Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Dakshayani (1912 -78), the only Dalit women Member in the Constitution Drafting Assembly.

Dakshayani (1912 -78) whole India witnessed casteism and Hindu Sudras including untouchables suffered most inhuman treatments under hands of their caste upper caste Hindus. This ill treatment was at its peak during Peshawa rule (1674-1857), which was perhaps worst time for the untouchable castes when it was mandatory for them to tie an earthen pot with their neck to spit and a broom at the back to sweep their foot marks, else Brahmins may get polluted. Their ladies young and old were prohibited to wear clothes above their waists. Kerala also was hit by this malady in its worst form. It continued in its ugliest form even during the 19th and early 20th centuries when the lower caste people such as Ezhavas and the untouchable castes like Paraiyars, tribals and Pulayars had to suffer discrimination from caste community . Many courageous well-meaning social and religious leaders from untouchable communities revolted against such inhuman acts of upper castes. Those who spearheaded revolutionary persons was Narayana Guru(1856-1928) a philosopher, spiritual leader and social reformer in India. He was joined by Mahatama Ayyankali (1863-1941),who broke the Hindu caste suppression laws and rod an oxen cart banned for the Dalit Mulnivasies to show that they need be treated as human. Chattampi Swamikal (1853- 1924) denounced the orthodox interpretation of Hindu texts citing sources from Vedas. He said his universe is the manifestation of but one mind. Alienation between one mind and another mind is unnatural. Swamikal also worked for the emancipation of women and encouraged them to come to the forefront of society. He said that the enslavement of women was a manifestation of male arrogance. The tale of suppression by the upper castes Aryans of the else while untouchables, now named Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs) and Other Back ward Classes (OBCs) continued. In the present times it is carried with different modes, mottos and intensities. Its resistance by exploited masses has also continued through their leaders all these times. The Bhagati Movement saints(15CE-17CE), particularly Dalit saints like Nam Dev, Kabir, Ravidas, Tukaram, chokhamela played a significant role in awakening Dalit masses against their religious exploitation by religious priests. In the last 200 years Dalit leaders Mahatma Jyotorao Phuley (1827-90), Birsa Munda (1875-1900), Maharaja Baroda Siyaji Rao Giakward III (1863-1939), Chhaterpati Sahu Ji Maharaj (1874-1922), Baba Ghadge (1876-1956) E.V. Ramaswamy Pariyar (1879-19730) Dr. Baba Saheb B.R. Ambedkar (1891-1956). He role played by these leaders Shaked the very roots of the exploiters in social, education and economic spheres. Bhima Koregaon incident is a symbol of the long history of Dalit warriorship with social mobility and casted great blow to Hindu imperialism. Dr. Baba Saheb burnt the Hindu Law Code Manusmiriti, a book of hate against untouchables and women on 25th December 1927. Instead of Manusmiriti he gave India its Constitution based of equality, brotherhood, fraternity. By his conversion with lacs of his followers to India’s oldest faith Buddhism, a religion of teaching universal brotherhood, Baba Saheb gave an escape route to Dalit masses, from the cage of hate and exploitative religion of their forefathers. This tale was carried by many Dalit ladies, one among them was Dakshayani Velayudhan. She earned the distinction of being first graduate and lone Dalit woman member of the Constituent Assembly. Dakshayani, was the daughter of Kallachammuri Kunjhan and his wife Maani, was born of 4 July 1912 off the coast of Cochin in Mulavukad , an rural slave caste, Pulayas. She was married to R. Velayudhan a Scheduled Caste leader who became later a Member of Parliament. Their wedding was held at Sewagram in Wardha Maharashtra, in presence of Mahatma Gandhi and Kasturba. A leper from Sewagram acted as a priest. Out of the legal wedlock of the couple had four sons Dr. Reghu (One time doctor for Smt. Indira Gandhi), Prahladan, Dhruvan, Bhagirath (Secretary General, The Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and one daughter Meera. She was reported to be also related to Dr. K R Narayanan the 10th President of India. She was a child of social change. She saw the early 1900s struggles for equality and recognition across Kerala. She lived for 66 years and passed in July 1978. Dakshayani’s while narrating formation of the Pulaya Mahana Sabha conveyed her the prevailing conditions on the public, the private, and public practices of anti-caste assertions The Low caste people were even allowed to hold their meeting on main land. So when Pulaya Mahajana Sabha(1913) was formed , organizers had to hold meeting in sea over country boats tied together in the sea in Bolghatty, as sea had now caste. The meeting plate form raft was made by joining together a large number of catamarans (multi-hull Boat) with the help and support of the fisherfolk Shri Krishnethi who was Dakshayani’s uncle being brother of her father Kunjan. Besides other her two brothers were also actively participated. Dakshayani graduated in 1935 with Chemistry, as first Dalit women of India, from Maharajas College in Ernakulam, Kochi. Three years later she completed her teachers' training course from the Madras University . During her studies she faced the blunt of untouchability as in the college she had to see practices from a distance, her teacher did not allow her to join other students in Chemistry laboratory. However, her studies were supported by scholarships from the government of the Cochin State From 1935 to 1945 she worked as a teacher at the Government High Schools in Trichur and Tripunithura. She dared to challenge the age-old stigma of Dalit women not to wear clothes above waist. She followed suit to wear upper waist covering after her mother Maani and sister. The low caste people were snatched right to walk on common designated pathways. Dakshayani had reportedly written in her book that as teacher she was asked by another upper caste lady walker to clear way for her. But Dakshayani did not oblige her, so she had to get down 4-5 feet down into paddy field, and then come on the path to continue her journey. Joining her political journey as per “Down memory lane