Remember Bhagya Reddy Varma (May 22, 1888 – July 2, 1950) the “Father of Dalit Movement in Andhra Pradesh” on his birth anniversary. His original name was Madari Bhagaiah and he was founder of Adi Hindu Movement in Andhra Pradesh. Bhagya Reddy Varma was born in a Dalit, Mala caste family in the princely Hyderabad State to Madari Venkaiah.
Bhagya Reddy Varma founded around 26 schools in around Hyderabad region for Dalits. He established Dalit panchayat courts to settle disputes among dalits. He chaired All India conference of Schedules castes held at Lucknow on 27, 28 December 1930, to support send delegation to Round Table conference. Babasaheb Ambedkar was present in this meeting.
In 1906, he started Jagan Mitra Mandali to educate Dalits through popular folklore. Mandali worked on the social consciousness among untouchables. Later in 1911, he founded Manya Sangham, which tried to create awareness among untouchables through literature and lectures.
Bhagya Reddy Varma had launched a movement against devadasi system, forcing the Nizam to declare it a crime.
C. Iyothee Thass (20 May 1845 – 1914) was a prominent Tamil anti-caste activist and a practitioner of Siddha medicine. He famously converted to Buddhism and called upon the Paraiyars to do the same, arguing that this was their original religion. He also founded the Panchamar Mahajana Sabha in 1891 along with Rettamalai Srinivasan. Panchamas are the ones who do not come under Varna system; they are called as Avarna communities.
“Iyothee Thass” is the most common Anglicized spelling of his name; other spellings include Pandit C. Ayodhya Dasa, C. Iyothee Doss, C. Iyodhi Doss, C. Iyothee Thoss, K. Ayōttitācar (avarkaḷ), K. Ayōttitāsa (paṇṭitaravarkaḷ), or Ayothidas Pandithar.
Shahu (also known as Chhatrapati Rajarshi Shahu, Shahu IV, Rajarshi Shahu Maharaj, Kolhapur’s Shahu) GCSI GCIE GCVO (26 June 1874 – 6 May 1922) of the Bhonsle dynasty of Marathas was a Raja (reign. 1894 – 1900) and the first Maharaja (1900–1922) of the Indian princely state of Kolhapur. He was hypothecated by Maharaja Shivaji IV and Queen Anadibai.
In his time Rajarshi Shahu was considered a democrat and social reformer, and his rule saw the implementation of progressive policies such as an embryonic reservation system for lower caste and non-caste groups and expanding access to education regardless of caste and creed.
Jogendranath Mandal (যোগেন্দ্রনাথ মন্ডল) (29 January 1904 – 5 October 1968), was one of the founding fathers of modern state of Pakistan, and legislator serving as country’s first minister of law and labour, and also was second minister of Commonwealth and Kashmir affairs. In the cabinet of Interim Government of India, He got the law portfolio before.
As a leader of the Scheduled Castes (Dalits), Jogendranath Mandal campaigned against the division of Bengal in 1947, believing that the divided Bengal would mean that Dalits would be at the mercy of the Muslim majority in East Bengal (Pakistan), and at the thraldom of majority caste-Hindus in West Bengal (India). In the end, he decided to maintain his base in East Pakistan, hoping that the Dalits would be benefited from it and joined the first cabinet in Pakistan as the Minister of Law and Labour. He migrated to India a few years after partition after submitting his resignation to Liaquat Ali Khan, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, citing the anti-Dalits bias of Pakistani administration.
Mangu Ram (14 January 1886 – 22 April 1980), known popularly as Babu Mangu Ram Chaudhry, was an Indian freedom fighter, a politician from Punjab and one of the founder members of the Ghadar Party.
In 1909, he immigrated to the United States and there became associated with the Ghadar Party. Upon his return to India in 1925, he became a leader of the low-caste people, organising them in opposition to the system of untouchability that oppressed them. He was instrumental in the foundation of the Ad-Dharmi Movement, an organisation dedicated to attaining equality for Untouchables. He was elected to the Punjab Legislative Assembly in 1946 and in 1972 received recognition in the form of a pension and an award from Indira Gandhi for his work towards Indian independence.
Erode Venkatappa Ramasamy (17 September 1879 – 24 December 1973), revered as Periyar or Thanthai Periyar, was an Indian social activist and politician who started the Self-Respect Movement and Dravidar Kazhagam. He is known as the ‘Father of the Dravidian movement’. He rebelled against Brahminical dominance and gender and caste inequality in Tamil Nadu. Since 2021, the Indian state of Tamil Nadu celebrates his birth anniversary as ‘Social Justice Day’.
Ramasamy joined the Indian National Congress in 1919, but resigned in 1925 when he felt that the party was only serving the interests of Brahmins. He questioned the subjugation of non-Brahmin Dravidians as Brahmins enjoyed gifts and donations from non-Brahmins but opposed and discriminated against non-Brahmins in cultural and religious matters. In 1924, Ramasamy participated in non-violent agitation (satyagraha) in Vaikom, Travancore. From 1929 to 1932 Ramasamy made a tour of British Malaya, Europe, and Soviet Union which influenced him. In 1939, Ramasamy became the head of the Justice Party, and in 1944, he changed its name to Dravidar Kazhagam. The party later split with one group led by C. N. Annadurai forming the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) in 1949. While continuing the Self-Respect Movement, he advocated for an independent Dravida Nadu (land of the Dravidians).
Ramasamy promoted the principles of rationalism, self-respect, women’s rights and eradication of caste. He opposed the exploitation and marginalisation of the non-Brahmin Dravidian people of South India and the imposition of what he considered Indo-Aryan India.