Ayyankali (28 August 1863 – 18 June 1941) was an Indian politician, prominent social reformer, educator, economist, lawmaker, and a revolutionary leader. He worked for the advancement of the oppressed people in the princely state of Travancore. His struggle resulted in many changes that improved the socio-political structure of Kerala. His determined and relentless efforts changed the lives of Dalits.[2]

Ayyankali was born on 28 August 1863 in Venganoor, Thiruvananthapuram, Travancore. He was the first of eight children born to Ayyan and Mala, who were members of the Pulayar community. The family led a marginally better life compared to other Pulayars as they were given 5 acres (2.0 ha) of land by the landlord with whom Ayyan was an Adiyalan spending all his time to serve the Janmi or Zamindar (feudal landlord). Members of the Pulayar community generally worked as bonded labor to the Janmis during this time and did not have the right to own land or even enter temples to pray.

The region in which Ayyankali lived, which now forms a part of the state of Kerala, was particularly affected by social divisions during his lifetime and was described as a “mad house” of castes. The Pulayars were regarded as the slaves of the agrarian society in the kingdom and they suffered greatly from oppressive discrimination, particularly from the landowning castes including the Nair caste. Robin Jeffrey, a professor specializing in the modern history and politics of India, quotes the wife of a Christian missionary, who wrote in 1860 of the complex social code that:

… a Nair can approach but not touch a Namboodiri Brahmin: Ezhava must remain thirty-six paces off, and a Pulayan ninety-six steps distant. A Ezhava must remain twelve steps away from a Nair, and a Pulayan sixty-six steps off, and a Parayan some distance farther still. A Syrian Christian may touch a Nair (though this is not allowed in some parts of the country) but the latter may not eat with each other. Parayars, who are at the apartheid position of a savage caste discriminated society, can approach but not touch, much less may they eat with each other.

Suffering from this social injustice caused Ayyankali to join his Pulayar friends who gathered at the end of their workday to sing and dance to folk music that protested the situation.

Some joined him in forming a group that challenged the members of the oppressor castes sometimes leading to physical fights. His popularity earned him the names of Urpillai and Moothapullai translated roughly as ‘Leader of the Land’ or ‘Elder Leader’.

Ayyankali married Chellamma in 1888. The couple had seven children.

Taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayyankali

Anand Teltumbde


Anand Teltumbde (born 15 July 1950) is an Indian scholar, writer, and civil rights activist who is a management professor at the Goa Institute of Management. He has written extensively about the caste system in India and has advocated for the rights of Dalits. He was imprisoned in 2020 along with other activists and intellectuals who were critical of the government.

Teltumbde was born on 15 July 1950 in Rajur, a village in the Yavatmal district of Maharashtra state, to a family of Dalit farm labourers. He is the oldest among eight siblings. He is married to Rama Teltumbde who is a granddaughter of B. R. Ambedkar. He earned a mechanical engineering degree from Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology in 1973, an MBA from the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad in 1982 and a PhD from the University of Mumbai in cybernetic modelling in 1993 while working as an executive at Bharat Petroleum. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate (D.Litt.) from the Karnataka State Open University.

Teltumbde was an executive at Bharat Petroleum and managing director of Petronet India Limited before becoming an academic. He was a professor at the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur and later became a senior professor at the Goa Institute of Management. He contributes a column titled “Margin Speak” to Economic and Political Weekly, and has also contributed to Outlook, Tehelka, and Seminar. His 2018 book, Republic of Caste, is a collection of essays that assesses the position of Dalits, including the relationship between caste and class. Teltumbde advocates for a closer relationship between Marxism and the Ambedkarite movements in fighting for Dalit liberation, as well as reform of the reservation system.

