Birthday: September 15, 1909
Died At Age: 59
Sun Sign: Virgo
Also Known As: Conjeevaram Natarajan Annadurai
Born Country: India
Born in: Kanchipuram
Famous as: First Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
Spouse/Ex-: Rani Annadurai (m. 1930)
father: Natarajan Mudhaliyar
mother: Bangaru Ammal
siblings: C.N.A. Parimalam, Gouthaman, Ilangovan
children: C.N.A. Parimalam, Gouthaman, Ilangovan
Died on: February 3, 1969
place of death: Tamil Nadu
Cause of Death: Cancer
Founder/Co-Founder: All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam
education: University of Madras
awards: Chubb Fellowship (1968)
Honorary Doctorate (1968)
C. N. Annadurai, lovingly referred to as “Anna,” was an Indian politician, who served as the 1st chief minister of the state of Tamil Nadu. He was the chief minister of Tamil Nadu for just 20 days in 1969. He served as the fifth and the final chief minister of the state of Madras before its name was changed to Tamil Nadu. The founder of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), he was known for his eloquent writing and oratorical skills. He was also a good actor and had acted in several plays. Born in a middle-class family to a weaver and temple servant, Annadurai was raised by his sister. At the age of 21, he got married while still a student. After dropping out of high school, he worked as a clerk to make ends meet. In 1934, Annadurai graduated from Chennai’s Pachaiyappa's College. Later, he earned a post-graduate degree in economics and politics. From working as a teacher and then a journalist, he took time to move into the political scene. In 1935, Annadurai finally made his entry into politics by joining the Justice Party. During his career, his party protested several times against famous leaders, including Jawaharlal Lal Nehru. He died of cancer in 1969.
Childhood & Early Life
C. N. Annadurai was born on 15 September 1909, in Kancheepuram, Madras Presidency, British India. His father, Natarajan, worked a weaver, while his mother, Bangaru Ammal, was a temple servant.
Annadurai was raised by his sister Rajamani Ammal. He studied at Pachaiyappa's High School. However, he dropped out to work as a clerk in a local municipal office.
Following his graduation from Pachaiyappa's College in 1934, he earned his MA degree in economics and politics from the same college. Annadurai then served as a teacher in Pachaiyappa High School. Later, he became a journalist.
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Initial Political Career
In 1935, Annadurai joined the Justice Party where he served as the sub-editor of the party’s magazine under the presidency of Periyar E. V. Ramasami.
He later became the editor for ‘Viduthalai’ and also wrote for the Tamil newspaper, ‘Kudi Arasu.’ Eventually, he launched his own journal under the name ‘Dravida Nadu.’
In 1944, Justice Party was renamed as Dravidar Kazhagam by Periyar. On 17 September 1949, Annadurai formed his own party named Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK). Its formation took place as a result of differences between him and Periyar.
In 1928, the Congress government of Madras Presidency proposed a move to make Hindi language a compulsory language in schools. On 27 February 1938, Annadurai opposed this move by holding his first “anti-Hindi” imposition conference in Kanchipuram.
In 1940, the government of Madras Presidency cancelled the move due to the overwhelming response from the opposition. In 1950, when India became a republic, the constitution gave special status to the Hindi language which was about to become official in 1965.
In 1960, Annadurai’s party DMK held an open-air conference against the language imposition at Kodambakkam, Chennai. The party gave black flags to representatives to be shown to the president of India.
The party, however, stopped showing flags after Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru assured that Hindi won’t be made the official language of India.
As no constitutional amendments were made regarding anti-Hindi imposition, Annadurai declared 26 January 1965 as a day of mourning. Later, he told his party to forfeit the protests on seeing increased violence.
The party continued with the violence which led to Annadurai’s arrest. The resulting agitation aided DMK to win the elections in 1967. As the party’s leader, Annadurai eventually became the chief minister of Madras State.
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Protests against Political Figures in 1953
In 1953, Annadurai’s party undertook three protests. The first one condemned the then Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru for calling their activity of tarring of Hindi language letters on railway station boards as "childish nonsense".
The second one was against the then Chief Minister of Madras State C. Rajagopalachari for indirectly encouraging traditional caste-based occupations.
The third protest was against renaming the township Kallakkudi as Dalmiyapuram as the name Dalmiyapuram represented north Indian domination. Annadurai was eventually sent to jail where he spent three months for this protest.
During his days in Dravida Kazhagam, both Annadurai and Periyar wanted an independent Dravida Nadu, a separate state for Dravidian speakers in south India. E. V. K. Sampath, a member of DMK didn’t support this call and eventually left the party.
After 1962, the reorganization of the Indian states removed Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada-speaking regions from the Madras Presidency, leaving only the Tamil Madras State. Annadurai now called for an independent Tamil Nadu for Tamils.
After the passing of the Sixteenth Amendment, also known as the Anti-Secessionist Amendment, Annadurai and his party claimed more autonomy for Tamil Nadu. From then on, they aimed at attaining better co-operation between the southern Indian states.
As Chief Minister
In 1967, Anna became the chief minister of Madras State. During his tenure, he legalized “self-respect marriages,” a type of marriage that could take place in the absence of priests.
It was his government that retitled the Madras State to Tamil Nadu. Also in 1967, he organized the World Tamil Conference.
C. N. Annadurai also introduced a two-language policy and implemented it over the three-language policy that was followed by the neighboring states where the students were to learn three languages – Hindi, English, and the regional language.
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He eliminated the use of pictures of gods in public buildings and offices. He became the first non-American to receive the Chubb Fellowship at Yale University.
On 3 January 1968, the Second World Conference was conducted during his tenure.
Family & Personal Life
At the age of 21, C. N. Annadurai married Rani. As they had no children, they adopted and raised Annadurai’s sister Rajamani's grandchildren.
Death & Legacy
Annadurai travelled to New York in September 1968 for his cancer treatment. He eventually died from the disease on 3 February 1969.
His funeral was attended by about 15 million people. The figure is registered in ‘The Guinness Book of Records’ for the highest number of attendees until then.
His remains were buried at the northern end of Marina Beach, currently called Anna Memorial.
Today, many infrastructures are named after him, including Anna Nagar in Chennai and Anna University.
DMK's head office, which was constructed in 1987, is named Anna Arivalayam to honor him.
Jawaharlal Nehru considered him as one of the greatest parliament speakers in Rajya Sabha.
On 1 October 2002, Annadurai’s life-size statue was unveiled in the Parliament House by A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.