What are some important contributions from southern India to India’s independence movement?

history : Where-is-South-India-in-the-Indian-independence-struggle-of-the-early-20th-century -4

Answer by Harish Aditham:

I will ignore the tone of your question for now, to give the facts first. South Indian contributions to Indian independence have to a large extent been ignored (as is the case with a lot of "South Indian" achievements in what is the Hindi belt national discourse of our country). Some of the first revolts against British presence came from South India.

This is doubly surprising because unlike North India, large parts of South India were still under the rule of their own Royal Houses and Principalities. They were never under the direct rule of the British! A large chunk of AP was the Nizam's Kingdom, a large chunk of Karnataka under the Mysore Kingdom, Kerala was the Travanacore Kingdom, and a number of principalities like Tanjore, Gingee, Wallajahpet, Arcot, Ramnad etc., ruled over Tamil Nadu.

However, despite being subjected to British direct rule only in a very small way (the Northern Circars and along the coasts), South Indians rose in revolt a number of times. The Vellore Mutiny of 1806 was the first instance of armed revolt by Indian soldiers of the East India company. My city, Visakhapatnam was one of the first to rise in rebellion in 1827. Veerapandiya Kattabomman is a legendary freedom fighter of Telugu origin from Tamil Nadu, Alluri Sita Rama Raju is a hero among the tribes of Northern Circars, Kittur Chennamma of Karnataka predates Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi in fighting the British. Pazhassi Raja of Kerala was probably the only Indian King to whom the British came begging for peace (they didn't even ask Tipu Sultan for that, he was a South Indian too by the way).

Ballads, folk-tales and wildly popular movies have been made on all of them, but the North remains ignorant thanks to a lack of focus on anything South Indian after the Cholas in Indian History texbooks.

Coming down the ages to the 20th century, Captain Lakshmi Sehgal, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (Teacher's Day ya know?), Pattabhi Seetharamayya, Vanchinathan, Rajagopalachari (India's first Governor General), Krishna Menon, V. V. Giri, Tanguturi Prakasam, Nyapati Subba Rao, Tiruppur Kumaran, and a host of others made great contributions to the freedom struggle. Pondur in northern AP is famous to this day for its khadi, which was the preferred khadi of many a national freedom fighter. Durgabai Deshmukh, Sarojini and Padmaja Naidu are few of the women leaders. Annie Beasant worked from Chennai. Pingali Venkayya designed the Indian National Flag. (Others please excuse the slightly Andhra tilt in the list, I am not very aware of the others, please feel free to pitch in). There are detailed wiki entries on all of them, if only you knew how to use the search function on a system.

Also, seeing how most of India's strategic ports are located down South, if the 1946 Royal Indian Navy mutiny which started in Mumbai was not picked up by sailors in Visakhapatnam, Madras, and Kochi in what was the single biggest reason for the departure of the British, we would not have perhaps gained independence so soon.

I find it strange on one hand that you say you do not know about South India's contribution to Indian Freedom, but at the the same time you are quick enough to suspect that South Indians are "free-riding" on the gains of freedom brought by the North Indians. The very essence of the freedom movement is lost upon people like you, who are bent upon dividing India even while admitting you know nothing of history. Please refrain from being so cavalier about freedom fighters. Jai Hind! 🙂               

Extra reading: List of people from Andhra Pradesh (Freedom Fighters)
                     Rebellions before 1857 – The Pearson Indian History Manual for the UPSC Civil Services Preliminary Examination

Addendum: My slightly hostile response would perhaps make more sense if the actual question I was replying to can be seen (purely for context):

"The amount of involvement of the four southern states in Indian Independence struggle seems to be minimal. Was there any significant contribution from them at all to gain freedom? Or they are just free riding on the struggles of the rest of the country? Can someone please educate me?"

What are some important contributions from southern India to India's independence movement?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s