Kancha Ilaiah (5 October 1952) is an Indian activist for Dalit rights and a writer. His books include Why I am not a Hindu, God As Political Philosopher: Budha's challenge to Brahminism, A Hollow Shell, The State and Repressive Culture, Manatatwam (in Telugu), and Buffalo Nationalism: A Critique of Spiritual Fascism.
Kancha Ilaiah was born in the village of Papaiahpet, Warangal district, which was then in the state of Andhra Pradesh. His family belonged to the sheep-grazing KurumaGolla caste. His mother exercised a seminal influence on his thinking. She was a strong woman and the leader of her caste against the forest guards. She had allegedly died in one of the confrontations with police, being fatally injured while protesting, when she was 46.
Ilaiah has a MA degree in political sciences and a MPhil awarded for his study of land reforms in Andhra Pradesh. He has been a recipient of the Mahatma Jyotirao Phule Award and was a Nehru Fellow between 1994-97. While working as an associate professor of political science at Osmania University his employer became concerned about articles he was writing for a local newspaper and advised him not to contribute material that might inflame sectarian discontent or prejudice.