Modern Indian History-Events and Personalities

Dr. M. Emperumal Naidu: A Gandhian Freedom Fighter


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Dr. M. Emperumal Naidu

Mains level: Not Much

Emperumal Naidu

Central Idea: Naidu Hospital in Kottar (Nagercoil, TN), stands as a symbol of the forgotten heroes of the freedom movement, spearheaded by Dr. M. Emperumal Naidu, and their enduring impact on social justice

Who was Dr. M. Emperumal Naidu (1880-1958)?

  • Introduction to Naidu Hospital: Naidu Hospital, located in Kottar is a significant hospital with historical ties to the freedom movement and the fight for social justice.
  • Founder: M. Emperumal Naidu, a freedom fighter and associate of Mahatma Gandhi, established the hospital.
  • Contribution to Vaikom Movement: Naidu actively participated in the Vaikom temple street entry movement, following the footsteps of Periyar E.V. Ramasamy and his wife Nagammal.
  • Enduring the Struggle: Naidu faced adversity during the movement, including being splattered with limestone powder and standing in waist-deep rainwater with Gandhidas Muthusamy.

His Life and Achievements

  • Family and Education: Naidu’s ancestors hailed from Andhra Pradesh, and his father served as an artiste in the court of Travancore. Naidu studied at Scott Christian College in Nagercoil and later attended the Madras Medical College.
  • Involvement in Freedom Movement: Naidu became actively involved in the freedom movement while studying in England and declined a medical college offer to pursue a degree in Glasgow, aligning himself with the ideals of Gandhi.
  • Contributions to Healthcare: In 1914, Naidu established a hospital in Kottar, one of the first private hospitals providing modern medical treatment. He offered free treatment to Dalits and marked prescriptions with ‘HF’ (Harijan Free).
  • Leadership and Connections: Naidu played a crucial role in the Indian National Congress and hosted prominent leaders like Lala Lajpat Rai, C.F. Andrews, Sarojini Naidu, and Jawaharlal Nehru in Nagercoil.
  • Link to Gandhi: Naidu served as a vital link to Gandhi in Travancore and actively participated in various campaigns and Congress meetings alongside him.

Major contribution: Temple Entry Movement

  • Vaikom Temple Street Movement: Naidu, along with his wife and other volunteers, actively participated in the Vaikom temple street movement, advocating for equal rights and facing arrests and restrictions.
  • Continued Activism: Naidu continued organizing protests and campaigns, leading a protest in Suchindram to open temple streets to all communities in the Kanniyakumari district.
  • Achievements: Naidu’s relentless efforts for temple entry and the welfare of Dalits led to the Travancore government issuing a proclamation in 1936, opening temple doors and streets to all communities.

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