Dalits are at the bottom of the Hindu caste system and despite laws to protect them, they still face widespread discrimination. But leaving behind all these there are people who have made it to the top posts of Governance in India. Like the first Dalit president K R Narayanan, NDA's presidential nominee Ram Nath Kovind and Meira Kumar has risen from a modest background. They have followed the legecy set by the first dalit President K R Narayanan after whom these leaders charted different paths to reach the zenith of their public life.
Here are the list of 10 dalits leaders who broke glass ceiling to reach the top:
Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar popularly known as Baba Saheb, was an Indian jurist, economist, politician and social reformer who inspired the Dalit Buddhist Movement and campaigned against social discrimination against Untouchables (Dalits), while also supporting the rights of women and labour. He was Independent India's first law minister and the principal architect of the Constitution of India.
In 1956 he converted to Buddhism, initiating mass conversions of Dalits. In 1990, the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian award, was posthumously conferred upon Ambedkar. Ambedkar's legacy includes numerous memorials and depictions in popular culture.
K. R. Narayanan:
Narayanan began his career in India as a member of the Indian Foreign Service in the Nehru administration. He served as ambassador to US, Japan, United Kingdom among other major countries. In 1992 he was elected as the ninth Vice President. KR Narayanan became the first person of Dalit origin to be elected as President of India in 1997.
K. G. Balakrishnan:
Konakuppakatil Gopinathan Balakrishnan was the first person of Dalit origin to ascend to the post of the Chief Justice in the Supreme Court of India. He was also the first judge from the state of Kerala to become the CJI of the Supreme Court. He was also the Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of India.
Ram Nath Kovind:
70-year-old Kovind is a Dalit leader from Kanpur, he was president of the BJP Dalit Morcha from 1998 to 2002. He has also been President of the All India Koli Samaj as well as the SC/ST representative at IIM-Calcutta. Kovind was twice elected to Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh in 1994-2000 and 2000-2006.He represented India in the United Nations in New York and addressed United Nations General Assembly in October 2002.
Meira Kumar is the daughter of former Prime Minister and prominent Dalit leader, Jagjivan Ram, and freedom fighter Indrani Devi. She has been Member of Parliament for five times. Also, the first woman Speaker of Lok Sabha. She served as the speaker of the Lower House from 2004-2009. She is another Dalit leader from Akola in Maharashtra
Mayawati became the youngest Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh in 1995. She was also the first female Dalit Chief Minister in India. In 2008, Forbes added Mayawati in the 59th place on its list of the 100 most powerful women in the world.
Ram Vilas Paswan:
Paswan started his political career in 1969 as a member of Samyukta Socialist Party. He was elected as an MLA from the reserved constituency in the same year. Paswan followed footsteps of Jayprakash Narayan and was subsequently appointed as the general secretary of Lok Dal in the year 1974. Currently he the Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
Jagjivan Ram played a instrumental role in the upliftment of the Dalits by contributing to the establishment of the All-India Depressed Classes League, an organisation dedicated to attaining equality for untouchables in 1935. In the same year he proposed a resolution demanding opening up of temples and drinking water wells to Dalits.
He was elected to Bihar Legislative Assembly in 1937, after which he organised the rural labour movement. In early 1940s was imprisoned twice for his active participation in the Satyagraha and the Quit India Movements.
G. M. C. Balayogi:
Balayogi started his career as a law in 1980 in Kakinada under the guidance of Shri Gopalaswamy Shetty, and in 1985 and was selected as a First Class Magistrate. In 1991, Balayogi was elected to the 10th Lok Sabha lower house parliament under the Telugu Desam. He was first Dalit to be elected as the 12th Speaker of Lok Sabha (24 March 1998) and again for the 13th Lok Sabha (22 October 1999).
Jogendra Nath Mandal:
Jogendra Nath Mandal was one of the central and leading Founding Fathers of modern state of Pakistan, and legislator serving as country's first minister of law and labour, and also was second minister of commonwealth and Kashmir affairs.
As a leader of the Scheduled Castes (Dalits), Jogendranath made common cause with the Muslim League in their demand for Pakistan, hoping that the Scheduled Castes would be benefited from it and joined the first cabinet in Pakistan as the Minister of Law and Labour.