Social Scientist. v 16, no. 183 (Aug 1988) p. 3.

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Changing Perceptions and Radicalisation of the National Movement in Andhra^ 1922-34

The period between the Non-Cooperation Movement and Salt Satyagraha witnessed a marked change in social and political perceptions which, in turn, influenced the national movement in Andhra. In this paper we attempt to analyse how far the shaping of the new perceptions influenced the national consciousness. A striking feature of this period was the spread of new social and political ideas rooted in the communist ideology. No sphere of life was left untouched by these new ideas. At one level we see the spread of new ideas regarding man-woman relationship, problems of women, peasantry and untouchables. At another level different ideological positions in relation to the national liberation struggle were discussed and propagated. Two contradictory visions of the future transformation of society—one rooted in the bourgeois ideology and the other in the left ideology—started competing for both ideological and political hegemony over the national movement.

By the second decade of the twenteth century, it was generally assumed that the social reform movements in Andhra, initiated by Kandukuri Veeresalingam and his fellow reformers, had come to an end.1 This assumption is, however, only partially true, for social reform in Andhra acquired a wider dimension and new orientation from the 1920s. Much broader and crucial socio-cultural questions were debated and discussed in a bid to create a new atmosphere conducive to bourgeois social development.

As part of social reform one of the major social questions addressed by the nationalist intellectuals was the problem of untouchability which generated significant conflict in agrarian society. To start with, the old myths and popular perceptions—the ideological basis of untouchability—had to be changed. Simultaneously, new perceptions had to be popularised. But the type of perceptions propagated during this period, especially by the Gandhian nationalists, were such that they had a dual character. This duality was in fact apparent in the Gandhian 'consensus* model of reform. The aim of Gandhi in taking up

* School of Correspondence Courses and Continuing Education, Delhi University.

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