Diwan Bahadur R. Srinivasan (1860–1945), also known as Rettamalai Srinivasan (இரட்டைமலை சீனிவாசன்) was a Dalit activist, politician and freedom fighter from the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. He is a Dalit icon and Mahatma Gandhi’s close associate, remembered today as one of the pioneers of the Dalit movement in India.
Rettamalai Srinivasan was born in 1860 in a poor Dalit (Paraiyar) family in Madras Presidency. He was a brother-in-law of the famous Dalit activist Iyothee Thass. He worked as a translator in a South African court when Gandhi was practicing there as an advocate; he was instrumental in the father of the nation putting his signature in Tamil as ‘Mo.Ka. Gandhi’ (Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi in Tamil).
Srinivasan established and led the Paraiyar Mahajana Sabha in 1891 which later became the Adi-Dravida Mahajana Sabha. He founded a Tamil newspaper called Paraiyan in October 1893 which started selling as a monthly with four pages for the price of four annas. However, Paraiyan experienced great difficulties in its early days.
Srinivasan was a participant in the freedom movement and an arrest warrant was issued against him claiming that he was fleeing the nation. In 1896, a case was filed against the newspaper and Srinivasan was dragged to the court citing a letter to the editor. The editor Srinivasan was fined Rs. 100 for his writings.