M. C. Rajah

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Mylai Chinna Thambi Pillai Rajah
Born (1883-06-17)17 June 1883
St. Thomas Mount, Madras
Died 20 August 1943(1943-08-20) (aged 60)
St. Thomas Mount, Madras
Nationality Indian
Other names M. C. Rajah
Alma mater Madras Christian College
Occupation Dalit rights activist, freedom fighter, politician

Rao Bahadur Mylai Chinna Thambi Pillai Rajah (17 June 1883 – 20 August 1943) was a Paraiyar politician, social and political activist from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.

Rajah was born to a poor Tamil family of Madras. He entered politics after graduation and was a leader of Paraiyars in the Justice Party. However, he quit the party in 1923 over the party's treatment of Dalits and allied with Dr. B. R. Ambedkar before parting ways over ideological differences. Rajah died in 1943. In his heyday, Rajah was considered to be a person equal in stature to Ambedkar. Rajah, along with Ambedkar and Rettamalai Srinivasan, represented the Dalits at the Second Round Table Conference in London.He fought for 30 percent reservations for dalits. He quit Justice Party about reservations. Later Sir KV Reddy took him as a cabinet minister in his interim government. He was follower of Sir KV Reddy Naidu in Anti-Brahmin Movement.

Early life[edit]

Rajah was born to Mylai Chinna Thambi Pillai in 1883[2] at St Thomas Mount, Madras, Chennai.[3] Chinna Thambi Pillai was the manager of Lawrence Asylum.[4] Rajah had his schooling at the Wesley Mission High School, Royapettah[4] and Wesley College.[5] He graduated from Madras Christian College[citation needed] and worked as a school master.[6]

Non-Brahmin movement[edit]

Rajah joined politics at an early age and was elected president of the Chingleput district board.[7] In 1916, he became the Secretary of the Adi-Dravida Mahajana Sabha.[8] He was one of the founder-members of the South Indian Liberal Federation. Rajah was elected to the Madras Legislative Council as a Justice Party candidate during the first general elections held in November 1920.[5][9] He was elected Deputy Leader of the Justice Party in the house.[10] Rajah was the first member of the Dalit community to be elected to the Madras Legislative Council.[10] In 1922, Rajah passed a resolution demanding that the terms "Paraiya" and "Panchama" be dropped from official usage and instead be substituted with "Adi-Dravida" and "Adi-Andhra".[8]

In 1921, the Justice Party government of the Raja of Panagal introduced reservations for backward classes in government jobs. However, this act did not allocate quotas for Dalits.[11] Disenchanted, Rajah led a delegation of Dalits to protest the act and press their demand for inclusion. But the Justice Party did not respond.[11] Instead, when riots broke out in Puliyanthope the same year, top-ranking Justice Party leaders regarded the Government's policy of appeasement of Dalits responsible for the strike.[12] Outraged at this, Rajah quit the party in 1923.[11][12] He remained a member of the Madras Legislative Council till 1926. In 1928, he created and became the president of the All India Depressed Castes Association. From 1926 till 1937, he was a member of the Imperial Legislative Assembly.[citation needed] During April–July 1937 he was the Madras Presidency's Minister for Development in the short lived interim provisional cabinet of Kurma Venkata Reddy Naidu.[13]

Parting of ways with Ambedkar[edit]

In 1932, M. C. Rajah concluded a pact with two members of the Indian National Congress, Dr. B. S. Moonje[14][15] and Jadhav. According to this pact, Moonje offered reserved seats to scheduled castes in return for Rajah's support. This demand prompted B. R. Ambedkar to make an official demand for Separate electorates on an all-India basis.

By late 1935, Rajah had already decided not to support Dr. Ambedkar's intention of religious conversion from Hinduism. Rajah, as well as other Dalit leaders, felt that conversion from Hinduism would undermine the morale of Dalit and forward-caste Hindu activists engaged in a two-front war against both "upper"-cast reactionaries as well as the British.

