Who founded the Self Respect Movement?

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 9th, 2023

E. V. Ramaswamy alias Periyar founded the Self Respect Movement. The movement is said to be originally started by S Ramanathan in 1925. He pioneered it in Tamil Nadu but it gradually spread to countries such as Malaysia and Singapore, where a significant Tamil population was settled or working there. The self-respect movement was started in the southern parts of India.

What is Self Respect Movement?

Self Respect Movement’s objective was to fight the brahminical oppression established by the social system that followed the varna system. The movement encouraged backward castes to have ‘self-respect’ in the caste-based society in which they were born, in which their basic human rights were denied.

  • Periyar founded the self-respect movement with the aim of instilling a distinct personality in the hearts and minds of the people in the caste-based society of India under Brahminical domination.
  • Caste discrimination has long been a social evil that India has struggled to rid itself of.
  • Codified in the Manusmriti, it has wiped out society for hundreds of years by dividing it into classes on the basis of birth and occupation.

Founder of Self Respect Movement

  • E. V. Ramaswamy alias Periyar considered Swaraj as political freedom and it was not a birthright for him. Protecting self-respect was a birthright.
  • He described this movement as Arivu Viduthalai Iyakkam i.e. the movement to liberate the intellect.
  • The brahmins attained the highest position in society as physicians and learners of dharma and the Sudras attained the lowest rung of the ladder as servants.
  • This would make them refuse to frown and face humiliation by members of the upper castes. He believed that caste is a mental prison and then a social prison.
  • One of his most popular quotes on self-esteem was, “We are worthy to think of ‘self-esteem’ when the notion of ‘superior’ and ‘low’ caste is removed from our land”.

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