Mahatma Ayyankali
Mahatma Ayyankali was one of those renowned social reformers who
played a vital role in cleansing the Hindu society of social evils. He was
born in 1863 in Venganoor under the rule the Travancore state. He was
one of seven children belonging to a Pulaya family (Pulayas were
considered untouchables in those days). They were not allowed to walk
through public roads. Their women were not allowed to cover their chests
in public places. Their children were not allowed access to education.
Personal Life: Although Ayyankali was uneducated, he was determined
to rebel against the existing forms of discrimination in society. He started
his rebellion by daring to ride his bullock cart into the market through the
public roads of Venganoor. Enraged by his audacity, the upper-castes
physically attacked him. But that did not dissuade Ayyankali from
reaching his goal. His valor encouraged other Dalits to throw off the
fetters of servility. Ayyankali went on to lead a group of pulaya
youngsters to the village market. Inspired by him, other Dalits throughout
southern Kerala launched a movement for civil rights. This movement
tasted success in 1900 when the Dalits of Travancore won the right to
walk along the public roads.
    But that was just the beginning. Knowing how lack of education had
kept them in darkness, Ayyankali opened a school to teach the children
belonging to Dalit families at Venganoor. Unfortunately his school was set
ablaze by a group of upper-caste people. Rather than losing hope,
Ayyankali launched another mass movement to ensure the right to
education for all Dalits. Like his previous movement, this one was also
successful when in 1907 the Travancore government passed an order
mandating that all Dalit children      be admitted into public schools. But