Communism Singara Velar (1860-1946)
The emergence of Swadeshi and Home rule movement in India in the initial part of 20th century aroused the thirst for freedom. Reforms were made in Hindu religion in accordance with the existing society. These movements played a key role in creating the feeling of Indiannes and Nationalism in the political Scenario.
But these movements are religious in nature. Moreover, those who participated in these movements are from upper social class. Freedom sought by these people are political in nature neglecting the interests and economic upliftment of farmers and labourers. This affected the majority Indians who are poor and belong to farmers community. Further, caste discrimination existed within Congress Party. Particularly, in Tamilnadu there existed a clear difference between brahmins and non-brahmins.
In this context, Singaravelar played a pivotal role in spreading rational ideas and scientific perception in to politics. He also played a key role in connecting welfare of farmers and workers in to freedom struggle and spreading socialist thinking in to politics.
The British empire which exported the raw materials in the initial stages started industries later in India as the demand increased. This worsened common people’s life standards. They are ready to work even for meagre wages. Hence, those who are employed were treated as slaves. Even a minor protests by the employees were suppressed with iron hands. More labour organizations emerged to protect the rights of working class. These organizations were headed by Thiru.V.Kalyanasundaranar and D.Varadharajalu in the Madras presidency. It was Singaravelar who took major efforts in the emergence of labour organizations in Madras presidency.
Singaravelar wanted to sensitize the workers on politics and wanted to engage them in the freedom struggle. But Congress Party did not accept this idea of Singaravelar. Singaravelar critised it vehemently and send telegraphs to Congress high command, following this, he wrote a letter to Mahatma Gandhi. Further, he also wrote about this issue on the popular dailies Swadesamitran, The Hindu, and magazines like Navasakthi. He also propagated this among congress workers. In this juncture, he participated in the Congress Committee (1922) meeting as a representative of Tamilnadu, there also he explained the following demands and sought support from Congress members.
· Indian freedom includes economic freedom of workers and farmers.
· The welfare of farmers and labourers should also be the motto of Congress party.
· Farmers and labourers must be included in the Indian national movement.
· Congress leaders should help to raise masses from different organization.
In consequent with this, in 1922, Indian National Congress, passed a resolution to raise people from various organizations. A six member committee was constituted, in which M. Singaravelar was appointed as a member. In addition to this, he also fought for the protection of labour rights. He emphasized this demand by writing in all popular dailies. As an outcome, labour protective law was passed in 1926, in India. Moreover, he advised for speaking in vernacular languages. Only then, he believed that the ideas will reach all the people. So, that leaders and people can maintain good relations. He is also determined to speak in Tamil, when speaking about the issues of Tamilnadu people.
In 1918, a resolution regarding this was passed during Chennai Presidency Association Conference. Singaravelar and Periyar were the dignitaries in this conference.
When Periyar resigned from Congress Party citing the existence of Brahmin and Non-Brahmin divide and discrimination in the party, Singaravelar supported the action of Periyar. After visiting USSR, Periyar was influenced by the Communist ideals. He changed the name of self-respect movement to Self-Respect Social Justice Party. Singaravelar made his contribution in framing the policies and principles of the movement. He also wrote extensively in Periyar’s Republic magazine against superstitious beliefs. These writings were simple and can be understood easily.
Singaravelar has a deep faith in the philosophy of Communisim. He urged the Congress party to support labour organizations. In the name of Madras Socialists, he telegraphed Congress High Command. In all the Congress Committee meetings he argued as a Communist representative.
In1923, it was he, who organized the first May Day celebrations in Chennai. In the same day, he announced the formation of labour-farmer political party. The demands of his new political party are
· Eight hours work
· Right to form union
· Right to strike as a last resort to pressure labour demands.
· Three level committees for reviewing the demands.
· Minimum wages
· Shelter with basic amenities
· Medical and life Insurance
· Provident fund facility
· Earned leave
· Free Medical assistance
· Maternity leave
· Put an end to contract basis
· Free water for agriculture
· Abolition of Zamindari system
· Voting rights for all
· Right to contest in elections for poor, labour and farmer communities.
First socialist conference was headed by Singaravelar in 1925, in Kanpur. He spoke about socialism without violence. Also, he resolved for adopting Communism according to Indian circumstances. A socialist should play a role by being in the member of Congress Party, he advised. Eventually, Socialist block was formed inside the Congress Party.
Since his childhood Singaravelar did not believe in the Varna System and superstitious belief. As a result of this, he established Buddhist Association and propagated against Varna System and superstitious beliefs during 1880 itself.
Born in a rich family and well versed with law, he served as a member in Chennai Municipality and also in health sector. Due to the endemic diseases in the down-trodden areas, he gave priority to health and education. He also fought for rights of labourers. Based on this, he played active role in Congress Party. Later, he joined in Periyar’s Self – Respect movement.
Though he entered into politics after he crossed the age of 50, he actively propagated and wrote about communist ideas for more than thirty years. He was fondly remembered and called as the first communist of south India.