Valayar Ravi, who assumed office as the new Overseas Indian Affairs Minister on January 30, 2006, was born in 1937 in Valayar village of Kerala's Allappuzha district, in a middle class family of a freedom fighter. His father, M.K Krishnan, was actively involved in the struggle for India's independence and was also a social activist who fought against untouchability in the state.
His mother, Devaky Krishnan was a prominent political leader of Kerala. She was the president of Kerala State Mahila Congress and has contested elections in the citadel of the Communists since 1960.
Ravi married Mercy Ravi, a political activist as well as a writer, in 1969. She was an MLA in the Kerala State Assembly. The couple has a son and two daughters.
Ravi began his carrier as a student leader. In 1957, he organised the Kerala Student Union (KSU), which pioneered the student's movement in the state as helped the Congress entrench itself in Kerala.
The efforts of the Youth Congress and KSU created a new image of the Congress party which emerged as a ruling political force in Kerala. His association with the Youth Congress began as early as 1956 when he became the treasurer of the Alleppev District Youth Congress.
Later, in 1965, he became president of the Kerala Pradesh Youth Congress.
Ravi was elected to the KPCC in 1967 and became an AICC member. He was general secretary of the Indian Youth Congress when Narain Dutt Tiwari was the president. With the consent of Indira Gandhi, Ravi organised the National Students' Union of India (NSUI).
He was elected to the Lok Shabha in 1971 from Chirayinkil in Thiruvanathapuram district. He was again elected to the Lok Shabha in 1977.
In 1972, at the Kolkata AICC Session, he was elected to the Congress working Committee. A socialist by conviction, he was the convenor of the Socialist Forum for a long time. In 1982, he became the Home Minister of Kerala, but resigned in 1986 over difference of opinion with the Chief Minister K.Karuakaran. Ravi was again elected to the Kerala Assembly in 1987.
In 1992, Ravi became the president of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee defeating A.K Antony. He was elected to the Rajya Sabha in 1996.
In 2001, he became the general secretary of the All India Congress Committee. He was again elected to the Rajya Sabha in 2003. Before assuming charge as the Hon'ble Minister, he was the Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Development.
Ravi is a widely traveled person and has represented India three times at the United Nations General Assembly. He travels have taken him across Europe, the United States, Africa, the Gulf and several Asian countries. Ravi is also a well-known trade union leader of Kerala. He also served the cause of workers of Cochin Port Trust with remarkable distinction in his capacity as President of the Conchin Port Trust Workers' Union for the 30 years.
A postgraduate and a bachelor of law, Ravi is an excellent orator, a prolific writer and an outstanding parliamentarian.