by C. Kesavan on May 13, 1935


I feel sorry to address you on political matters at this darkening hour of the day and after a conference in which important political speeches were made — a conference which was presided over by a great man who has a wide knowledge and experience to pass an opinion on political matters. I think, however it would be better for me, as president of this meeting, to speak what I have to say though for a short time.

We are traders; we are agriculturists; we are industrialists. In short, we are businessmen. It is years since we entered into business. It was this our business that advanced this country It is about two years and a half since we began this agitation. Till then we had not paid any serious attention to the affairs of this country. But during this period of two years and a half since we have’ slightly left aside our industries, our commerce and our agricultural labours and diverted our attention to this business of political agitation. Political agitation has been made our present business. We estimate the progress of our business by the standard of the profit we have made in this our business. Measuring with that standard, we must consider that we are gainers in this business of political agitation. How our impediments have been removed, what are the ways that have been thrown open to us, these and others are the standards of measurement in the profit and loss account of our political agitation in this connection one thing we have to remember specially. In the matter of establishing our rights, one important thing which we see all over world’s history is that such thing cannot be acquired all at once. The great Russian revolution, Ireland’s struggle for Independent and struggle for Swaraj of-the Indian Empire are all the results of a long and continuous agitation carried on for so many years

Though the struggle for independence of the Indian Empire has not yet attained its ultimate goal, the way for independence is gradually being cleared all the while. Russia has already declared her independence. Ireland has declared her independence under De Valera. But fundamentally our agitation differs vastly from The agitation of Russia and of Ireland. All such agitations as I mentioned already were intended to overthrow the existing ‘forms of Government of the various countries and to establish new forms of Government in their place. There is no comparison between oar agitation and the agitation intended to create a new Government by overthrowing the established Governments. Our agitation is a struggle for securing the rights granted to us by His Highness our Maha Raja. Hence there is no necessity for our struggle being carried on for such a long time as in the case of Ireland or of Russia Our agitation has nevertheless become so strong as to cause the officers of Travancore to run mad hither and thither throughout day and night and to make the Government incur an expenditure of several thousand of Rupees. Our business of agitation, therefore, for a period of two years and a half has been in a supremely advantageous position, in so far as length of time is concerned. Now let us consider the capital invested in this business of agitation. You might have been thinking that a sum of about three to four Iakhs of Rupees has been invested in this business of political agitation, in the words of His Highness the Maha Raja, has stirred Travancore from one end to the other. But Mr. N.V. Joseph has an account. If we go through that account, we shall never feel disappointed. One the other hand we shall be convinced that we have been carrying on this agitation with a very low amount. We have spent for this agitation only so small an amount as to startle an onlooker viewing our agitation from a far off country. Now we shall consider what bodily exertion we have endured in this behalf. What have we done so that it may be called bodily effort, for this agitation? When certain prohibitory orders were issued by the Government, the question of disobeying those orders was pelted at me by some fixing friends. On a referendum to ascertain how many there would be amongst the communities involved in Ibis agitation for disobeying those orders, it was a great disappointment to me and to my friend Mr. Mathunni.. I mention to you that fact with very great shame and sorrow. In the circumstances there has not been any bodily sacrifice or exertion of the body otherwise among us.. Since there has been no bodily exertion we need not feel sorry for it. We have been able to achieve so much with such slight bodily exertions In that respect too we are great gainers.

