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

Pa. Ranjith


Pa. Ranjith is an Indian filmmaker who works in Tamil films. He made his directorial debut with the 2012 romantic comedy Attakathi, before earning unanimously positive reviews for his second film, the political drama Madras (2014). In 2016, he wrote and directed the gangster-drama Kabali and in 2018, Kaala both starring Rajinikanth. In 2021, he directed the highly acclaimed Sarpatta Parambarai, starring Arya and Pasupathy.

Pa. Ranjith was born at Karalapakkam, Avadi, Chennai. He has two brothers – Prabhu and Saravana. He graduated from Government College of Fine Arts, Chennai, and has described how his travels to and from his college often helped create inspiration for film ideas.

Sociocultural Initiatives

Ranjith extended his social work in another form, which is ‘Neelam Panpaatu Maiyam’ (Neelam Cultural Center). As part of this initiative, in honour of the 100 years of Dalit struggle, life-sized sculptures were established and the efforts of the Dalit activists were documented.

Neelam Panpaatu maiyam also conducted the three day arts festival – ‘Vaanam’ in Chennai between December 29 to 31, 2018. The festival was unticketed and many artists across Tamil Nadu participated in it. Also many artifacts were presented. Ranjith explained that this festival would act as a platform to discuss more complex social issues through art.

Neelam cultural center launched ‘Koogai Thiraipada Iyakkam’ (Koogai Film Movement). This movement was started to bridge the gap between literature and cinema. As part of this movement, the first initiative was to set up a library named ‘Koogai’.

Neelam cultural center rolled out their new campaign ‘#VoteOutHate’ and started producing short films on the same for a release in their official YouTube channel. The first film was Lovers in the afternoon directed by Rajesh Rajamani and the second film was ‘Share Auto’ directed by Jenny Dolly.

The Casteless Collective

Ranjith’s organisation, Neelam Cultural Centre, collaborated with the label Madras Records to form a 19-piece band called The Casteless Collective that includes four rappers, seven instrumentalists and eight gaana musicians, a popular folk music style in Tamil Nadu. The name of the band was inspired by a phrase – “jaathi bedha matra Tamilargal” – used by Tamil anti-caste activist and writer C Iyothee Thass. Iyothee Thassa Pandithar (1845-1914) was the first to moot the phrase “Jaathi Bedha Matra Tamizhargal” in the early 20th century by publishing the same in his Tamil Journal Tamizhan (1907-1914).

For more details visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pa._Ranjith

Sukhadeo Thorat


Sukhadeo Thorat (born 12 July 1949) an Indian economist, educationist, professor and writer. He is the former chairman of the University Grants Commission. He is professor emeritus in Centre for the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University. He is an expert on B. R. Ambedkar.

Thorat hails from Mahar community of Maharashta. Thorat graduated with a B.A. from Milind College of Arts, Aurangabad, Maharashtra. He obtained an M.A. in Economics from Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, M.Phil/PhD in Economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Diploma in Economic Planning, Main School of Planning, Warsaw, Poland.

For more details visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sukhadeo_Thorat

Satyendra Murli


Satyendra Murli (born 14 February 1983) is a researcher, media pedagogue and a journalist. He has been associated with Doordarshan (DD News), (public service broadcaster of India, Prasar Bharti, government of India) as an Indian television journalist; and other several media organizations. He teaches at university level as an assistant professor of communication and media studies. His research areas are communication, mass media, journalism, media studies, media pedagogy, Buddhism; and open and distance learning.

Satyendra Murli follows the ideology of Buddha and he is popularly known as an Ambedkarite journalist. He has been actively participating in social and political movements based on Phule-Ambedkar ideology for a long time, more than two decades. He strengthens the voice for human rights, freedom of speech, women rights, rights of tribals and dalits (indigenous people), diversity in media, representation of other backward classes (OBC) and religious minority.

Satyendra Murli is born in the Jatav family to Sushila Devi Jatav and Santoshi Ram Jatav in Birana, Dausa (Rajasthan), India. His grandfather was Shri Murli Ram Jatav, a farmer and a social leader.

Satyendra did his schooling at the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya (JNV), Dausa; Shanti Niketan School, Mahwa and GSSS, Bhilwara with science subjects. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in public administration, geography and Hindi literature from the University of Rajasthan (Jaipur); he completed his Master of Journalism and Mass Communication from the Centre for Mass Communication (Jaipur). He did PGDHJ from Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Ministry for I & B (New Delhi). Satyendra Murli did his M.Phil. research degree on Buddhist ethics and news media from Gautam Buddha University, Greater Noida, Uttarpradesh. He registered as a PhD research scholar and worked on media pedagogy.

