E.V. Ramasami, or E.V.R. as he was popularly known, was born on Sept. 17, 1879 at Erode in Tamil Nadu. He left school at the age of ten and joined his father in business when he was twelve.The patriotic fervour of Ramasami lid him to give up his lucrative business and join the Indian National Congress in its struggle for freedom.
He became an ardent fighter and came to ne closely associated with Rajaji. Ramasami courted imprisonment several times during the freedom movement.
The sathyagraha he launched at Vaikom in Kerala against the despicable practice of barring entry of people of certain castes into the streets where people of other castes lived was a success and he earned the title ‘Vaikkom Hero’. He left the Congress in 1925 and carried on a crusade against the caste-system and advocated prohibition. E.V.R. strove for the emancipation of the exploited masses and weaker sections of society.
In 1925 he founded the Self-Respect Movement. a socio-political organisation of which he was the President. He stared a weekly. “Kudiyarasu” (Republic) and later a daily. “Viduthalai” (Freedom) to propagate the principles of his movement. In particular, Ramasami preached inter-caste marriages and re-marriage of widows. It was his firm conviction that orthodoxy, superstition, social discrimination and many other evils which persisted in the society should go. He waged a relentless battle against these till the very end of his life.
In 1938 E.V.R. was elected President of the Justice Party. He started a Movement in the cause of Tamil during this period. At the famous Salem Conference in 1944 be and his lieutenant the late C.N.Annadurai (later Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu) converted the Justice Party into a new organisation called “Dravida Kazhagam”.
An ardent fighter, an avowed revolutionary and a hard-headed rationalist. E.V.R. was simple and humane. He passed away on December 24, 1973 when he was 94.