Many great Nair leaders—reputed Nair leaders from Travancore, from Cochin, nay from all parts of Kerala—took part in the Nair Mahajana Sabba held during the past week at Kottayam. What we heard as the prologue and epilogue of that conference was about the creation of a United Kerala. Mr. Palat and others said that a United Kerala might be created by starting Karayogams of the Nair Service Society all over Kerala. It has to be considered whether this is possible before the creation of a united Travancore This is a time when communal representation is stalking Travancore. In the case of British India, the agitation for communal representation was begun there from the days of Minto-Morly reforms. At last it challenged the nationalism of the Indian National Congress, led to the fasts of Mahatma Gandhi and created the Poona Pact- These are all stories we have heard already. For the safety of the Caste Hindus, the Indian National Congress and the leaders in British India tried to create an inter-communal fellowship and an Indian Nation in the Congress wherein the Caste Hindus have a large majority of representation. Similarly those worthy personages have assembled today in Travancore and passed resolutions for the creation of a United Kerala. We are disposed only to wonder at this They have not considered whether it is possible by the union of Nairs alone, when several communities are waging war against each other for communal rights and claims. To sensible people this would appear as a matter of ridicule. Those who are discerning enough will have no faith in the practicability of this idea. Are these people statesmen? They say that nationalism is their monopoly. They have strongly brought forward the question of efficiency to reduce to ashes the agitation for communal representation which has every likelihood of being accepted by whatever Government yet to come into existence. We are already aware of the arguments implied in the question of efficiency. We need not discuss it again. This is absolutely an ‘old rotten stuff. As observed by the President of the Reception Committee, efficiency is the monopoly of certain communities. In the circumstances, the monopolising communities who are riding on others feel that by means of the efficiency argument they can appropriate all the appointments No purity of purpose is implied in bringing forward this question of efficiency. Neither our Government nor any other Government have been hitherto able to find out the means by which this efficiency could be tested. When we speak of efficiency, good character is an essential ingredient. No government is in possession of the standard of measurement to find out this quality. If efficiency is really required, persons of good character — persons who can do and who are desirous of doing justice — are to be entertained, even though there may not be much ability in them We did not see any such question of efficiency during the days of the Malayali Memorial sponsored by Nairs. That was their own affair. Indeed time will never come when they become sensible enough to dupe others on the ground of efficiency and we become fools to act accordingly. It is said that Dr. Nokes has submitted a report to Government. When they knew that he report contained some thing beneficial to us they became anxious and got worried. It seems that the aim of the Conference held at Kottayam is to divert the Government who are going to do something for us, from that course and to secure to them for ever the monopoly of officialdom. What was their object in saying that the Nairs fought battles and that they saved all the people here? When did they fight? Whom did they save? What country was saved by them at the sword’s point? All this was stated not to frighten any of us. Sir Habibullah is an old man, over sixty years of age. All these statements are made to frighten him. If the Government think of giving us any Concession oh ye Government, you should not do such things; we are against it, we alone have the efficiency to hold appointments. The statement that they are the people who fought for the country and protected it at the sword’s point would perhaps frighten the Government of Sir Habibullah. What we saw in the Nair Conference held at Trivandrum in the previous year was the maddened shivering caused by the abstention Movement. It is also said that the Conference held Kottayam was a Conference which had the co-operation of Government Officials. It is seen that the Nair Conference as one which was held in the presence of and under the leadership of the Nair officials who collected money for the meeting. If there be any truth in this, the position of Government would become extremely contemptible. The reason why that would become contemptible is this. If any of these officials were Ezhavas or Christians or Muslims, and if it be known that any of them has been to the house of any one who has engaged himself in the agitation for the advancement of his own, community, I know from personal experience that Government would then secretly enquire about and report even to the palace that a conspiracy has been formed and that these officers have taken part in it and that there were some secret deliberations under the leadership of these men and thus try to cause them to incur the displeasure of palace. But in the case of Nair officials they can partake in any communal enterprise, they can enter every where, they can give whatever advice they are pleased to give, and they can contribute munificently for all these. It will never do well for the Government of Sir Habibullah to accept this policy. It is a disgrace to his old age itself. If he wants to see that justice is being carried out in this country he should try to do justice impartially to all the communities, without meeting out justice to one community alone.

The scheme of adult franchise is another subject. We see that adult franchise is being accepted by all the civilised countries. Without this, it is not possible to establish responsible Government anywhere. However civilized a Government be the tendency of the present generation is to agitate for carrying on the administration of the country by means of responsible Government and by providing for adult franchise based upon fundamental rights. Thus being the case, the Nairs who glorify that the culture of Travancore is the culture of Nairs, the Nationalists who pride themselves in having conquered Travancore in the battle field, have declared that adult franchise is not required here. How shameful this is! Are these the people who with Congress flags made gestures to lead on democratic administration in Travancore. These are all tricks to deceive us. Those poor people thought that we were’ puppets who could be kept within the folds of their terrifying attitude. The string for that has been broken now, The members of the monopolising community have begun to feel that they will have no place in this country hereafter, When this was made known to them, people like Mr. Malloor Govinda Pillai have expressed their opinion that adult franchise need not be given at present and that it would be enough if the franchise is lowered a little.

These are days when even our Maha Rajas agitate for rights on the population basis. There are 52 lakhs of people in my country. ‘Therefore they—our Maha Rajas— represent to the Federal Government that two seats would not suffice and that some three or four seats should be given to them in the Federal Legislature, We are also included in this 52 lakhs. Nor is this all. It is further stated by our Maha Rajas that they will not join the Federation, if they are not given representation according to the population basis That is “we also will adopt the policy of abstention” they say. What we say and what our Maha Rajas say are the same. Our argument is most reasonable in the Light of “as is the King so is the subject.”

