Periyar Movement is unique in its ideological basics backed with strong strategical approach for its functional adoption. Periyar EV Ramasami (1879-1973), a self-thinker- rationalist oriented himself in public life towards the humanistic strategies adopted by South Indian Liberal Federation (SILF), started in the year 1916. Periyar, though supportive of the strategies of SILF, he started on his own, Self-Respect Movement in the year 1925. Self-Respect is the unique attribute of human beings. It has to be protected and patronized for the well being, progress and prosperity of mankind. SILF, later identified as Justice Party came under the leadership Periyar EVR in the year 1939. The organisation was reformed and subsequently re-named as Dravidar Kazhagam (DK) in 1944. From then onwards DK remains as a pioneering social reform movement and continues as the parental organisation for many political offshoots of Dravidian Movement and for the leaders of other political parties and organisations. Many of them stake claim for their identification on the ideals of Periyar. Both in the treasury and in opposition of State Governance of Tamil Nadu, the leaders of political parties feel proud and claim heritage towards their orientation with Periyar Movement. Dravidar Kazhagam is a social reform movement which does not participate directly in the election process but carry out consistent and constant propaganda for the practice of rationalist, humanist ideals of Thanthai Periyar, meaning ‘noble father’. Whichever political party supports the Rationalists ideals and prescribes them as their political agenda will get the support of Dravidar Kazhagam and its cadres. Numerically the membership of Dravidar Kazhagam is not enormous in comparison with political parties but the strength it has got to decide on who has to rule the State is well aware of by all the political parties. In the State Governance, Dravidar Kazhagam has got objective interest but not subjective participation. It continues to remain as a Mass Movement by its sustained propaganda activities to enlighten the literate as well as the illiterate masses.
The “revolution” which Periyar brought about was a bloodless one and he had to spend more than fifty years of his life opening the eyes of People to their want of education-and consequent backwardness, their faith in superstitions, the deception and exploitation to which they are subjected by cunning people and also on the need for them to develop self-respect and self-confidence. It is interesting to note the Term ‘self-respect’ as used by Periyar includes the three concepts liberty, equality and fraternity which Voltaire and other French revolutionists exhorted their countrymen to acquire. Periyar repeatedly and feelingly spoke about Women’s liberation.