Rajah states:

The Congress, under the inspiration of Gandhi, has taken up the question of removal of Untouchability and the Hindu Mahasabha has followed suit. It is our duty to help them in their endeavor and not to throw obstacles in their way. […] Hinduism is our religion and it is sacred to us. It is our duty to preserve it and purify it. We do not want to cut away from the Hindu fold. We want better recognition - a recognition of the fact that we are men equally with the caste-Hindus.

M.C. Rajah, from a source quoted by Jaffrelot in Dr. Ambedkar and Untouchability: Fighting the Indian Caste System, p. 128[1]


Rajah died on 20 August 1943 at his house on "St. Thomas Mount", today named Rajah Street.[7]


  • Rajah, M. C. (1939). Independence Without, Freedom Within: Speech of Rao Bahadur M.C. Rajah, M.L.A., at the Madras Legislative Assembly on the 26th October 1939 on the Congress Resolution on India and the War. 
  • Rajah, M. C.; J. Shivashunmugham Pillai (1930). The Life, Select Writings and Speeches of Rao Bahadur M. C. Rajah. Indian Publishing House. 

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Jaffrelot, Christophe (2005). Dr. Ambedkar and Untouchability: Fighting the Indian Caste System. Columbia University Pree Publishers. p. 128. ISBN 0-231-13602-1. 
  2. ^ Reed, Stanley (1929). The Times of India Directory and Year Book Including Who's who. Bennett, Coleman & Co. p. 114. 
  3. ^ Chandra, Romesh; Sangh Mitthra (2003). Dalit Identity in the New Millennium. Commonwealth Publishers. p. 91. ISBN 8171697658, ISBN 978-81-7169-765-6. 
  4. ^ a b Kshirasagara, Ramachandra (1994). Dalit Movement in India and Its Leaders, 1857-1956: 1857-1956. M. D. Publications. p. 302. ISBN 8185880433, ISBN 978-81-85880-43-3. 
  5. ^ a b Indian Bibliographic Centre Research Wing, Indian Bibliographic Centre (2000). Dictionary of Indian Biography. Indian Bibliographic Centre. p. 348. ISBN 8185131155, ISBN 978-81-85131-15-3. 
  6. ^ Chandrahekar, S. (1995). Colonialism, Conflict, and Nationalism: South India, 1857-1947. Wishwa Prakashan. p. 110. ISBN 8173280401, ISBN 978-81-7328-040-5. 
  7. ^ a b Natesan, G. A. (1943). The Indian Review. G.A. Natesan & Co. p. 425. 
  8. ^ a b Jaffrelot, Christophe (2003). India's silent revolution: Rise of lower castes in North India. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers. p. 169. ISBN 978-1-85065-670-8. 
  9. ^ NMML Manuscripts: An Introduction. Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. 2003. p. 410. ISBN 8187614056, ISBN 978-81-87614-05-0. 
  10. ^ a b Sen, Siba Pada (1972). Dictionary of National Biography. Institute of Historical Studies. 
  11. ^ a b c Jaffrelot, Christophe (2003). India's silent revolution: Rise of lower castes in North India. C. Hurst & Co. Publishers. p. 175. ISBN 978-1-85065-670-8. 
  12. ^ a b Mendelsohn, Oliver; Marika Vicziany (1998). The Untouchables: Subordination, Poverty, and the State in Modern India. Cambridge University Press. p. 94. ISBN 0521556716, ISBN 978-0-521-55671-2. 
  13. ^ Justice Party Golden Jubilee Souvenir, 1968. 
  14. ^ Pritchett. "Rajah, Rao Bahadur M. C.". University of Columbia. Retrieved 5 January 2009. 
  15. ^ Kothari, R. (2004). Caste in Indian Politics. Orient Blackswan. p. 46. ISBN 8125006370, ISBN 978-81-250-0637-4. 

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