Dakshayani Velayudhan – The first Dalit woman graduate in India & the first female Dalit parliamentarian from Kerala

Dakshayani Velayudhan (1912 – 1978) was one of the most influential and educated females of south India in pre-independent India. A social activist, Dakshayani was a member of Constituent Assembly of India which acted as the first parliament of free India. Thus she was the first dalit parliamentarian from Kerala, and also one among the first Indian parliamentarians, though before the unification of states based on language. After the formation of Kerala state, Ramya is the only elected woman dalit parliamentarian from the state.

Dakshayani Velayudhan

Dakshayani Velayudhan belonged to Pulaya community. She was born in Mulavukad village of present-day Ernakulum district. She graduated in science in 1935. With the support of scholarships given by Cochin state, she completed teachers’ training course from the Madras University. She also worked as a teacher at the Government High Schools in Trichur and Tripunithura. She married social activist R. Velayudhan in the presence of Mahatma Gandhi and Kasturba Gandhi at Sevagram in Wardha, and a leper was the priest of the ceremony.

She was a Gandhian and Ambedkarite. She, along with her husband was nominated to the Cochin Legislative Council by the state government in 1945. As a member of Constituent Assembly and the Provisional Parliament of India, she served as a member of India’s first parliament between 1946 and 1952. Her husband also became an elected member of Constituent Assembly. She was one among the 389 people and 15 women, who were elected. When it comes to political debates in the parliament during her tenure, she highlighted many issues related to SC and ST, and supported B R Ambedkar.

Dakshayani Velayudhan – Some less-known and interesting facts

1. Her elder brother K. P. Vallon, a social reformer and leader is best known for his efforts towards the uplift of Pulaya community in the state of Kerala.

2. The first dalit parliamentarian from Kerala, and also one among the first Indian parliamentarians, it took 6 decades for the state of Kerala to send second woman dalit parliamentarian to Lok Sabha.  

3. She was the first and only Scheduled Caste woman to be elected to the constituent assembly.

4. She is the first and only Dalit woman MLA from the state of Kerala.

5. She was the first woman from Pulaya scheduled community to wear an upper cloth.

6. She was a science graduate, and hence the first female dalit science graduate from the country too.

7. She was a member of the Cochin Legislative Council and one among nine female members of the Constituent Assembly of India.

8. Her husband R. Velayudhan was a dalit leader and an elected parliamentarian.

9. She unsuccessfully contested 1971 general elections from Adoor Lok Sabha constituency.

10. She was a relative of K R Narayanan, the first dalit person to hold the post of President of India.

11. As a parliamentarian she vouched for to make article 11, to make untouchability a punishable law.

12. She was the founder president of the Mahila Jagriti Parishad, and has been associated with many organizations meant for uplift of women and dalits.

13. ‘Dakshayani Velayudhan Award’ has been constituted by government of Kerala in 2019, honouring brave ladies who work towards women empowerment.

14. Her daughter Meera Velayudhan is a scholar and a policy analyst with the Centre for Environment & Social Concerns in Ahmedabad.

15. At GES2017 India’s defense minister Nirmala Sitharaman addressed her as an epitome of social entrepreneurship.

Author’s note: In my opinion, it’s not right to call someone Dalit or categorize his/her achievements based on it. Personally I feel no discrimination between people belonging to different castes or groups, and usually never mention so in my posts. Here I mentioned it so, only because she is identified as a senior-most prominent dalit leader from Kerala. Excuses. 

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A freelance writer and blogger by profession since October 2011, interested in writing over a wide range of topics. Hope you enjoy my writings. I belong to one of the beautiful places of the world, Kerala, nicknamed as 'God's own country'.

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