Origin of Self-determination for Tamils is Tamil Nadu: Homeland for World Tamils is Tamil Nadu
We must first understand the premise that the same ethnic group cannot evolve in 2 different countries and both cannot seek self-determination separately in the two different countries. If we agree to this fundamental theory, we can move forward to see which country Tamils first birthed in for it is that country that must have the right to seek self-determination. Were Tamils born in Tamil Nadu FIRST or in Sri Lanka is a question no one has asked or even cared to answer. The answer is crucial to the solution. In terms of timeline the original demand for self-determination for Tamils was in 1938 in Tamil Nadu and not Sri Lanka.
Madras Province consisted of Tamil Nadu (Tamil speakers) parts of Andhra Pradesh (Telugu speakers), Karnataka (Kannada speakers), Kerala (Malayalam speakers) and ruled by British. Other parts of Andhra, Karnataka & Kerala were ruled by kings who were ‘subservient’ to the British. In 1947 with Indian independence, Madras Province was renamed Madras State.
It is important to note that the independence of Tamil Nadu movement started FIRST before it drew the interests of non-Tamil but Dravida language speaking others who wanted independence for states of Dravida Nadu. The Tamil Nadu Independence movement is very clear that its independence from Indian rule began far before the Dravida Munneta Kazagam in 1949 (DMK) or Dravidar Kazahagam (DK) were formed.
In the mid 1950s India divided itself along linguistic states and with that ended the Dravida Nadu demand. 17 September 1949 was celebrated as ‘Dravida Nadu Liberation Day”.
Dravidar Kazahagam (DK) became an offshoot of the Self-Respect Movement / Justice Party formed by Periyar E V Ramaswamy in 1925.
Dravida Munnertra Kazhagam (DMK) founded on 17 September 1949 by C N Annadurai after splitting from Dravidar Kazhagam (DK).
Justice party members Periyar E V Ramaswamy and C N Annadurai initially called for Tamil Nadu independence in 1938. Periyar also headed the Self-Respect Movement. Periyar went on to head the Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) and Annadurai the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)
Addressing a meeting in October 1938, Periyar declared
“The best way to preserve the liberty of Tamils is to agitate for separation from the rest of India and the proposed All-India Federation”.
Periyar went on to become elected President of the Justice Party in December 1938 declaring its aim was the separation of Tamil Nadu from the rest of India. A few months before T P Vedachalam of the Justice Party founded Tamil Nation Liberation Association in August 1938.
The Justice Party was renamed Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) in 1944.
The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) was formed in 1949 by C N Annadurai. The same year Chelvanayagam formed the Tamil Nation party ITAK in Sri Lanka.
T M Parthasarathy on the DMK History says “Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra should each SEPARATELY become independent countries and THEN the four should join to form a ‘Dravidian Federation”.
Again what needs to be understood is that the terminologies of self-determination
Tamil Nadu’s bid for self-determination follows these argument:-
- “British India” was formed putting together independent princely kingdoms and territories.
- Tamils lost their sovereignty with the fall of the 3 major kingdoms of Chera, Chola and Pandya around 1311 by Sultans, Nayaks, Maharaashtrians & Nawabs followed thereafter by arrival of Europeans – all of Tamil Nadu was ruled by colonial Britain while Pondycherry was ruled by the French.
- 1947 – At independence Muslims in northwest and northeast objected to the creation of one country and so Britain created 2 countries – Pakistan & India. Tamil Nadu objected to this though Britain ignored this.
- 1938 August – Formation of Tamil National Liberation Association (Tamil Desa Viduthalai Sangam) by T P Vedachalam of the Justice Party became the 1st Tamil Nadu independence movement.
- 1938 October – E V Ramaswamy (Self-Respect Movement & later leader of Justice Party which became DK in 1944) declared “the best way to preserve the liberty of Tamils is to agitate for separation from the rest of India and the proposed All-India Federation”.
- 10 December 1939 C N Annadurai (founder of DMK) demanded independence – ‘Tamil Nadu for Tamils’
- 17 December 1939 Periyar of DK raised slogan “Dravida Nadu for Dravidians” changing his earlier “Tamil Nadu for Tamils’ but changed again to “Tamil Nadu for Tamils’ in 1960s evidenced in the Viduthalai magazine. Periyar died in 1973.
- 27 December 1939 – Provincial Tamil Conference in Vellore discussed Tamil Nadu independence.
- 24 August 1940 – Justice Party State Conference in Thiruvarur passed a resolution that to protect Dravidian culture, arts and economy Dravidian homeland of Madras Province needed. Thus the Tamil Nadu Independence Movement transgressed into Dravida Nadu Independence Movement. (refer article on “DMK & the Tamil Nadu Independence Movement”) From 1940 – 1962 calls for Dravida Nadu by DMK. The reason for this is said to be due to Telugu leaders A C Parthasarathy Naidu, Ragavaiah Naidu, K V Reddy Naidu all striving for Dravida Nadu independence.
- The British delegation (Cripps Mission) that came in 1942 refused the request for a separate Tamil state upon Indian independence.
- 1944 – C N Annadurai at DK Conference in Trichi “India is a continent and it should be divided into separate nations(countries).” “There is no need for it to be under a single government”. “India should be divided according to racial lines to prevent future bloodsheds”. “Aryan dominance grows under a single Indian country. Other races are destroyed”. “Dividing India into separate countries would allow for each to develop its economy according to its circumstances and prevent one region taking the wealth of another”.
- 14 October 1947 – Dravida Nadu Separation Conference held in Cuddalore, Tamil scholar V Kalyana Sundaram speaking about Aryan-Dravidian problem. Resolution calling for Dravida Nadu independence passed.
