If you are in the middle of your UPSC preparation, we’d like to add a topic to it. As we all know how important current affairs is for UPSC, today we have a historical topic for you. In this article, we will read about one of the most prominent UPSC topics: “Self Respect Movement”. We have covered all the important parts of it including, what is the self-respect movement? Who started the self-respect movement? And more!

Self Respect Movement Started by

The Self Respect Movement was led by S.Ramanathan in 1921 and appointed E.V Ramasamy to lead the campaign. Periyar, also known as E.V Ramasamy, is renowned as the “Father of Modern Tamil Nadu.” Periyar was a forerunner of his time as a community leader, politician, and philosopher. He was a key figure in the development of the Dravidian framework and philosophy, which influenced Tamil Nadu politics. The Dravidian Movement is another name for the Self-Respect Movement. The disintegration of Brahminical hegemony, equal opportunities for the weaker sections and women in the workplace, and revival of the Dravidian languages, which also included Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada and Tamil were the three primary ideals preached via this movement.

Aim of Self Respect Movement UPSC

The goal of Periyar’s Self-Respect Movement is to create a society in which backward castes have basic civil rights as higher castes, as well as to inspire backward castes to have self-respect in a caste-based culture where they are believed to be at the bottom of the caste system.

The Self-Respect movement is a well-known movement in South Asia. S.Ramanathan established the movement in 1921. S. Ramanathan appointed E V Ramaswamy (fondly known as Periyar by his adoring fans) to lead the campaign in 1925.

What is the Self Respect Movement? Founder of Self Respect Movement

E.V. Ramaswamy, is known as the ‘Father of Modern Tamil Nadu.’ In Tamilnadu, he led the anti-Brahminical campaign. Not just in Tamil Nadu, but also in other nations with major Tamil populations, including Singapore and Malaysia, the movement had a significant impact.

E.V. Ramaswamy was a forerunner in politics, social activism, and thought. Dravidian is another name for the Self-Respect Movement. He thought that the independence movement championed by leaders such as Gandhi and Nehru did not allow for personal liberty. True freedom, he claimed, is found in one’s ability to be free of oneself.

The Principle of Self Respect Movement – Important UPSC Topic

The words tan-Maanam or suyamariyathai, which imply “self-respect,” may be found in ancient Tamil literature and are regarded as a high-valour virtue in Tamil culture.

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Other Important Principles

# There will be no inequity among people;

# In economic life, there is no distinction between affluent and poor;

# Men and women should be treated equally in every way, with no distinctions;

# There is no economic equality in society;

# There is no disparity between males and women;

# The guarantee of India’s inhabitants’ universal unity and friendliness;

# Caste, religion, varna, and nation attachments should be removed from society, with widespread friendliness and harmony throughout the world;

# The Brahminic dominion has crumbled.

# Every human being must try to behave in accordance with reason, awareness, desire, and viewpoint, and no individual being must be subjected to any form of slavery. The Self Respect Movement’s core topic was equality, with a focus on social and political justice.

# Dravidian languages such as Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, and Malayalam were revitalised.

Contemporary Relevance of Its Principles

Periyar devised the notion of developing a self-respect movement as a tool for attaining his goal of liberating society from some of the detrimental social practises carried out in the guise of dharma and karma.

The Self-Respect Movement has evolved into a significant anti-caste movement that has challenged Indian society’s hierarchy. The movement emphasised the significance of inter-caste marriages as well as women’s physical autonomy.

The movement was founded on feminist principles and campaigned for a society in which a woman could choose her own sexual, reproductive, and physical decisions. In India, the campaign marked a watershed moment for feminism. It placed a strong emphasis on ensuring that women had access to both permanent birth control and contraception.

The Self-Respect Marriage System was one of the most significant social transformations brought about by the self-respect movement.

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Effect on Brahmins

It attacked the dominance of Brahmins as the higher caste and, as a result, promoted the promotion of self-respect for people in India’s caste-based system. Individuality, according to the movement, can only be established once one has gained self-respect. The movement’s high objective was to achieve equality in all aspects of life. It aimed to free society from harmful social practises carried out in the name of caste and religion, which resulted in a vicious circle of discrimination, including caste-based employment and untouchability. People were encouraged to act irrationally as a result of casteism, which hindered their capacity to act in accordance with reason, comprehension, and perspective.

