status for themselves through borrowing customs, manners and taboos from
groups traditionally superior) also led to these movements, for example,
movements of the Nadars and Pallis of Tamil Nadu and those of the Ezhavas
and Nairs of Kerala.
Further, the desire of some radical elements to improve the lot of the
lower and intermediate castes by attacking Brahmin domination, and at times
by challenging the very basis of the caste system, played a dominant role in
these movements, for instance. Self-respect movement in Tamil Nadu, and
the Mahar and Satyashodak movements (the latter in its rural aspect) in
Finally, the British also contributed to the rise of these movements. Their
contribution was indirect before 1901 (through their policy of divide and rule,
that is, turning caste against caste) and direct after 1901 (the 1901 Census
began the practice of classifying castes in a social hierarchical order which
encouraged a flood of claims and counter-claims by different castes).
Justice Movement It was an intermediate caste movement launched in
Madras around 1915-16 by C.N. Mudaliar, T.M. Nair and P. Tyagaraja Chetti
on behalf of intermediate castes (like Tamil Vellalas, Mudaliars and
Chettiars; Telugu Reddis, Kammas and Baliza Naidus; and Malayali Nair’s)
and against Brahmin predominance in education, government service and
They founded a new political party, known as the ‘Justice Party’ which
exhibited its loyalty to the British government in the hope of getting more
government jobs and representation in the new legislatures.
Self-respect Movement It was a populist and radical movement founded in
1925 in Tamil Nadu by E.V. Ramaswamy Naicker popularly known as
‘Periyar’, against the Brahmin domination. It advocated weddings without
Brahmin priests, forcible temple entry, burning of the Manu Smriti and
outright atheism at times. Periyar founded a Tamil journal, Kudi Arasa, in
1924 in order to propagate his ideas.