The following are the resolutions passed at the First Provincial Self-respect Conference held at Chingleput:-
I. This Conference expresses its joy and relief at the partial recovery of His Majesty the King Emperor from his serious illness, and hopes that His Majesty will completely regain his health in the near future.
II. This Conference places on record its sense of profound sorrow at the demise of three of the most distinguished workers on behalf of social and political freedom in this country – the Rajah of Panagal, Mr. S.R. Das and Lala Lajpat Rai-and conveys its heartfelt sympathies to the members of their respective families.
III. (a) In view of the impossibility, as declared in Parliament by the Secretary of State for India, of appointing, on the Statutory Commission on Constitutional Reforms, representatives of the various communities in India, who have mutually conflicting opinions and interests, this Conference is of opinion that the opposition to the Commission on the ground that Indians have not been appointed to it, is unreasonable.
(b) It is further of opinion that there is nothing specially derogatory to national self-respect in tendering evidence before the Commission in as much as the Commission has been appointed by the British Parliament whose legal suzerainty over India is unquestioned and whose defacto authority to govern this country and administer its affairs have been acquiesced in and promoted by the active co-operation of every political party in the country.
(c) This Conference hopes that the recommendations that will be submitted to Parliament by the Commission will be conducive of, and helpful to, the early attainment of the aims and objects of the Self-respect movement.
(d) This Conference, while adhering to the policy of working exclusively on social and religious lines of reform and reconstruction, wishes to place on record its repudiation of the Nehru Committee’s Report, and its conviction that in any constitution that may be framed for the future, the principle of communal representation should be given statutory recognition.
IV. (a) This Conference totally decries the theory of superiority and inferiority attached to birth and repudiates the authority of the Vedas, Sastras, Puranas and other Scriptures which promulgated this false theory.
(b) This Conference condemns the pernicious doctrine of Varnashrama which divides society into Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vysias, Sudras and Panchamas and requests the people not to recognize this division, to give up the adding of suffixes and terminations to names to connote caste or community and to discontinue the wearing, in any part of the body, of marks or other symbols indicative of creed or sect.
(c) In view of the urgency on grounds of humanity and of national advancement for the abolition of the institution of untouchablity so that no human being may be considered as untouchable, unapproachable or unseeable, this conference resolves that no social or civic disabilities be permitted to be attached to any section of the people and that equal rights of access be extended to all citizens to all public roads, tanks, wells, watersheds, temples, choultries etc.
(d) In view of the fact that all attempts at Social Reform and the abolition of distinctions based on birth have so far failed owing to the determined opposition of a section with vested interests in the maintenances of these distinctions, this Conference considers it imperative that legislation should be undertaken to abolish the privilege, and equalise the opportunities for advancement for all people.
(e) Since the present attitude of religious neutrality adopted by the Government forces them to remain indifferent to the unjust sufferings perpetrated on large sections of the people whose social rights are denied and whose progress is impeded, this Conference calls upon the Government to abandon their policy of non intervention in religious affairs, to take an active interest in the struggle of the people towards social emancipation and to co-operate with the reformers in effecting changes in the existing law which perpetuate an outworn and iniquitous social order.
V. (a) This Conference urges upon the Government that all future assignments of darkhast lands should be in favour of those who have no property of their own, and that preference in this respect should be given to members of the community now treated as untouchables; this Conference is further of opinion that the Government should offer liberal and generous grants for the reclamation and utilisation of such lands.
(b) This Conference is of opinion that the Government should make liberal provision for the employment of the untouchables in the public services.
(c) This Conference is of opinion that until the proportion of literacy among the “untouchable classes” rises to the same level as that of the other communities, boys and girls of the “untouchable community” should be provided with food, dress, books, etc., at Government expense while at school.
VI. This Conference resolves:-
(a) That women should be given the same rights to property and inheritance as men.
(b) That women should have equal rights with men to enter into and practice any profession they choose.
(c) That women should be employed in large numbers as teachers, and that their services should be enlisted exclusively in the sphere of primary education.
VII. (a) This Conference is of opinion that not a single pie or a single pie’s worth of material should be used for the purpose of worship in the temple or elsewhere in the name of god; and that no priest or intermediary between the worshipper and the worshipped should be employed.
