Kancha Ilaiah

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Kancha Ilaiah
Native name కంచ ఐలయ్య
కంచ ఐలయ్య షెప్హర్డ్
Born (1952-10-05) 5 October 1952 (age 64)
Papaiahpet, Hyderabad State, India
(now in Telangana, India)
  • Osmania University (M.A. Political Science)
  • Osmania University (M.Phil Political Science)

Director, Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy (CSSEIP) at Maulana Azad National Urdu University,

Known for Writer and speaker on Indian political thought
Theorist and activist for the Dalit-Bahujan movement

Mahatma Jyotirao Phule Award Nehru Fellow 1994-97

Manyawar Kanshiram Smriti Mahanayak Puraskar

Kancha Ilaiah (Telugu: కంచ ఐలయ్య; born 5 October 1952), also known as Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, is an Indian political scientist, writer and activist for Dalit rights. He is a prolific writer in both English as well as Telugu.

Early life[edit]

Kancha Ilaiah was born in the village of Papaiahpet, Warangal district in erstwhile Hyderabad State.[1] His family belonged to the sheep-grazing Kuruma Golla caste, a community designated by the Government of India as an Other Backward Class group. Ilaiah credited his mother, Smt. Kancha Kattamma, as pivotal in shaping his political thought.[2] According to Ilaiah, she was at the forefront of the Kurumas' struggle against the forest guards' discriminatory behaviour. Smt. Kancha Kattamma was killed during a violent confrontation while protesting against police brutality.[3]

Professional life[edit]

Kancha Ilaiah received an M.A. degree in political science and an M.Phil., awarded for his study of land reform in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.[1] He has been a recipient of the Mahatma Jyotirao Phule Award and was a Nehru Fellow between 1994-97.[1]

Ilaiah earned a Ph.D on the basis of his work exploring the political dimension of Buddhism, culminating in God as Political Philosopher - Buddha Challenge to Brahminism.[4]

Illaiah has encouraged proficiency in the English language for Dalits, arguing that it would allow Dalits in India to intellectually engage the world outside India without non-Dalits speaking "for them".[5][6][7] In May 2016, in protest against "Brahmanic hegemony" he claims continues to persist in India, Ilaiah appended "Shepherd" to his name. Ilaiah d identified in this choice recognition and reaffirmation of his family origins. As an English-language proper noun rather than its equivalent in an Indian language, "Shepherd" is meant to demonstrate a symbolic break with the cultural norms Ilaiah believed "Brahmins" sought to "impose" on Indian society. Ilaiah characterizes his name change as a tool for the upliftment of Dalits.[8]

Currently, Kancha Ilaiah is serving as director of the Centre for Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy at Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) in Hyderabad.


While working as an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at Osmania University, several of Ilaiah's colleagues as well as academics affiliated with the university expressed, in an open-letter, their concern with respect to certain articles and opinions Ilaiah had contributed to a local newspaper and advised him against writing material that could inflame sectarian discontent or prejudice.[1]

In February 2013, at the Jaipur Literary Festival, Kanacha Ilaiah and Javed Akhtar engaged in a heated discussion over the implications of religion in Indian social life.[9]

Ilaiah has also been criticised for believing in the Aryan Invasion theory.[8][10] In November 2015, Ilaiah stated that if Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the first Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of India credited with forging national unity amidst the intense violence and bloodletting that followed the creation of Pakistan, had been Prime Minister of India, India "would have become Pakistan".[11]


Among Ilaiah's official appointments have been:[12]

  • Director, Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy (CSSEIP) at Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad
  • Member of National Research Committee constituted by the Ministry of Social Justice, New Delhi
  • Member – Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), New Delhi
  • Former Member of the National Book Trust, Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of India, New Delhi for three years
  • Member of the Planning Commission Sub Committee to formulate an agenda for land reforms for the XI Five Year Plan
  • Member of the UGC Constitutional Committee to oversee the implementation of OBC reservations in all Central and State universities in India
  • Former member of the Executive Council of Periyar Maniammai University (Tamil Nadu)

Selected publications[edit]

English language publications:

Telugu language publications:

  • ఐలయ్య, క. మన తత్వం: దళిత బహుజన తాత్వికత. హైదరాబాద్: హైదరాబాద్ బుక్ ట్రస్ట్


External links[edit]