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P. Jeevanandham

(1907 – 1963) – (Tamilnadu)

P. Jeevanandham (Aged 56) also known as Jeeva, was a social reformer, political leader, litterateur, and one of the pioneers of the Communist and socialist movements in Tamil Nadu, India. He was born on 21 August 1907 in Boothapandi, Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu. Jeevanandham was not only a socio-political leader, but also a cultural theoretician, an excellent orator, journalist, and critic, and above all, a relentless fighter for the deprived. He was highly respected by ordinary people for his down-to-earth personality and clean public record.

Jeevanandham began his political journey based on Gandhian principles. In 1924, he participated in the Vaikom Satyagraha, which protested against the discrimination of Dalits by upper-caste Hindus in accessing the road leading to the temple in Vaikom. He also joined a similar protest demanding entry for Dalits into the Suchindram temple.

While at an ashram run by V. V. S. Aiyar in Cheranmadevi, Jeevanandham discovered that Dalits and “upper-caste” students were being fed in separate halls. He supported Periyar’s protest against this practice and left the ashram. Later, he took charge of an ashram funded by a philanthropist in Siruvayal near Karaikkudi, where he had the opportunity to read a lot of books. It was here that he had the chance to meet Gandhi, to whom he had written a letter disagreeing with his methods. When Gandhi came to Madras, he visited the Siruvayal ashram and met Jeevanandham.

After Indian Independence, the ban on the CPI was lifted, and Jeevanandham, along with other leaders, was released. In the first general elections in post-independent India, Jeevanandham won a seat for the Legislative Assembly from the Washermanpet constituency in Madras, while his close associate P. Ramamurthi was elected from the Madurai constituency.

As a member of the Legislative Assembly, Jeevanandham put pressure on the government to initiate action on development schemes and reform measures. He also led many struggles, one of which was against the proposal to form Dakshina Pradesh comprising the four southern states. Despite losing in the subsequent elections, he continued his party work until his death on 18 January 1963, in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.