Satyendra Murli a journalist with Doordarshan passionately spoke of double standards in the media. He argues, “If so-called lower caste or Dalit journalists raise their voice against the casteism, they are accused of being casteist and the ones actually perpetuating this casteism actually become national journalists”. He strongly urged journalists to stand together on issues of casteism and reservation.

Fore more details visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satyendra_Murli

Narendra Jadhav


Narendra Damodar Jadhav (born 28 May 1953) is an Indian economist, educationist, public policy expert, professor and writer in English, Marathi and Hindi. He is an expert on Babasaheb Ambedkar.

Dr. Narendra Jadhav has completed (on 24 April 2022) his first term as a Member of Rajya Sabha, the upper house of Indian Parliament. He previously served as member of the Planning Commission of India and the National Advisory Council. Prior to this, he worked as Vice Chancellor of Savitribai Phule Pune University, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and headed economic research at the Reserve Bank of India.

Dr. Jadhav is a recipient of 72 national and international awards including four Honorary D.Litt Degrees and the title Commander of the Order of Academic Palms by the Government of France.

Dr Jadhav is about to complete his magnum opus – a 61-hour Mega Web Series titled ‘Indian Constitution: The Pride of Our Nation’. The Mega Web Series made in English with participation from 18 Supreme Court and High Court Judges, 34 MPs, 10 top Constitution experts and more than 30 domain experts of repute, is expected to be released in India and abroad soon in all major Indian languages, with a view to mark ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mohotsav’.

Narendra Damodar Jadhav was born on 28 May 1953 to a Mahar family from the village of Ozar (Nashik District) and grew up in Mumbai suburb of Wadala. In 1956, his family converted to Buddhism. Jadhav attended Chhabildas High School, Dadar. He completed his BSc in Statistics from Ramnarain Ruia College, University of Mumbai in 1973 and MA in Economics from the University of Mumbai in 1975. He later earned a PhD in Economics from Indiana University, USA in 1986

For more please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narendra_Jadhav

Meghnad Saha


Meghnad Saha FRS (6 October 1893 – 16 February 1956) was an Indian astrophysicist who developed the Saha ionization equation, used to describe chemical and physical conditions in stars. His work allowed astronomers to accurately relate the spectral classes of stars to their actual temperatures. He was elected to the Parliament of India in 1952 from Calcutta.

Meghnad Saha was born in 1893 in a very poor family in Shaoratoli, a village near Dhaka-Bikrampur, in the former Bengal Presidency of British India (in present-day Village- Shaoratoli, Thana- Kaliakair, District- Gazipur, Bangladesh). Son of Jagannath Saha (a grocer) and Smt. Bhubneshwari Devi, Meghnad struggled to rise in life. During his early schooling he was forced to leave Dhaka Collegiate School because he participated in the Swadeshi movement. He earned his Indian School Certificate from Dhaka College. He was also a student at the Presidency College, Kolkata and Rajabazar Science College CU. As a student, Saha faced caste discrimination from his fellow upper-caste students. When Saha was at Eden Hindu Hostel, upper-caste students objected to him eating in the same dining hall because he was not from upper caste. He was also a professor at Allahabad University from 1923 to 1938, and thereafter a professor and Dean of the Faculty of Science at the University of Calcutta until his death in 1956. He became Fellow of the Royal Society in 1927. He was president of the 21st session of the Indian Science Congress in 1934.

For more details visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meghnad_Saha

Birsa Munda


Birsa Munda pronunciation (help·info) (15 November 1875 – 9 June 1900) was an Indian tribal freedom fighter, and folk hero who belonged to the Munda tribe. He spearheaded a tribal religious millenarian movement that arose in the Bengal Presidency (now Jharkhand) in the late 19th century, during the British Raj, thereby making him an important figure in the history of the Indian independence movement. The revolt mainly concentrated in the Munda belt of Khunti, Tamar, Sarwada and Bandgaon.

Birsa received his education in Salga under the guidance of his teacher Jaipal Nag.Later, Birsa converted into a Christian to join the German Mission School but soon dropped out after finding out that Britishers were aiming to convert tribals to Christianity through education.

After dropping out of school, Birsa Munda created a faith called ‘Birsait’.

Members of the Munda community soon started joining the faith which in turn became a challenge for the British conversion activities.

The cause of the Munda revolt was the ‘unfair land grabbing practices by colonial and local authorities that demolished the tribal conventional land system’.

Birsa Munda is known for challenging the Christian missionaries and revolting against the conversion activities along with the Munda and Oraon communities.

His portrait hangs in the Indian Parliament Museum.

For more visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birsa_Munda