TNPSC: Questions on Periyar, social justice draw praise

TNPSC Group-1 questions on Periyar and social justice draw praise from people

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“Which ideology threatens Indian unity?”, “What led Thanthai Periyar to agitate for Communal reservation”, and “In which of the district conferences, the Justice Party was converted into Dravidar Kazhagam?”.

These are some of the questions part of the Group-I exams conducted by Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC) on Sunday that have evoked commendation from several quarters. Social media was full of references to the question paper of the exams conducted for the posts of Deputy Collector, DSP, and Assistant Commissioner among others and praise for those who set the “brilliant” paper for appearing candidates.

In all, there were 10 questions about E V R Periyar, the legendary social reformer, and his Self-Respect Movement, while a critically-acclaimed film 'Periyerum Perumal' that exposes casteist sentiments that are still prevalent, and Sahitya Akademi award winning book 'Velpari' also found mention among 200 questions that were asked.

Another question that evoked much interest and received praise was “Which ideology threatens Indian unity?”. The answer options were “Communalism, Communism, Democracy, Socialism, and answer not known.”

The question paper that talks about Periyar, Self-Respect Movement, late Chief Minister Kamaraj, and other social issues of Tamil Nadu come at a time the AIADMK government is battling allegations of “surrendering” before the BJP not worried about “social justice” which is a permanent issue in Tamil polity.

The references to Periyar as Thanthai Periyar, as he is called popularly, is also significant because the social reformer's name was mentioned along with his caste in a question paper of the TNPSC in 2018. The move had evoked protests from all political parties which said boxing Periyar into one caste would be one of the greatest injustices to his service.

“I was pleasantly surprised with the questions that were part of the paper. It was a pleasure answering them as they were directly related to Tamil culture and icons,” a TNPSC aspirant told DH.

Mari Selvaraj, director of Pariyerum Perumal, said the goal of the purpose was achieved. “The movie was a reflection of the society. Thanks to everyone,” he wrote on Twitter.

However, Prince Gajendrababu, education activist and general secretary of State Platform for Common School System (SPCSS –Tamil Nadu), said there was nothing surprising that a state government question paper reflects the culture.

“When education and language is part of the state's culture, there is nothing extraordinary in question papers set by the state reflecting them. It has to be like that. Periyar is an integral part of Tamil Nadu's history and he should have his rightful place,” he told DH.