Tamilnadu’s politics and culture befuddle outside observers. Ruled for half a century by two regional parties – DMK and AIADMK – its politics has been marked by language pride, non-Brahmin movement, caste-based reservation, regionalism, welfare populism, and cinema. Despite the negative coverage it tends to get from outside, Tamilnadu is a developed state scoring high
on all human development indicators.
In Tamil Characters, noted historian A. R. Venkatachalapathy provides a ringside view of contemporary Tamilnadu beginning with an assessment of political figures such as Periyar and Anna, Karunanidhi and Jayalalithaa, and significant poets, writers and thinkers including Subramania Bharati and Iyotheethos Pandithar. The final section discusses contentious issues such as language politics, prohibition, jallikattu and Dalit rights.