Will mere population alone be sufficient for appointments in the Public Service and for representation in the Iegislature? This question is being asked by several Nairs. I too say that it will not be sufficient. For what purpose is this Legislature? This is a country wherein the Maha Raja is all in all. He will govern the country in the interests of and for the welfare of all the people. What is the use of having the present Legislature? They merely submit petitions. At the most, they make a recommendation on those petitions. For whom is this petition? It is for those who have grievances. Nair means the Government. The Nair and the Pattar make the Travancore Government. There may be some Chetties also. Our Government is really an assembly of such persons. Their grievances are really the grievances of the Government.

In the circumstances there is no room for any grievances for Nairs, and as such there will be no need for any petition being submitted to the Government. I ask what necessity is there for the Nairs being represented in the Legislature which has a right to recommend to Government for remedying any grievance or complaint. Where is the necessity for Nairs being represented in the Legislature when they say that the Maha Raja is their own. If the population basis alone should not be taken into consideration in the matter of representation means that their share of representation should also be given to those who are really in need of it, then I too concur in that idea.

It is not that, if they say meaning that they want the majority in everything and that they will not allow any opportunity being granted to those who are aggrieved we should never allow such a contention. If we had that position which the Nairs now occupy in the Government of Travancore we would have been certainly ready to grant immediately all that is asked by the poor Nairs. I am not talking bluff We are those who have suffered grievances till now. It will be possible for a community which at any time suffered grievances to ‘distinguish in what form the grievances of other people wilt be. Therefore we would certainly have only found fault with the government for not granting their requests as soon as possible.

Now, a word about the Nair Brigade also. There was no such thing as the Nair Brigade before the time of Parvathi Bai. The Nair Brigade was sanctioned by the then Viceroy in accordance with the request made by Parvathi Bai after peace and order were restored in the country for the formation of an army as an honour and for being used as guards in temples etc. And not that the country was conquered by them. History tells us that it was the soldiers of De Lannoy, the soldiers, from Pandi and the Musalman soldiers who conquered the country that established peace here. The Nair Brigade was constituted as an ornament to the state at a time when there was no need for it, and after the advent of the power of British Government and their cannon. It is nothing but bragging to say that the Nairs fought and saved the country and that they kept the country at their sword’s point. It is a mere lie. What I say is the opinion of the historians. The Nair fought and won! It is hard to believe that Marthanda Varma would recruit men for the army from among the class of people to which the Ettuveettil Pillamars belonged. The fact is that the Nairs fought among themselves. The Nairs of Kayamkulam fought against the Nairs of Quilon. The Nairs of Ambalapuzha fought against the Nairs of Kottaym. They fought and won. But who was defeated? I have heard that Sir C. Sankaran Nair attempted to Write the history of Kerala. He had also studied it. But the information is that he decided not to write a history of Kerala. My information is that he did not attempt to write it fearing that if that history be published, the Nairs and the Ezhavas would have to live in perpetual animosity. It can be inferred from this that the difference between their real history and, their exaggerated history is so great. What the Nairs show is nothing but death bed gestures. What they say is mere challenge. Why should we not be admitted into these armies? We know how to fight better than these men. It is a fact admitted by history. The gun held by the Nair today is nothing but a thing of weight to protect him from being blown away by the wind. What they perform is nothing but a sentry’s duty. Their main work is eating and sleeping. We also know how to stand vigorously and to clean a gun. It is enough that men who are more vigorous and brave than those who are now in the Nair Brigade are recruited from among us. However, the Nair has not fought any battles. They have not done anything for this country.

If I have said anything harsh against the Nairs, I request them, if there any here, that they should specially understand that it was not because of any communal hatred. I have no hatred for any of them’. Yet I am impatient at their standing bail for us in our agitation for the protection of our rights and privileges. Therefore, when I think about it, if my tone becomes little harsh owing to the impact of passionate feelings in me request that I may be excused.

Certain events have, Without our knowledge, pushed our agitation to the front. One of them is the division of certain Christians made recently by the Government into the depressed class. The question why the Government made the depressed division may be left aside. This question reached as far as the Parliament. The Travancore Government became much alarmed. There was some discussion between Lord Halifax and Lord Fits Allen. There was some correspondence between the Government of India and the Government of Travancore about this. The Travancore Government became very much perplexed. As Mr. K.C. Eapen has said no files in the Huzur Office were left unexamined. And a reply has-been sent stating that every thing has been done to the Christians here by the Government of Travancore. What secret deliberations were made in the Garbha Graham or sanctum sanatorium of the Huzur about this: I said “Garbha Graham” advisedly. There is a garbhagraham in the Huzur Office. No Ezhava Christian or Muslim officer is admitted into it. In that garbhagraham there have been going on some secret deliberations and consultations of certain Nair officers in whom Government have confidence and some others. It is not definitely known as to what has become of that conference. However, one thing is certain. Political experts can understand that there is connection between this division and the agitation for our rights, that their influx has put the Travancore Government into great difficulties and that it has helped our agitation very much.