- V Kalyana Sundaram unveiled a map of Dravida Nadu at Dravidar Kazhagam Conference in Erode.
- 8 November 1950 – Madras State DMK Students Conference passed resolution for the independence of Dravida Nadu.
- 12-16 December 1951 – DMK State Conference called for ‘Dravida Nadu for Dravidians’
- DMK leaders demanded independent Dravida Nadu during 1952, 1957 and 1962 election campaigns.
- 13-16 July 1961 – DMK General Conference in Madurai called for ‘Dravida Nadu for Dravidians’
- 16-17 December 1961 – DMK Special Election Conference in Coimbatore ahead of February 1962 General Elections called for ‘Dravida Nadu for Dravidians’. DMK won 50 seats at the State Legislative Assembly & 7 seats in the Indian Parliament. DMK founder C N Annadurai was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1962 and in his May 1st maiden speech he reiterated demand for ‘Dravidians demand the right of self-determination….we want a separate country for Southern India’ His response to Indian President Dr. Radhakrishnan who said India was one country because Rama & Krishna are worshipped from Kanyakumari to Himalayas was “Jesus is worshipped throughout Europe, yet there are many countries in Europe”.
- 11 August 1962 – What is noteworthy is that when a by-election was held in Thiruchengodu following the resignation of Dr. Subarayan of Congress Party, Congress leaders campaigned asking people not to vote for DMK as it was a separatist party but the DMK candidate won leading to DMK leaders claiming it was a victory for ‘independence’.
- 22 September 1962 – DMK celebrated ‘Dravida Nadu Independence Festival’ in Chennai with over 200,000 participating.
- 1963 – Bids for separate independent Dravida Nadu & Tamil Nadu had to be abandoned when Indian Centre passed 16th amendment prohibiting anyone to advocate separatism.
- 13 November 1963 – DMK abandoned independence for Dravida Nadu after Indian Centre threatened to ban it from contesting elections if it continued with the independence demand.
- However, the 1967 election manifesto of DMK included the demand for increasing the devolution of powers of state governments. It won them a landslide victory no different to how TULF in SL won following the racist/separatist Vaddukoddai Resolution in 1976.
- 1994 – Poet Pavalareru carried sentiment of freedom for Tamil Nadu till his death in 1994.
- However, Thamizaharasan formed the Tamil Nadu Liberation Army (TNLA) in the mid-1980s though he was killed by the Indian Army though the group remains active.
What is noteworthy is that both Tamil Nadu and later Sri Lankan Tamils changed tactics – when the direct attempts to cede looked bleak they adopted the next strategy of asking for more devolutions without interference by the Centre to build the grounds to prepare to eventually cede. The present constitutional demands being made by racist Tamil leaders connected to the LTTE are very much aligned to this tactic & strategy. Even the call for a referendum in the North & East Sri Lanka is a copied version of the same call asked by Tamil Nadu far earlier.
However the quest for a separate Tamil state undeniably began in Tamil Nadu and not Sri Lanka. Open advocacy for it began in Sri Lanka only in 1976 with the Vaddukoddai Resolution
Some answers are certainly needed
- Did Tamils seek self-determination when British was decolonizing? Yes & Tamil Nadu made this request before India was given independence but was rejected. It must be remembered that there was never a nation called India until 1947 when the British cobbled independent territories and kingdoms to declare independence as India. This means that every state that artificially turned into an Indian state has the right to argue for self-determination and this is what will lead to the eventual balkanization of India by the West as they did to the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. There was no such demand for self-determination by Tamils at the time of independence in Sri Lanka – the Tamil elite were only worried about losing what they were disproportionately enjoying under British rule.
- Where did the ethnic group Tamils originate? Where did the Tamil culture, language originate – it is where all these originated that can seek right to self-determination. The golden rule is – the same ethnic group cannot use the same arguments for self-determination in two separate and independent countries. In short it means – One & the same ethnic group cannot demand several mono-ethnic-homelands in different continents and countries – this is likely to create an ugly precedence globally, the UN and the West must NOT ignore this fact.
- Isn’t it because Tamils in Sri Lanka descend from Tamil Nadu that both Tamil Nadu leaders & even the Indian Government are eternally interfering in Sri Lanka’s internal affairs to look into the ‘grievances of the Tamil people’. How do we differentiate Tamils who were either brought from Tamil Nadu or came as illegal immigrants from Tamil Nadu to Sri Lanka over the past centuries?
- If the Tamils in Sri Lanka has no link to Tamils in Tamil Nadu why would they call themselves Tamils and why would India and/or Tamil Nadu keep interfering in Sri Lanka claiming the Sri Lankan Tamils to be their brothers/sisters?! Similarly, Sri Lankan Tamil leaders have themselves like Ponnambalam etc openly claimed they are proud Dravidians than Sri Lankans (Ceylonese). Again showing where the root allegiance lies.
So the place where the first calls initiated for self-determination is where the real Homeland of the Tamils is and that place is nowhere else but Tamil Nadu as can be seen from the examples and demands given above.
Therefore, it is very clear that the real Eelam or Homeland of Tamils is and should be in Tamil Nadu and nowhere else. Those claiming homeland in Sri Lanka must argue their case not as Tamils but in another name. The moment calls for a Tamil Homeland emerges it automatically rests in Tamil Nadu not Sri Lanka where all the ingredients for self-determination prevails.
It is possible that even Tamils in Sri Lanka and even Tamils in Tamil Nadu may not be aware of these ground realities. But its about time they did as should the Sinhalese leaders and citizens as well.
Independence for Tamil Nadu is our Birthright! We will ask for it! We will fight for it! We will achieve it!!
Shenali D Waduge
Further reading : www.spur.asn.au 262 Viewers