Monday, December 19, 2016

Brief History of C.V Kuppusamy - The Social Reformist

As I have promised in my last postings that I will be writing about the Tamil Social Reformist, C.V Kuppusamy (CVK), this is my second posting on CVK. Very little information is available CVK in English. I managed to get some information on him from two Tamil articles written by blogger Bala Baskaran from Singapore.
C.V Kuppusamy
According to the article, CVK was born in Sentul on April 10th, 1915 to C.Veerapan and M. Pappammal. At the age of five, CVK started his primary education at Tamboosamy Pillai Tamil School in Sentul, but later completing his third standard in Tamil Medium, the parents decided to transfer him to the English medium school in Kuala Lumpur – Maxwell Primary School. in Kuala Lumpur. He continued his secondary education to Victoria Institution (VI) in Kuala Lumpur and completed his Senior Cambridge Examination in 1932 with flying colors as a 1st Grader.

SRJK (T) Thamboosamy, Sentul 
Victoria Institute - Kuala Lumpur 
Maxwell School - know as SMK Maxwell
Kuala Lumpur

Beside English literature, CVK also was keen in mastering Tamil literature and was tutored under the well-known Tamil scholars like “Kalainyayiru Pandithar” M.B Sivaramadasar and Swamy Manonmani. In 1941, CVK continued his love for Tamil language under tutelage of S.S Sinnappan in Singapore. Later, to equip himself with skills in journalism, CVK took up classes to learn Malay and Hindi as well.
Thamboosamy Pillai - Founder of
SRJK (T) Thambosamy Pillai and
Victoria Institute 
Between 1935 to 1941, CVK was employed as a Station Master under Federated Malay State Railways.

CVK’s flair for journalism can be traced as early as 1930 when his articles were published in a Tamil monthly publication in Kuala Lumpur – MalaiNadu. The monthly publication was run by Young Men Indian Association (YMIA) led by M.K Ramachandran. Its editor was A. Chandra Rajan who also ran a few other publications in Singapore and Malaya. At the same period, CVK’s articles too were published on weekly basis in Tamil daily in Tamil Nadu. He had his own column titled “Letter from Malaya” in the daily along with other prominent writer and social reformist like M.P Sivanyanam (aka MaPoSi) and Indian Independence fighter T.S Sokkalingam.

CVK’s articles in English also regularly published in the VI’s monthly publication “The Victorian” during 1931 to 1933. “Munnetram” published in Singapore, “Thesa Nesan” and “Janavarthamani” published in Penang, “Tamilan” published in Ipoh too carried his articles as well.

CVK’s articles on criticizing social illness were too favoured for publication in Periyar's Self-Respect Movement mouthpieces in Tamil Nadu such as Kudiyaarasu, Pagutharivu, Puratchi and Samarasam.

From 1934 to 1942, many of CVK’s works both in English and Tamil were published in Singapore’s - Reform (English). Tamil Murasu (Tamil), Seerthiruttam (Tamil) and Vaaliba Sakti (Tamil).

During the Japanese occupation, like many other enthusiastic Indians in Malaya to see a liberated India, CVK joined Bose led Azad Hind Provisional Government as editor for its Tamil publications – Suthanthira India (Tamil), Yugabharatham (Tamil) and Suthanthirothayam (Tamil). 

CVK also continued to contribute to the provisional government's English publication – Azad Hind and New Light while holding the position as Deputy Director for the Press and Publicity Department under Bose administration.

At the beginning of the war, CVK's association with English educated Indian communist personalities like Saminathan Amalu (for further details please refer to M. Stenson’s Class, Race, and Colonialism in West Malaysia) caused CVK to be arrested and tortured by Japanese Kempetai. He had written his ordeal in his book – “Jappaniya Lakapil Ezhu Thinanggal" (Seven Days in Japanese Lock-up) where he described that he was tortured on daily basis. The torture shall start with canning and end up with waterboarding (described as the “Tokyo Wine”). Many captured communist sympathizer had gone through similar kind of tortures including S.A Ganapathy. (

Upon the return of the British to Malaya, CVK’s movement had been closely monitored by the British administration. But this did not deter CVK's movement in multi racial League Against Imperialism and further agitate Indians for independence of Malaya when he took up the position of Chief Editor of Jananaayagam – a Tamil newspaper sponsored by Malayan Communist Party (CPM). Eventually the Malayan British government clamped down Janaayanagam and detaining CVK under Emergency Regulation in June 1948. CVK was detained for one and half years and was released in December 1949. 

Upon his release, without many resources for his journalism in Malaya, CVK returned to Singapore to work for Tamil Murasu. In 1951, he was appointed as the Assistant Chief Editor of Tamil Murasu and its English publication The Indian Daily Mail. He also became the Singapore correspondence to National Union Plantation Workers weekly newsletter Sangamani.

In 1957, CVK left Singapore to join the newly established Malayan broadcasting and publication department and started to serve the Malayan government. Realizing his huge influence over Tamil educated labourers and proficiency in Malay and English, CVK was appointed as the Chief Editor for Warta Malaya (Malay), Pembena (Malay), Vetri (Tamil), Janobagari (Tamil) and Valarchi (Tamil). He retired from the government in 1971.

In July 1971, post retirement, CVK joined the Tamil Murasu Daily of KL Chapter as Editorial Team and served the newspaper until September 1971.

Apart from journalism, CVK also had written two books – Varungkaala Navayugam (Tamil) – 1937, Periyaar E.V Ramasamy (1939). He had also written a narrative for Tamil drama titled – Kaanthamani.

Throughout his life, CVK remained as a true follower of Periyar and his teachings. Friendship that CVK forged with K.Sarangabani benefited and unified the Dravidian (South Indian) community in Malaya through propagating self-respect ideology in their writings and articles.

CVK played huge part as a central committee member of Self Respect Movement in eradicating caste discrimination among Indians in Singapore.

CVK’s ability to communicate in four languages (Tamil. English, Malay and Hindi) enabled not only the South Indians labourers to appreciate his reformist idea but also the non-Tamil speaking groups too attracted to his reformist thoughts.

His greatest legacy would be remembered for his contribution for Tamil language and journalism in this country as he organized the first conference for Malayan Tamil Writers’ Association in October 1955.


Jananayagam - 5th May 1945 - Ganapathy's Short History

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