J BalasubramaniamAssistant ProfessorDept. of Journalism and Science Communication
As Stuart Hall says “identity as a ‘production’ which is never complete, always in process, and always constituted within, not outside, representation.”
In India the process of objectifying people started during the colonial period through the decennial census in 1871. British colonial government categorized the natives according to their family, religion, caste, village etc; but it affected a lot in Indians’ social life.
In the year 1916, the Indian Legislative Council defined the “depressed classes” should include a) criminal and wandering tribes b) aboriginal tribes and c) untouchables. in 1917, Sir Henry Sharp, Educational Commissioner of the government of India, prepared a list of depressed classes in which the following social groups were included a) aboriginal or hill tribes b) depressed classes and c) criminal tribes.
Pandit Iyothee Thass vigorously criticized the term Depressed Classes in his Tamilan weekly. he writes that “those who are really concerned about to improve the position of the poor people and reform the society will never coin the term depressed classes. This is nothing but one of the strategies to humiliate and suppress the people by calling them as depressed classes.” (Tamilian, 24 May 1911).
M.C. Rajah criticized the term Panchama by saying that “everyone knows very well that there are only four varnas in the hindu religion, creating fifth varna of Panchama is nothing but to humiliate these people
Iyothee Thass coined ‘Sathipedamatra Dravidan’ (Non-Caste Dravidian) and Adi- Tamilar (Native Tamil). M.C. Rajah supported the term Adi-Dravidan.
The Madras Local Boards and Madras Districts Municipalities Acts, 1920 prescribed the term Adi-Dravida to be followed to mention certain castes. In 15 March 1922 the same Act was passed in the Madras Legislative Council.
M.C.Rajah says that the “these people felt that they must have a name which refer to the first citizen of the South India. In 1895 these people selected the name Adi-Dravida in order to differentiate themselves from the sudras who called themselves as Dravdians. He also gave the meaning for Adi as pure and unadulterated”.
Dalits compose 45% of total Tamils migrants to. Sri Lanka. Colombo and Butler-English, emerged as a new political class among the Adi-Dravidas.
The monthly Adi-Dravidan was founded in March 1919. In 19th century Dravida Mitran (1885), Dravida Pandian (1885) But in the early 20th century their journals were named as Madras Adi- Dravidan(1919), Adi-Dravidan (1919), Adi- Dravida Pathukavalan (1927) Adi-Dravida Mitran (1936).
As the media offer resources for the construction of the self, in history Dalit intellectuals offered resources through print for the construction of Adi-Dravida identity.