Self Respect Marriages

The regulation of self-respect marriages, wherein a marriage could be attended without the presence of a Brahmin priest, was among the most important service quality sociological changes brought about by the Self-Respect Movement, as most ceremonies were carried in Sanskrit, which most people did not understand, and thus rituals were based on rigid obedience. Weddings should not be constrained by caste, according to the movement, which advocated inter-caste and inter-religious marriages in which one should be allowed to meet the person of one’s preference. Because of the popularity of child weddings, many girls were bereaved at a young age, the self-respect marriages also applied to widows remarrying. As a result, the campaign was able to attract a large female audience. Tamil Nadu was among the first states to allow Hindu weddings to take place without the presence of a Brahmin priest, resulting in a surge in inter-caste marriages.

Self Respect Movement on Feminist Principles

Aside from anti-caste ideas, the Self-Respect Movement had strong feminist principles. It argued for a society in which a person’s sexual, psychological, and reproductive choices were her own. Periyar’s strategy aimed to give women access to contraception and long-term birth control at a time when there was a lot of debate about anti-conception medicines across the country. The feminist philosophy of the movement pushed for equal rights for women to choose their relationships, divorce, and remarry. By eliminating gender hierarchies and gender norms, the Self Respect Movement hoped to bring about a dramatic change in heterosexual relationships. It highlighted the necessity of men and women sharing household work and child-rearing responsibilities.

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Other Goals of Self Respect Movement – Facts to Know for UPSC

One of the movement’s main goals was to eliminate the devadasi system, which was prominent in the country’s eastern and southern regions. Women between the ages of 7 and 36 were expected to devote their lives to the temple god, performing different skills. Initially, the position of a devadasi was seen as respectable, but subsequently, during the colonial era, the devadasi system was criticised for committing prostitution by bearing numerous children to priests and affluent patrons. Furthermore, the devadasi system kept these women out of society. As a result, the movement included women from all areas of life who were actively participating in rallies for human rights. The Self-Respect Movement’s main goal was to bring about social change in society. It affected the lives of people from all walks of life, not just by criticising the caste system in use at the time, but also by advocating for gender equality.

Self Respect Movement: DMK and AIADMK

Periyar never intended for this movement to become political, but it became so over time. As the movement got more political, its leaders became more power-hungry, and corruption began to emerge. The Dravidian movement may be traced back to the origins of Tamil Nadu’s two major parties, the DMK and AIADMK. Each of these Tamil Nadu political parties has controlled the state for almost half a century. These groups have unquestionably brought about substantial social change, but their primary goal has since shifted to capturing the public mandate and engaging in vote bank tactics. Regrettably, most of our country’s popular movements, which have great goals of bringing fundamental changes to our society, seem to stray from their original objectives.


We hope that you found the article informative and note down some notes from it. The UPSC examination has been the most prestigious exam for assessing a candidate’s overall qualities for appointment to honourable posts in the country. This test has questions from all around the country. You might be asked anything at all from the curriculum or something completely unrelated to it. You would have to be prepared to respond to anything. Every aspirant must be in the habit of reading newspapers and absorbing daily information.

To catch more informative articles like this, visit UPSC Pathshala.

Also Read: What is the Nipun Bharat Mission? All You Need to Know about the Mission for UPSC

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About the Author

Madhurjya Chowdhury

Madhurjya Chowdhury, a web content writer in Ufaber EduTech has a very strong passion for writing and alluring the readers. You can find him writing articles for the betterment of exam aspirants and children. With immense interest in research-based content writing and copywriting, he likes to reach out to more and more people with his creative writing style. On the other side, he is an Electronics and Communication Engineer from LPU, Jalandhar. In his leisure time, he likes to play badminton or read about space discoveries. Apart from this, he is a pro gamer on PC, PS and Mobile gaming platforms.

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