K. P. Janaki Ammal

K.P. Janaki Ammal (1917-1992) was a politician from Communist Party of India (Marxist) and president of All India Democratic Women's Association.[1] She represented Madurai East in the Tamil Nadu legislative assembly in 1967.[2]

Early lifeEdit

Born in 1917, she was the only child of Padmanabhan and Lakshmi. Her early life was spent in poverty. Her mother died when she was 8 years old, and she was raised by her grandmother. She dropped out of school in the eighth grade, in order to pursue music. She Palaniappa Pillai Boys Company for a salary of Rs.25 per month. She later went on to become the lead actress and earned over Rs. 300 per performance. She teamed up with S.S. Viswanathadas on stage, to engage with the issue of caste based untouchability.[2]

Janaki Ammal married a harmonium player from the troupe, Gurusamy Naidu.[2]


She is known as the first South Indian woman to be arrested by the British. She was first arrested in 1930 while performing in Tirunelveli and spent one year in jail.[2] She was arrested for participating in anti- war propaganda in Trichy, under the Defence of India Rules.[1][3]

She was one of the active political members of the Individual Satyagraha Movement.[3] In 1936, she joined Congress party and worked as the office bearer in the Madurai Congress Committee She then shifted to the Congress Socialist Party. She joined Communist Party of India in 1940. After the party's split, she moved to the Communist Party of India (Marxist).[2]

Janaki Ammal and Ponmalai Paapa Umanath were founders of the Tamil Nadu Democratic Women's Association in 1974, where the former became its first president.[2]

Personal lifeEdit

During the Emergency, she sold off her jewellery and silk clothes to raise money for food, for party cadres.[2]

Repeated arrests and never ending hard work took a toll on her health. She died of asthma on 1 March 1992.[2]


  1. ^ a b "Madurai's very own freedom fighters". The Hindu. 23 July 2012. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "A life of sacrifice". The Hindu. 6 March 2014. Retrieved 19 March 2014.
  3. ^ a b "Shodhganga" (PDF).