Another thing is the transfer of Tangasseri. The transfer of Tangasseri which is 98 acres in extent to the Travancore Government came up for the consideration of the Government of India But the people of Tangasseri did not consent to it. Lady Atholl who dealt with this in the Parliament said that the Christians of Tangasseri felt much aggrieved at the administration of Travancore, that the Travancore Government would cause much obstruction to their social condition and that Tangasseri should not be transferred to Travancore so as to lead them into darkness with the Christians of Travancore who are day by day steadily going downwards on account of political disabilities This news reached here It was interesting to see the Travancore officers running to Tangasseri with great anxiety and agony. But it is a great thing done to us that Tangasseri with its 20,030 poor people won its cause without our knowledge.

Another matter is the chandala sastra of Mr. Punnasseri Nambi. The Travancore Government got ready a Temple Entry Committee Report on spending some money. One Mr. Nambi was nominated to the Committee as the representative of Tharananaloor Nambooripad who is the Pope of our Hindu religion. I thought Nambi meant Namboothiri. But it is understood now that it is not so. It is stated, however, in that report that Ezhava is Chandalan. Here we have to consider how this helps our agitation. This “Chandala Sastra” has redoubled the aversion which the young men of the Ezhava community had already entertained for the Hindu religion and has excited even the old men of the community Hence it has more or less helped the widening of the gulf between us and Hinduism. It is the commingling of the Nairs that has impeded the progress of the Ezhavas’ claims for their rights. It may be said that Mr. Nambi’s “Chandala Sastra” has served to remove that obstacle. It is consoling to us that this has brought about the complete co-operation and interest of the Ezhava community in this agitation.

We have to consider also as to what should be done next. We have been carrying on an agitation Continuously for about two years and half. It is some days since we represented our grievances to the authorities. It has been stated in the welcome speech delivered by Mr. P.K. Kunju that, if necessary we may again resort to Royalty and represent our grievances. I say, no, no. What we should do next is that which - will awaken them. That should be the subsequent action. The joint committee has a programme for it. They were not doing anything for the last 3 or 4 months. But at the meeting held yesterday an extensive programme has been drawn up. It is a programme which is not very difficult to be carried out. That is, it is to represent an our grievances to the Viceroy. Send a memorial to the Viceroy. Why should we hesitate when we have men like Mr. George Joseph to approach the authorities with this. Some are trying :to spread here an opinion that it is not proper to submit a memorial to the Viceroy. If it is said to place us fix or not is our duty to approach the Viceroy and represent our grievances to him It is duty to adopt that course which if adopted would win our cause on Rs.5/- in safeguarding ’our rights. We were appointed first in the ’Sanchayat Department the forest as the result of sending a memorial to the Viceroy under the leadership of Dr. Palpu and of questions asked in the’ Parliament.. Should we not adopt’ the leadership of the set of people who began to send a memorial to the Viceroy and who were obstinately of the opinion that no Regency administration was necessary’ here? We need not, therefore, now hesitate to represent our grievances to the authorities by constitutional means. For that you must contribute donations as far as possible and also give your signatures. The signed memorial sheets will be printed separately. The remaining space and the other page should be filled with signatures Thus thousands of signatures should be collected. One or two trucks should be filled with the memorials. With these “Memorial trucks” same of the joint political workers should go in the train to Madura and take Mr. George Joseph with them and then go to Simla. I believe that you will render every help necessary for this. In regard to putting signatures certain crafty fellows will frighten you, some officers will threaten you. I believe that you will not be unnerved by any of these things and that you will bravely put in your signatures.

Next I have to speak about the public service. In an interview with him the Dewan has told me that Mr. Noake’s report is being considered by Government and that they are trying to arrive at a decision which would greatly satisfy all the communities, I do not forget the disadvantage at which Sir Habibullah is in his old age. If our estimate of the services, said to have been done by him in British India is correct, he will be able to solve the problem presented here. But, I am forced to think that he has been ‘influenced by some other persons. I am referring to Sir C.P. We do not want that “Jantu” (creature) I did not say “Jantu” but Hindu. ‘He will do no good to the Ezhava, Christian and the Musalman. When I say this I do’ not see any play of protest in the countenance of any one of you. It is after the arrival of this gentleman here that such a bad name about Travancore state has spread outside. Unless this man leaves the country, no good will come to it. We have achieved these things by the joint organisation of our ‘three communities. There may be men who are of opinion ion that what we have achieved is very little. Nevertheless, it is admitted by even these who are opposed to us that, we have achieved something. Therefore it is my opinion that joint organ isolation of these three communities should be Continued whether we get some more seats in the Legislature or nut. I conclude with the prayer that this joint movement may stand as a permanent party in Travancore.