(b) This Conference is of opinion that no new temples / Vedapatasalas, and choultries ought to be erected hereafter, and the income from and the properties of the existing temples and mutts should be utilized for the promotion of technological studies, and industrial research.
(c) This Conference is of opinion that the celebration of festivals in temples ought to be immediately put a stop to, and in their stead, should be organized exhibitions for the dissemination of knowledge among the people on such subjects as sanitation, public health, etc.
VIII (a) This Conference urges that the age for marriage should be fixed at 16 for women and that infant and child marriages should be prohibited.
(b) This Conference advocates that marriage should be terminable at the will of either party and that no restrictions should be placed on remarriage.
(c) This Conference is of opinion that parties to marriage should be given free right to choose their partners irrespective of caste, creed and race, and that the present laws relating to marriage should be amended accordingly.
(d) This Conference urges that marriages and other ceremonials should be so conducted as to entail the minimum expenditure of time and money; and that marriage ceremonials particularly should not be prolonged beyond a single day and should not involve expenses for more than one feast.
IX (a) This Conference is of opinion that compulsory elementary education for boys and girls of school-going age should be enforced throughout the country.
(b) It is further of opinion that public funds should be spent only for primary education and that, if at all any money is spent for higher and technical education, admission to those institutions should be regulated according to the numerical proportion of the communities in the country.
(c) This Conference is of opinion that public funds should not be utilized for propagating the Vedas, Sanskrit or Hindi in the educational institutions.
(d) This Conference is of opinion that all books tending towards the inculcation of superstitious ideas should be proscribed and that licenses should not be granted for the enactment of any dramas which have a similar tendency.
(e) This Conference is of opinion that facilities should be provided throughout the country for the promotion of physical culture among the youth, and that a course of military training should be made obligatory on the part of every adult citizen in the land.
(f) This Conference requests authors, playwrights, actors, and proprietors of theatres not to adapt or adopt stories and plays which are opposed to reason and rational thinking and discourage self-reliance and self-respect or which have a propagandist tendency in the direction of inculcating false and absurd notions of religion.
X (a) This Conference while condemning all hotels and restaurants which accord differential treatment as between community and community, urges upon the authorities concerned that licenses should not be granted for the running of hotels and restaurants maintaining such invidious distinctions.
(b) This Conference requests the railway authorities to take immediate steps for the abolition of caste, communal and racial distinctions in the hotels and refreshment rooms under their management or control, and appeals to the members of the Advisory Committees attached to the railways especially to see to the removal of all these humiliating discriminations.
XI. This Conference while offering its heartfelt sympathy to the non-Brahmin youths in the sufferings and humiliations they have at present to put up with, in educational institutions on account of their being manned and managed for the most part by teachers belonging to a particular community opposed to their advancement and uplift, urges on the authorities in charge of the Education Department to institute an inquiry into the grievances of the non-Brahmin students with a view to devise ways and means for their removal.
XII. (a) This Conference is of opinion that for furthering the aims and objects of the Self-respect movement, there should be a permanent organization for carrying on the work, with funds and propagandists of its own.
(b) This Conference requests the workers on behalf of the Self-respect movement to support only such candidates in elections to the legislatures, local bodies, etc., as subscribe to the aims and ideals of the movement.
(c) This Conference places on record its appreciation of the great services rendered to the cause of social uplift and freedom by the founder of the Self-respect movement, Mr. E. V. Ramasami and expresses its full confidence in his leadership and guidance of the movement.
XIII (a) This Conference considers that the welfare of the labourers is an indispensable condition for national progress and resolves that attempts should be made to give them a minimum wage, regard being had to the quality of their work and the necessities of their lives and also in addition a fair share in the profits of the industries concerned.
(b) This Conference sympathises with the labourers employed by the South Indian Railway Company in the sufferings they endured as a result of the one-sided and partial attitude that the Government took up during their recent strike.
XIV This Conference is of opinion that all possible encouragement should be given by the State to the Siddha system of medicine by establishing schools for its teaching and by giving scholarships to those who would pursue it.
Source : Revolt, 20th February 1929
(‘Revolt’, the English weekly edited by Periyar E.V.Ramasamy from Madras in 1928-1929)