Image Credits: James Thottan and Paul Thottan
Dakshayani Velayudan
1912

Early Life:

Dakshayani Velayudan was born in 1912 in Mulavukad, Kerala to a lower caste Pulaya community. She was inspired by her family’s involvement in the anti-caste movement. Dakshayani was one of the first women from Pulaya community to wear an upper cloth. She earned a university degree (B.Sc Chemistry) from Maharaja’s College, Ernakulam where she was the only woman pursuing a science course in her college. Dakshayani has the distinction of being the first woman Scheduled Caste graduate.

 

Later in 1945 Dakshayani was nominated to the Cochin Legislative Council.

 

Contribution to Constitution Making:

Dakshayani was elected to the Constituent Assembly from the Madras constituency. At the age of 34, she was one of the youngest and the only Dalit woman member of the Constituent Assembly. She made key interventions on issues of untouchability, forced labour, reservations, and separate electorates for Dalits.

 

Later contributions:

Dakshayani was a part of the Provincial Parliament together with her husband Mr Velayudhan, arguably making them the first Dalit couple in the Parliament.

 

She continued her civil society work with a focus on Dalit rights. In 1977, she set up a women’s rights organization Mahila Jagriti Parishad in Delhi.

 

Dakshayani was not a part of any Assembly Committees.

  • During the Objectives Resolution debate (precursor to Preamble of the Constitution), she noted that communalism was antithetical to nationalism. Further, she believed that emancipation of Harijans depended on adopting a set of ‘moral safeguards’.
  • When the Assembly discussed untouchability (Article 17 of the Constitution of India), she argued that the best way to address untouchability was through sustained state propaganda and not through punishment.
  • Contrary to other members from the minority communities, she opposed separate electorates for Harijans.