Dr. M. Emperumal Naidu: A Gandhian independence Fighter

The Naidu Hospital in Kottar (Nagercoil, TN) is a symbol of the forgotten heroes of the independence fight, led by Dr. M. Emperumal Naidu, and their lasting impact on social justice.

Dr. M. Emperumal Naidu (1880-1958): who was he?

  • An Overview of Naidu Hospital: Naidu Hospital in Kottar is a historic hospital with ties to the liberation movement and the fight for social justice.
  • M. Emperumal Naidu, a freedom warrior and Mahatma Gandhi associate, founded the hospital.
  • Contribution to the Vaikom agitation: Following in the footsteps of Periyar E.V. Ramasamy and his wife Nagammal, Naidu actively participated in the Vaikom temple street entry agitation.
  • Defying Adversity: During the movement, Naidu was sprayed with limestone powder and stood in waist-deep rains with Gandhidas Muthusamy.

His Biography and Achievements

  • Family and Education: Naidu’s ancestors were from Andhra Pradesh, and his father was an entertainer in the Travancore court. Naidu attended Scott Christian College in Nagercoil before attending Madras Medical College.
  • Involvement in the liberation Movement: While studying in England, Naidu became actively involved in the liberation movement, declining a medical college offer to pursue a degree in Glasgow, associating himself with Gandhi’s ideas.
  • Contributions to Healthcare: In 1914, Naidu founded a hospital in Kottar, which was one of the first private hospitals to provide modern medical care. He provided free treatment to Dalits and labelled medicines with the abbreviation ‘HF’ (Harijan Free).
  • Leadership and Connections: In Nagercoil, Naidu played an important role in the Indian National Congress, hosting famous figures such as Lala Lajpat Rai, C.F. Andrews, Sarojini Naidu, and Jawaharlal Nehru.
  • Naidu acted as a critical link between Gandhi and Travancore, actively participating in different campaigns and Congress meetings with him.

Temple Entry Movement made a significant impact.

  • Naidu, along with his wife and other volunteers, actively participated in the Vaikom Temple Street Movement, pushing for equal rights while facing arrests and limitations.
  • Continued Activism: Naidu continued to organise rallies and campaigns, including leading a protest in Suchindram to open temple streets to all Kanniyakumari district communities.
  • Naidu’s tireless efforts for temple access and Dalit welfare resulted in the Travancore government releasing a proclamation in 1936 that opened temple doors and streets to all communities.
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