In reaction to the incipient nationalist movement, represented by the nineteenth century Hindu revivalism, which led to improving the position of the Brahmin caste, the non- Brahmins of Madras Presidency sought to ally with the colonial regime, hoping that foreign rule would protect their position and somewhat neutralize power differences within the population. Mindful of the importance of literacy as the base of the Brahmins’ virtual monopoly of government offices, the non-Brahmin elite sought to advance their communities through education.
Dr T.M. Nair, P. Thyagaraja Chetty, and C.N. Mudaliar came together and founded the Justice Party in 1916. It was resolved to form an association of non-Brahman Hindus under the name of South Indian Peoples’ Association. Chetty asked all non-Brahmins to unite and draw the attention of the government to the grievances voiced in the Manifesto.
He said, “Let all non-Brahmins do everything needful to ensure a continued educational, social, political, and economic development as broad and enduring basic; and, then, their future as British subjects will be brighter and more prosperous than it is today.”
With the proclamation of the non-Brahmin Manifesto, it was argued that an association for the political advancement of the non-Brahmin community should also be formed to function alongside the South Indian Peoples’ Association. In August 1917, the South Indian Liberal Federation came into existence.
It was announced that the Justice Party’s objective was justice for all Dravidians through the establishment of a separate state under the watchful guidance of the British rule. His idealism, however, was influenced by the immediate practicalities of securing required reforms for the betterment of the non-Brahmin community.