Rettamalai Srinivasan

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Rettamalai Srinivasan
R Srinivasan 2000 stamp of India.jpg
Srinivasan (left) and Ambedkar (right) on a 2000 stamp of India
Born(1860-07-07)7 July 1860
Died18 September 1945(1945-09-18) (aged 85)
Occupationlawyer, journalist and politician

Diwan Bahadur Rettamalai Srinivasan (1860–1945), commonly known as R. Srinivasan, was a Scheduled Caste activist and politician from then Madras Presidency of British India (now the Indian state of Tamil Nadu). He is a Dalit icon and was a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi and was also an associate of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.[1] He is remembered today as one of the pioneers of the Scheduled caste movement in India. He founded the Adi dravida mahajana sabha in 1893.[2]

Early life[edit]

Rettamalai Srinivasan was born in 1860 in a poor Tamil family in Madras Presidency.[3] He was a brother-in-law of the famous scheduled castes activist Iyothee Thass. He worked as a translator in a South African court when Gandhi was practicing there as an advocate; he was instrumental in the father of the nation putting his signature in Tamil as "Mo.Ka. Gandhi" (Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in Tamil).[1][4]

Srinivasan established and led the Paraiyar Mahajana Sabha in 1891[5] which later became the Adi-Dravida Mahajana Sabha.[4][5] He founded a Tamil newspaper called Paraiyan in October 1893[6] which started selling as a monthly with four pages for the price of four annas.[7] However, Paraiyan experienced great difficulties in its early days.[citation needed]

Srinivasan was a participant in the freedom movement and an arrest warrant was issued against him claiming that he was fleeing the nation. In 1896, a case was filed against the newspaper and Srinivasan was dragged to the court citing a letter to the editor. The editor Srinivasan was fined Rs. 100 for his writings.[8]

Front page of the Tamil magazine Paraiyan launched by Rettamalai Srinivasan in 1893

Round Table Conference[edit]

Rettamalai Srinivasan memorial building, Gandhi Mandapam, Chennai.

Rettamalai Srinivasan represented the Paraiyars in the first two Round Table Conferences in London (1930 and 1931) along with Dr. B. R. Ambedkar.[9] In 1932, Ambedkar, M. C. Rajah and Rettamalai Srinivasan briefly joined the board of the Servants of Untouchables Society established by Gandhi[10] In 1936, he established the Madras Province Scheduled Castes' Party.

In 1936 he was conferred to the title of 'Diwan Bahadur' by British govt. for his service to Depressed Classes.[11]


Statue of Rettamalai Srinivasan, Gandhi Mandapam, Chennai

Commemorative stamps have been issued in memory of Rettamalai Srinivasan by the Department of Posts of the Government of India.[12] Cadres of the Viduthalai Siruthaigal party claimed to have discovered the remains of the Paraiyar leader in Otteri and constructed a memorial over his mortal remains and named it Urimai Kalam.[5] On 6 July 2011, Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had directed that his birth anniversary on 7 July be observed as a government function and ministers to honour him by garlanding his statue located inside Gandhi Mandapam, Chennai.[1]

His grandson B. Parameswaran became a minister in the Government of Tamil Nadu and a member of the Indian parliament.


  1. ^ a b c "'Govt to celebrate Rettamalai Srinivasan's birthday'". The Hindu. 6 July 2011. Retrieved 3 November 2011.
  2. ^ Cotextualizing scheduled caste Movement in South India, Pg 10
  3. ^ Talisman, Pg xxvi
  4. ^ a b Thirumavalavan, Pg 227
  5. ^ a b c Thirumavalavan, Pg 44
  6. ^ Talisman, Pg xxvii
  7. ^ Rajan, Nalini (2007). 21st Century Journalism in India. p. 66. ISBN 9780761935612.
  8. ^ Rajan, Nalini (2007). 21st Century Journalism in India. p. 70. ISBN 9780761935612.
  9. ^ Cotextualizing Dalit Movement in South India, Pg 29
  10. ^ A saga of long struggle – TAMIL NADU – The Hindu
  11. ^ Teltumbde, Anand (19 August 2016). Dalits: Past, present and future. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-315-52643-0.
  12. ^ "No rules violated in stamp release function". The Hindu. 19 August 2004. Retrieved 9 October 2008.


Further reading[edit]

  • Mohan, J. (2001). History of Dalit Struggle for Freedom: Dravidian Parties and Dalit Uprise in Tamil Nadu. Dhamma Institute of Social Sciences.
  • Mohan, Pullam Ethiraj (1993). Scheduled Castes, History of Elevation, Tamil Nadu, 1900–1955: History of Elevation, Tamil Nadu, 2000–2015. New Era Publications.