Dakshayani Velayudhan

Dakshayani Velayudhan (1912-1978) – India

Velayudhan’s life and politics were defined by the rigid caste system in Kerala. She belonged to the Pulaya community who were subject to acute discrimination and severe restrictions imposed by the upper caste in pre-Independence India.

Despite these obstacles, Velayudhan studied science at Madras University where she was the only female student in the entire department and was banned from carrying out experiments by an upper-caste teacher. It was during this time that she became determined to fight against the injustices of untouchability.

In 1946, the Constituent Assembly of India was elected in preparation for Independence and, among fifteen women, Velayudhan was the only Dalit caste woman to be nominated. Although she placed the struggles of her community and the abolition of untouchability ahead of women’s suffrage, her achievement and strength of character position her as an incredible female role model.

Although a small minority of women were allowed to vote and stand in local elections from 1919, it wasn’t until India gained independence from Britain that the Constituent Assembly of India agreed to the principle of universal suffrage in 1950.


Oil and embroidery on linen canvas.


Additional information

Dimensions 90 × 120 cm

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