Image Credits: Meera Velayudhan/Facebook
Dakshayani Velayudhan
1912 - 1978

Early Life:

Dakshayani Velayudhan was born to a lower-caste Pulaya family. She was encouraged to pursue higher education, and has the distinction of being the first woman Scheduled Caste graduate. After graduation, she became a teacher in Thrissur.

 

Her family members' active involvement in civil disobedience movements against upper caste diktats, inspired her to also enter politics.  Later in 1945, she was nominated to the Cochin Legislative Council.

 

Contribution to Constitution Making:

Velayudhan 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:

Velayudhan was a part of the Provincial Parliament together with her husband, 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. 

 

In 2019, the Kerala Government instituted the Dakshayani Velayudhan award, which is to be bestowed on women who work towards the empowerment of other women in the state.

Velayudhan was not a part of any Assembly Committees.

  1. 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’.
  2. 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.
  3. Contrary to other members from the minority communities, she opposed separate electorates for Harijans.