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The word Mala is taken from the Sanskrit word "Malla" which means wrestler.Mala are Dalits from the south Indian states of Andhra Pradesh Telangana and Karnataka. Mala groups are considered as Scheduled Castes by the Government of India. Mala communities were formerly subdivided into Baindla, Jangam, Poturaju, Mala Mashtin, Relli Mala, Mala Rajanna, Dandems, Nethakani, Mala Jangama.

Accurate history of the Malas in Andhra is not well known or thoroughly researched as yet. As far as neighbouring Mahars go, in the state of Maharashtra due to the military tradition of Shivaji, the Mahars who were village servants gave a good account of themselves as soldiers, fighting shoulder to shoulder with the upper caste Marathas and Kunbis. The Mahars suffered a setback during the later Peshwa times.

They are at a total loss to understand why they face discrimination, since as far as they know they have not harmed anybody, but in fact toiled hard for the benefit of all. The more perceptive of the community understand it is an old method to keep down wages of agricultural labour. The condition of farm labourers (who are mostly scheduled castes) is very bad, especially in dry zone areas. The farmworkers in irrigated areas are slightly better off.

Several pioneering members have taken to education after tackling great discrimination and jeering : many far sighted forward caste people, christian missionaries gave them a boost-- -but the malas put in the required effort. Overall the community today clearly understands education is the key. "Maaku sakti ledu saar" -- we cant afford it (referring to childrens education) is the refrain heard over and over again especially in rural areas.

Overall, at least in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, the Mala-mahar are forging ahead very rapidly. They are very deeply attached to the works of Dr Ambedkar. But few malas have taken to Buddhism in Andhra pradesh. The mala quarters in villages generally have a statue of Dr. Ambedkar. Very soon the malas will become "BC" rather than "SC". i.e. will display better social development indicators as a community.