of politics”, she called her Cochin Legislative Council nomination (1942). On August 2, 1945, Daksha ani spoke for the first time in the Cochin Legislative Council, in English. Pointing out that funds for the depressed classes were dwindling, she called for proportional reservation in panchayats and municipalities. Dakshayani also said that as long as untouchability remained, the word Harijan was meaningless, it was like calling dogs Napoleon. In the Constitution debates she even suggested to promptly ban untouchably by an ordinance Nominating Dakshayani a member of the Constituent Assembly (1946) was “interesting and historical”. The Indian Constitution Assembly had 299 members including 15 women members with Madam Dakshayani one from Dalit castes. In Constitution Assembly she supported the Chairman Constitution Drafting Committee Dr. Baba Saheb Ambedkar to the extent her Congress party manifesto permitted. In Parliament she took special interest in the matters of education especially that of the Scheduled Castes. On 8 November 1948, after Dr BR Ambedkar introduced the draft Constitution for discussion, she expressed her appreciation for the draft while calling for greater decentralization. On that day (Dr. H. C. Mookherjee ), Vice President was in the chair. While praising Dr. Baba Saheb’s labour despite his failing health, she said that the able and eloquent Chairman of the drafting Committee has done his duty creditably within the scope of the general set-up of the new State of India. I feel that even if he wanted, he could not have gone beyond the broad principles under which transfer of power took place and I therefore think that any criticism that is levelled against him is totally uncharitable and undeserved. Continuing her speech, she further said that even if there is any blame - and I think there is - it should go only to those of us who are present here and who were sent for the purpose of framing a constitution and on whom responsibilities were conferred by the dumb millions of this land who by virtue of their suffering for independence had great hopes when they sent us to this Assembly. She expressed some views which went against the draft Constitution schemes of things suggested in the draft Constitution. While speaking how the Construction shall work, when it comes in force, she said that the working of the Constitution will depend upon how the people will conduct themselves in the future, not on the actual execution of the law. So, she hoped that in course of time there will not be such a community known as Untouchables and that our delegates abroad will not have to hang their heads in shame if somebody raises such a question in an organization of international nature. But ,alas, this has not happened even after seven decades of our independence. While stressing abolition of untouchability by law she said “We cannot expect a constitution without a clause relating to untouchability because the Chairman of the Drafting Committee himself belongs to the untouchable community”. She suggested in her that the Constituent Assembly should go beyond framing a constitution and “give people a new framework for life”, use the opportunity to make untouchability illegal, and ensure “moral safeguard that gives real protection to the underdogs of India” (CA Debates, 151-152). Her idea of moral safeguards showed her maturity of mind that only an independent socialist republic could uplift unprivileged so remove social disabilities. Many of her assertions show richness of her mind making and her worries about welfare of her Low caste samaj along with her country. She also suggested that the final draft of the Constitution should be adopted following a ratification through a general election knowing not that the time was short to place a democratic system in action for India. Dakshayani’s political, social and personal views were her own independent thought and opinion. Her apprehensions for selection of state Governors from a panel of 4 persons have come true. While elucidation her point she said if the central Government happens to be of Congress, the Congress man will be selected. But before she could finish her speech, she was interrupted by the Chair, who said, she had exceeded her time limit, and that he was letting her continue “only because you are a lady.” After 70 years of independence her points most have proven correct. This is generally happening in selection posts, may be Governors, bureaucrats etc. the party in position decided merits on its norms. She suggested to select Governors by public. Now we observe that if a chief Minister belongs to one political party and other party is ruling in center. Then the Chief Minister and Governor mostly their hold views, on matters of common public interests, matching to the party ruling in State and Centre interests. She intervened again on 29 November 1948, during discussions on draft Article 17 to lend her support, to abolishes untouchability and to forbid its practice in any form. Often, she told by other women members that she asked too many questions. All other women members had come from privileged class like like Vijaylakshmi Pandit, Sarojini Naidu, Begum Aizaz, Rasul Kamla Chaudhary, Renuka Ray but contribution of Dakshayani in constitution drafting debates was much more than any other women members. Dakshayani was president of the Depressed Classes Youths Fine arts Club and the Managing Editor of The Common Man in Madras from 1946-49. She later became the founder president of the Mahila Jagriti Parishad. Honoring Dakshayani Velayudhan, the first and only Dalit woman MLA and Member Constitution Drafting Assembly, the Kerala government has constituted the “Dakshayani Velayudhan Award” to be given annually to women who contributed in empowering other women in the state. The budget earmarked Rs 2 crore for the award This announcement was made by the Kerala Finance Minister Dr. Thomas Isaac during the presentation of Kerala Budget 2019 in the Legislative Assembly on 31 January 2019. She will be long remembered for her services to Indian in general and Dalit Samaj in Particu Words:-1983 Er.H.R.Phonsa Dated 29-12-2021 Refences: - 1.(Indian Express April20,2019). 2. Kshirsagar, R K (1994). Dalit Movement in India and Its Leaders, 1857-1956 Dakshayani died after a short illness in July 1978. She was 66. 3.Google.

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