The roots of the Dravidian movement can be traced back to 1916 when the Justice Party was created by T.M. Nair and T. Chetty to counter the growing power of Brahmans in society and politics. This was also established to agitate for their share in office proportionate to their population.

V. Ramaswamy Naicker famously known as Periyar, disillusioned with the Congress Party that he believed was biased towards Brahmins, established Self-Respect Movement in the year 1925, to assert the dignity of non-Brahmins, and joined hands with the Justice Party only to take over its leadership

The objectives were mainly rejection of Brahmin domination in all spheres of life, rejection of Aryan and northern domination over the south, and this included rejection of as Hindi, Hinduism, Sanskrit and creation of an independent Dravidanadu i.e. Dravidian land, reversion to Tamil culture and ethos as reflected in the old Sangam literature of Tamil Nadu and regaining the glory of Tamil language and history.

This movement appealed to a large section of the Tamil society, kindling in them a Tamil pride.


The impact E. V. Ramaswami, fondly called Periyar, had on the Dravidian movement in Tamil Nadu can not be put in a few hundred words with most of his active years of work coinciding with the Indian freedom struggle.  Periyar spoke extensively about destroying caste based discrimination through his Self Respect movement, women’s rights, Brahmin dominance.

He joined the Indian National Congress in 1919 only to quit it six years later due to differences in ideology. According to him,  Gandhi and Congress were agents of elitism and Brahminism and his political agenda can be described as  “No god; no religion; no Gandhi; no Congress; and no Brahmins.”

Throughout his life, Periyar insisted on women being treated equally as men and vouched for their education, he was a feminist. He was keen on women realizing their worth and worked towards social reforms for women.

Periyar strongly objected Hindi nationalism and domination of North over South. He insisted on creation of Dravida Nadu and “a Tamil Nadu for Tamilians”


For over 100 years, since 1916, Dravidian Movement played a significant role in deciding the fate of politics in Tamil Nadu; providing identities to the community that were non Brahmin and also to the marginalized section across India.

The state continues to achieve highest standards in development and social reform under its influences in the country but bigger challenges of caste and honour based crimes, religious bigotry and social disparities are getting into the Dravidian fate with several leaders and experts talking about the Dravidian Movement facing an identity crisis in the recent times.


From vandalizing statues of Lenin in Tripura after Bharatiya Janata Party’s victory during assembly polls in 2018 to BJP leaders speaking about its apathy towards Periyar’s anti-caste movement, the clash of ideology between socialist Dravidian politics and majoritarian Hindutva has become evident today.

Bringing together of all Hindutva followers is important to BJP while the Dravidian politics was built towards creation of Dravidian Nadu that restricts influences of Hindutva project; a majoritarian politics based on caste.

The difference in ideologies has had such an effect that social media is filled with #gobackmodi tags whenever the Prime Minister Narendra Modi comes to Tamil Nadu.