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Mahatma Ayyankali

Topics Covered: Modern Indian history from about the middle of the eighteenth century until the present- significant events, personalities, issues.

Mahatma Ayyankali:


PM remembers Mahatma Ayyankali on his 157th Birth Anniversary- 28th August.

Who is Mahatma Ayyankali?

Born on August 28th, 1863 in a small village in the princely state of Travancore, now within the south of the modern-day nation of Kerala,

The caste discrimination he faced as a child turned him into a leader of an anti-caste movement and who later fought for basic rights including access to public spaces and entry to schools.

  • Mahatma Gandhi called Ayyankali as ‘Pulaya king’. Indira Gandhi described him as ‘India’s greatest son’.

His contributions to Dalit developments:

  • Ayyankali in 1893 rode an ox-cart challenging the ‘ban’ on untouchables from accessing public roads by caste-Hindus.
  • He also led a rally to assert the rights of ‘untouchables’ at Balaramapuram. The walk Ayyankali took came to be known as ‘walk for freedom’ and the consequent riots as ‘Chaliyar riots’.
  • Ayyankali efforts influenced many changes that improved social wellbeing of those people, who are today referred to as Dalits.
  • Ayyankali became a stated protestor for Pulayar rights. Because of the protests led through Ayyankali, in 1907 a decree turned into issued to confess students from the untouchable network to government schools.
  • Inspired by Sree Narayana Guru, a social reformer from Ezhava caste, Ayyankali started Sadhu Jana Paripalana Sangham (association for the protection of the poor) which later raised funds to start their own schools.


Prelims Link:

  1. Who gave Ayyankali the title ‘Pulaya king’?
  2. Chaliyar riots are related to?
  3. About Sree Narayana Guru and his key contributions.
  4. Who started Sadhu Jana Paripalana Sangham?

Mains Link:

Write a note on key contributions made by Mahatma Ayyankali for the welfare of Dalit community.

Sources: pib.