Book Note from Introduction:
Veerapandiya Kattabomman and the early challenges to
"Despite the size, wealth, historical contribution and contemporary importance of
Tamil Nadu, its colonial history remains relatively unexplored. There are few substantial
works on Tamil Nadu's social, economic and political history in the British period. While
some pioneering studies of Tamil Nadu have been contributed by scholars from abroad, few
researchers have chosen to tread the path of the history of nationalist politics;
consequently, large tracts of nationalist history in Tamil Nadu are yet to be written.....
Our understanding of the evolution of nationalism in Tamil Nadu has been further
complicated by the emergence there of social and political movements, at times
overlapping, which questioned aspects of nationalist politics and goals. With the
emergence of the Justice Party in the second decade of the twentieth century, polemics
would enter the discussion of Tamil Nadu's nationalist traditions, and perhaps serve to
obscure the past.
Whatever the reasons, historians have generally bypassed the history of the nationalist
movement in Tamil Nadu during the crucial years 1905-1914. Yet it was this period which
saw the emergence of such major political figures as G. Subramania Iyer,
Pillai and Subramania Bharati. (Even today, Bharati continues to be a favourite for his
captivating nationalistic writings and social radicalism.)...
...A basic premise of this study is that the nationalist movement in Tamil Nadu, a
movement of richness and historical depth, merits as close attention as have nationalist
movements in other parts of India. Its starting point is the late eighteenth century.
Chapter 1 traces early manifestations of anti-colonial feeling in Tamil Nadu:
rebellions led by the poligars of Tirunelveli and Shivagana, and the sepoy revolt at
Vellore in 1806. The factors behind the uprisings are analysed and their fallout
discussed. Attention then turns to the nineteenth century social reform movement, which in
Tamil Nadu, as elsewhere in India, preceded the establishment of provincial political
associations. As will be seen, issues of social reform would generate tensions and
divisions within the political associations as they took shape in the last decades of the