeding Kumaran was taken to hospital where he died. He was in his late twenties. Did he protest against British rule because of the selfish motivation of becoming prime minister of India or chief minister of Tamil Nadu? Did he hold on to the flag even as he was beaten severely and bleeding because of the selfish motivation of  getting some top job in post-British India? To think so would be ridiculous. It is equally ridiculous to say that Tamil nationalists fight for Tamil Nadu independence because of selfish reasons.

During the British rule, K. Kamaraj, V.O. Chidamparam, Thirupur Kumaran and thousands of Indian nationalists from Tamil Nadu worked for the end of British rule and independence for India because they believed that India would be better off as an independent country. Aspirations of the Tamil nationalists are no different. Things have changed since the British left India. Hindi is imposed on Tamil people in spite of our heated opposition [Reference 1]. Tamil Nadu is economically discriminated in India; every year the Indian Central Government transfers thousands of crores of Rupees from Tamil Nadu (and many other non-Hindi states) to Hindi states by various direct and indirect methods [Reference 2]. Tamil nationalists of today believe that Tamil Nadu would be better off as an independent country rather than as a state in India [Reference 3]. They are not fighting for Tamilnadu independence because of selfish reasons but for altruistic reasons. Motivations of Tamil nationalists of today are no less noble than the motivations of Indian nationalists of yesterday. They give their time, their sweat and even their blood sometimes, expecting nothing but the hope that Tamil Nadu would be an independent country one day. They are giving themselves to the Tamil people, to the Tamil country.

3. Tamil Nationalists of Today

We discussed a few examples of Indian nationalists of the past who selflessly made sacrifices for Indian independence from British rule. Let us now look at a couple of examples of Tamil nationalists of today who gave themselves for Tamilnadu independence from Indian rule (because in post-British India one region (the Hindi belt) takes advantage of the other regions economically, culturally and linguistically).

The foremost spokesman for Tamil Nadu independence in the second half of the 20th century is Poet Perunchiththiranar (also known as Pavalareru and Durai Manickam). Starting from the 1950s to his death in 1995, he tirelessly raised his voice for Tamil Nadu independence. He wrote hundreds of articles and made many dozens of speeches explaining the reasons for demanding freedom for Tamil Nadu from Indian rule. He has the dubious "honor" of being arrested by the Congress, DMK and AIADMK governments Tamil Nadu State. He feared none, bowed to no one and accepted no bribe. Having failed to silence him by arresting him and threatening him, Indian Government tried to "bribe him". In the 1980s, the then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi sent the then Tamil Nadu Congress leader Moopanar to Perunchiththiranar. Moopanar told Perunjchiththiranar that Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was willing to grant him many "favors" if he would stop his campaign for independent Tamil Nadu. Perunchiththiranar refused. If he accepted the offer he could have received substantial sums of money and/or choice jobs for him and his children. But he said "no" to all that and kept on writing and speaking for Tamil Nadu independence. Tell me. Was he fighting for Tamilnadu independence for selfish reasons? Or, was he fighting for independence because of his deep convictions and love for his people and country? (A brief biography of Perunchiththiranar may be found in Reference 4).

Another pioneer in the Tamil Nadu independence struggle was Tamilarasan. Having seen that the Indian Government is not listening to Tamil people's legitimate demand for equal treatment with Hindi people in cultural, language and economic matters, and the inability of elected politicians to remedy the situation in spite of the overwhelming electoral victories of Dravidian parties, and Indian Government's attempts to suppress the voice of Tamil nationalists like Perunjchiththiranar, Tamilarasan chose to fight for Tamil Nadu independence through armed struggle.  He founded and commanded the first Tamil Nadu militant group named "Tamil Nadu Viduthalai Padai" (Tamil Nadu Liberation Army - TNLA). To say that he did this for selfish reasons is ridiculous. Let us look at his life. He was an engineering student. He left his studies and joined the Tamil Nadu independence movement. At that time, in early 1980s, there were only a few engineering colleges in Tamilnadu. An engineering degree meant an assured job at a high salary. At that time engineers were at the top of the career pyramid, comparable to doctors. He left such an assured lucrative job and an upper middle-class life to work for Tamilnadu independence. He died at a young age in 1987, fighting for the noble cause he believed in.

There are hundreds of others who left "the regular life" most of us enjoy and lived like Perunjchiththiranar or Tamilarasan, devoting their lives to the noble goal of Tamil Nadu independence. They expected nothing in return. They received nothing in return except the mental satisfaction that their hard work and sacrifices would one day result in the independence of Tamil Nadu. Neither Perunjchiththiranar nor Tamilarasan nor the hundreds of others who served their country Tamil Nadu in a similar fashion even lived to see the independence, to see Tamil Nadu national flag fluttering in the wind over government buildings. They saw that in their hearts, they saw that in their minds. They did all they could to make it a reality.

Then there are thousands of Tamil nationalists who live a "regular life" as students, teachers, professors, police, soldiers, accountants, farmers, factory workers, etc. etc. They quietly support and promote Tamil Nadu independence in whatever way they can. Are these people supporting and promoting independence for selfish reasons? No. They get nothing in return for all they do, except for the satisfaction that they are supporting a noble cause.

4. Concluding Remarks

Indian nationalists of the past believed that Tamil Nadu would be treated equal with other nationalities in the post-British India. That did not happen. Tamil Nadu and many other non-Hindi states are discriminated in comparison with Hindi states in economic, cultural and language matters by the Hindian dominated Indian Government. So Tamil nationalists of today are demanding independence for Tamil Nadu. Tamil nationalists of today who support and work for Tamil Nadu independence are as noble and as patriotic as the Indian nationalists of the past who worked for Indian independence. 

Tamil Nadu independence is our birthright!
We will ask for it! We will fight for it!
We will achieve it!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Some Tamil names are spelled differently by different people. Some common variations of the names appearing in this article are listed below.

Chidamparanar - Chidhamparanar, Chithamparanar
Pavalareru - Paavalareru
Perunchiththiranar - Perunjchiththiranar
Tamilarasan - Thamilarasan, Tamizharasan, Thamizharasan
Thirupur - Thirupur


1. India, Tamil Nadu and Hindi Imposition

2. Economic Discrimination of Tamil Nadu in India

3. Why Independence (Freedom) for Tamil Nadu from Indian Rule? (by Thanjai Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, April 1999.

4. Who is this Perunchiththiranar? (by Thanjai Nalankilli), TAMIL TRIBUNE, October 1999.

FIS051126    2005-a1d

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