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Swadeshi Campaign in Tamil Nadu: Subramania Bharati

Subramania Bharati: Poet and Nationalist

The growth of newspapers, both in English and Tamil language, aided the swadeshi movement in Tamil Nadu. G. Subramaniam was one of the first among the leaders to use newspapers to spread the nationalist message across a larger audience. Subramaniam, along with five others, founded The Hindu (in English) and Swadesamitran (which was the first ever Tamil daily). In 1906 a book was published by Subramaniam to condemn the British actions during the Congress Conference in Barsal. Swadesamitran extensively reported nationalistactivities, particularly the news regarding V.O.C. and his speeches in Tuticorin.

Subramania Bharati became the sub-editor of Swadesamitran around the time (1904) when Indian nationalism was looking for a fresh direction. Bharati was also editing Chakravartini, a Tamil monthly devoted to thecause of Indian women.

Two events had a significant impact on Subramania Bharati. A meeting in 1905 with Sister Nivedita, an Irish woman and a disciple of Vivekananda, whom he referred to as Gurumani (teacher), greatly inspired his nationalist ideals. The churning within the Congress on the nature of engagement with the British rule was also a contributory factor. As discussed earlier in this lesson, the militants ridiculed the mendicancy of the moderates who wanted to follow the constitutional methods. Bharati had little doubt, in his mind, that the British rule had to be challenged with a fresh approach and methods applied by the militant nationalists appealed to him more. For instance, his fascination with Tilak grew after the Surat session of the Congress in 1907. He translated into Tamil Tilak’s Tenets of the New Party and a booklet on the Madrasmilitants’ trip to the Surat Congress in 1907. Bharati edited a Tamil weekly India, which became the voice of the radicals.

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