Krishnasamy Veeramani: Continuing the Fight for Humanism

Ryan Shaffer

Krishnasamy Veeramani is a lawyer turned social activist who fights for humanism in South India. He currently leads the Dravidar Kazhagam (Dravidian Organization), which promotes freedom and challenges superstition as well as caste and gender inequality. He continues in the tradition of its former head, Periyar (1879–1973). Periyar’s ideas and organization have shaped contemporary Tamil Nadu, a state of nearly seventy-three million people in South India, to the point where the two parties that have ruled the state since 1967 both cite Periyar as their social and political inspiration. After he died in 1973, Periyar’s wife led the organization and upon her death Veeramani became its leader.

Currently, Veeramani is the chancellor of Periyar Maniammai University and leader of a movement that operates nearly fifty institutions, including several schools, colleges, rural empowerment centers, and six hospitals. He is the author or editor of several books, including The Necessity of Scientific Temper, in which he argues the “future depends on upholding scientific temper." Born in 1933, he became active in the organization at the age of ten. He later became editor in chief of Dravidar Kazhagam’s daily Tamil rationalist newspaper, which has been published for eighty years. He continues to serve as editor of that publication as well as a youth periodical and a monthly English magazine titled the Modern Rationalist. Neither his age (he is over eighty) nor the violent, physical attacks of his opponents have slowed his efforts.

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