“Thanthai” Periyar E. V. Ramasamy is a social reformer from South India, where he was challenging the caste discrimination and oppression by spearheading the rationalist, self-respect movement, which was started to challenge the brahmanical hegemony in India. He was a great leader with huge followers from South India, worked for marginalized section and women empowerment and he had written so much literature on all those aspects of social reform.
This is a transcript of the welcome address given by Chaitanya Diwadkar, Treasurer, AKSC, on the 140th birthday commemoration on Sep 22 2018 conducted by various progressive organisations in Bay Area.
What Periyar means to Silicon Valley?
Fascism and regressive right-wing ideology are on the rise all around the world and so Periyar is relevant to us more than ever. And this is especially true for us, as people living in Silicon Valley. Periyar would have loved one thing about Silicon Valley – it’s ability for innovation. But I think he would have hated everything else about Silicon Valley – the stark inequality, the injustice of hunger and housing, expensive education, sexism against women in the tech industry, the race and class and caste divisions, and the threat of capitalist Hindutva fascism in which some of the Indian diaspora still indulges. I imagined what Periyar would have said to us if he could be with us in Silicon Valley today. I put together a few quotes from him.
So all of what follows are Periyar’s words different aspects of social revolution he was spearheading
History bears out that the threat of power has never stopped any reform. Social changes will always occur. People also will undergo social change.
Tentative and superficial changes here and there in the name of social reform will not bear fruit.
There is no alternative! The present social set-up should be destroyed at its very base, and a new social order, free from caste and class must be created.
Without an upheaval in our attitude to religion, caste, customs, traditions, orthodoxies, God, and commandments, which are the bases of social tyranny, no political reform will be of any use to the ordinary folk.
If a condition free from tensions and discriminations is to be established, a pattern of socialism for all should be created. To bring this about, the right to property should be abolished and property should be held in common.
Capitalism should be destroyed at the roots, if the cares and worries of the workers are to be put to an end.
Just as machines, invented for the social good of people, to give them added advantage and to save them labor and time, are under the control of the capitalists to keep the worker and the laborer in hunger – so education that is to serve for the excellence, satisfaction and comfort of people has been enslaved by a few, to cause people pain, poverty and anxiety.
If male superiority survives in the world, the subjugation of women will continue. Until women put an end to the principle of male domination, it is certain that they will have no freedom. Because we do not realize that the subjugation of women leads to social ruin, that society which should grow, goes on declining day by day, despite its capacity for reason.
Chaitanya Diwadkar, San Francisco, California.
( Disclaimer : The opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The opinions appearing in the AKSC blog do not reflect the views of AKSC. The aim of AKSC blog is to promote debates by inviting diverse views on challenging oppressions and discriminations based on class, race, caste, gender and religion et al.)