Remembering a fearless champion of the Dalit cause

08 Jul 2020  Wed

Rettamalai Srinivasan was the reformer, editor, and social justice warrior who carried a strong spirit fighting for equality and civil rights for the Dalits rubbing shoulders with another great icon of modern India, Ambedkar. A Paraiyar icon and a close associate of Mahatma Gandhi, Srinivasan remembered today as one of the pioneers of the scheduled caste movement in India.

Fondly referred to as “Thatha” (Grandpa), Rettamalai Srinivasan was born on July 7, 1860, in Kancheepuram in the erstwhile Madras Presidency. 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).

In 1930 and 1931, Rettamalai Srinivasan & Dr. BR Ambedkar were called to Britain in the first two Round Table Conferences to represent interests of the depressed classes. At Windsor castle, Srinivasan publicly refused to shake King George V’s hand & proclaimed- “I am an untouchable!”

Commemorative stamps have been issued in memory of Rettamalai Srinivasan by the Department of Posts of the Government of India.

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