- March 31, 2023
- Posted by: OptimizeIAS Team
- Category: DPN Topics
Subject : History
Section: Modern INDIA
- Tamil Nadu Chief Minister announced that the government was planning year-long events to commemorate the Vaikom Satyagraha that was launched to end caste discrimination in a local temple a century ago.
- The award would be given to eminent personalities or organisations that worked for the welfare of oppressed sections beyond the State borders.
- It would be awarded on Periyar E.V. Ramasamy’s birth anniversary on September 17, which is also being observed as Day of Social Justice by Tamil Nadu.
- Periyar was among the leaders who took part in the movement and went on to earn the title ‘VaikomVeerar’.
About Vaikom Satyagraha
- Vaikom Satyagraha, from 30 March 1924 to 23 November 1925, was a non violent agitation for access to the prohibited public environs of the Vaikom Temple in the Kingdom of Travancore.
- Kingdom of Travancore was known for its rigid and oppressive caste system and hence Swami Vivekananda called Travancore a “lunatic asylum”.
- The campaign, led by Congress leaders T. K. Madhavan, K. Kelappan and K. P. Kesava Menon, was noted for the active support and participation offered by different communities and a variety of activists.
- Most of the great temples in the princely state of Travancore had for years forbidden lower castes (untouchables) not just from entering, but also from walking on the surrounding roads.
- The agitation was conceived by the Ezhava Congress leader and a follower of Sri Narayana Guru, T. K. Madhavan.
- It demanded the right of the Ezhavas and ‘untouchables’ to use roads around the Vaikom Temple.
- Mahatma Gandhi himself visited Vaikom in March, 1925.
Reach of the movement
- The movement was backed by Gandhiji, ChatampiSwamikal, and Sree Narayana Guru.
- Prominent Leaders in Kerala such as T. Madhavan, K.P. Kesava Menon and George Joseph launched the movement.
- Periyar and KovaiAyyamuthu from Tamil Nadu worked in tandem with leaders in Kerala despite facing repressive action.
- The campaign gained popularity throughout India, and supporters arrived from around the country.
- Punjab’s Akalis helped by establishing kitchens to feed the Satyagrahis.
- Even Muslim and Christian authorities backed the initiative.
- Travancore government eventually constructed new roads near the temple for the use of lower castes.
- The roads, however, kept the lower castes adequately away from the near environs of the Vaikom Temple and the temple remained closed to the lower castes.
- After the intervention of Mahatma Gandhi, the agitation was given up and a compromise reached with Regent Sethu Lakshmi Bayi who released all those arrested and opened the north, south and west public roads leading to Vaikom Mahadeva Temple to all castes.
- Only in 1936, after the Temple Entry Proclamation, was access to the eastern road and entry into the temple allowed to the lower castes.
- Vaikom Satyagraha markedly brought the method of nonviolent public protest to Kerala.
- This was the first time in Kerala that an organised effort for the fundamental rights of untouchables and other backward castes was carried out on such a large scale.
- It became India’s principal human rights campaign.
- The Satyagraha movement became a trial ground for significant methodologies such as Satyagraha.
- It instilled reason in the people.