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Swadeshi Campaign in Tamil Nadu: Introduction

Swadeshi Campaign in Tamil Nadu

Swadeshi movement in Tamil Nadu, notably in Tirunelveli district, generated a lot of attention and support. While the Swadeshi movement in Tamil Nadu had an all India flavour, with collective anger against the British rule remaining the common thread, it was also underpinned by Tamil – pride and consciousness. There was a deep divide in the Tamilnadu congress between the moderates and the extremists.

(a) Development of Vernacular Oratory

Initially, the movement was more of a reaction to the partition of Bengal and regular meetings were held to protest the partition. The speakers, in such meetings, spoke mostly in the vernacular language to an audience that included students, lawyers, and labourers at that time. The shift from English oratory to vernacular oratory was a significant development of this time, which had a huge impact on the mass politics in Tamil Nadu.

Swadeshi meetings at the Marina beach in Madras were a regular sight. The Moore Market complex in Madras was another venue utilised for such gatherings. During the period (1905-1907) there are police reports calling students dangerous and their activities as seditious. Europeans in public places were greeted by the students with shouts of Vande Mataram. In 1907, Bipin Chandra Pal came to Madras and his speeches on the Madras Beach electrified the audience and won new converts to the nationalist cause. The visit had a profound impact all over Tamil Nadu. The public speeches in the Tamil language created an audience which was absent during the formative years of the political activities in Tamil Nadu.

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