Selected publications

  • The Radical in Ambedkar (ed.) (Penguin Random House, New Delhi, 2018) ISBN 978-0670091157
  • Republic of Caste: Thinking of Equality in the Era of Neoliberalism and Hindutva (Navayana, New Delhi, 2018) ISBN 978-8189059842
  • Dalits: Past, Present and Future (Routledge, London and New York, 2016) ISBN 978-1138688759
  • Mahad: The Making of the First Dalit Revolt (Aakar, New Delhi, 2015) ISBN 978-9350023983
  • The Persistence of Caste (Zed Books, London, 2010) ISBN 9781848134492
  • Khairlanji: A Strange and Bitter Crop (Navayana, Delhi, 2008) ISBN 978-8189059156
  • Annihilation of Caste (Ramai, Mumbai, 2005) ISBN 978-9353040772
  • Hindutva and Dalits: Perspectives for Understanding Communal Praxis (ed.) (Samya, Kolkata, 2005) ISBN 978-8185604756
  • Ambedkar’ in and for the Post-Ambedkar Dalit Movement (Sugawa, Pune, 1997) ISBN 978-8186182291

Taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anand_Teltumbde

P. K. Rosy


P. K. Rosy (Rajamma, Rosamma, Rajammal) was an Indian actress in Malayalam cinema. Her Pulaya (Dalit) caste background caused controversy. She was the heroine of Vigathakumaran (The Lost Child), directed by J. C. Daniel. She was the first heroine in Malayalam cinema and the first Dalit actress in Indian cinema.

Early life

She was born to Paulose and Kunji, as Rajamma, in 1903 at Nandankode, Trivandrum to a Pulaya family. Her living relatives confirm that her father died when she was very young leaving her family steeped in poverty. Her younger years were spent as a grass-cutter. She was also very interested in the arts and was encouraged in this by her uncle, who found for her a teacher for music and acting. She also regularly went to the local school of performing arts to study Kakkirasi Nattakam, a form of Tamil folk theatre in a mix of Tamil and Malayalam revolving around stories of Siva and Parvati arriving on Earth as nomads.

During those days, acting was typically not a woman’s work and women who considered acting as a serious profession were labeled licentious or “loose”. Rosy’s love for acting seems to have surpassed concerns she may have held for what society would call her.

Of the origin of her name “Rosy,” many claim her family converted to Christianity and changed her name from Rajamma to Rosamma. However others claim it was Daniel who gave her a more ‘glamorous’ name. Members of her family dispute the claim she converted one nephew saying “To send Rosy to study, he converted to Christianity at the LMS Church. That was the basis on which children were given education in those days. No one else had converted. Her mother lived as a Hindu.”


By 1928, she had become skilled in Kaakirasi. From this she stepped in to become the heroine of JC Daniel’s film after his first prospective heroine proved unsuited for the role. She played the character of Sarojini, a Nair woman, in the movie. When Vigathukumaran was released, members of the Nair community were enraged to see a Dalit woman portray a Nair. Many eminent members of the film industry at the time refused to come and inaugurate the opening of Vigathakumaran if Rosy was to be physically present there, including the famous lawyer Madhoor Govindan Pillai. Following a scene in which the main character kissed a flower in her hair, the audience threw stones at the screen. The director, Daniel, himself didn’t invite her to the opening at Capitol theatre in Thiruvananthapuram, fearing a backlash. But Rosy had attended anyway, but was still made to watch a second showing by those boycotting the event.

Due to her “crime” of acting as a Nair, her home was reportedly burnt down by upper castes. Reports then state that she fled in a lorry that was headed to Tamil Nadu, married the lorry driver, Kesavan Pillai and lived her life quietly in Tamil Nadu as “Rajammal”. Her children knew nothing of her brief stardom other than she was a theatre artist and currently live as Nairs, Pillai’s caste.


The story of the film was first rediscovered in the late 1960s by Chengalatt Gopalakrishnan while in 1971 Kunnukuzhi published his first article about her.

In 2013, Kamal directed a biopic on Daniel, titled Celluloid. The film is partially based on the novel Nashta Naayika by Vinu Abraham, and also deals with the life of Rosy. Newcomer Chandni Geetha portrays her. It faced criticism for portraying Rosy as mindless and submissive to upper castes. Two other films about her life have also been made: The Lost Child and Ithu Rosiyude Katha (This is Rosy’s Story). A society of women actors in Malayalam cinema named itself the PK Rosy film society.

Taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P._K._Rosy