Periyar’s powerful journalism

Most people don’t know enough about this aspect of his legacy – this, when his contribution to the field of journalism is so significant and so original that he can be called ‘Periyar’ (the great one) even if we forget about all his other contributions, writes Omprakash Kashyap

Periyar’s public life was very hectic and multidimensional. He fought simultaneously on many fronts for the rights of the Tamil people, especially the non-Brahmins, and to arouse a feeling of self-respect in them. He fought against caste-based discrimination and inequality, sociopolitical hegemony, religious hypocrisy, social evils and customs, suppression of women, Devadasi system, child marriage and ban on widow remarriage. There was hardly a concern which was not his concern. There was hardly any tragic situation he didn’t fight against. He was a businessman, leader, social reformer, thinker, linguist, scientist, rationalist, agitator and guide – all rolled into one. There was one more dimension to his multi-faceted personality. He was also a journalist and a writer. Most people don’t know enough about this aspect of his legacy – this, when his contribution to the field of journalism is so significant and so original that he can be called “Periyar” (the great one) even if we forget about all his other contributions. He was associated with newspapers and magazines titled Kudi Arasu (1925), Dravidian (1927), Revolt (1928), Puratchi (1933), Pagutharivu (1934), Viduthalai (1935), Justice (1942), Unmai (1970) and The Modern Rationalist (1971). He launched some of them, edited others. He spent a sizable chunk of his earnings on these newspapers and journals. He lost money in these ventures and was jailed on many occasions for the writings that he published. But he did not allow that to alter his concern. His commitment to human values was unshakeable.

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