Deccan Chronicle

Kerala: No to Dalit' in government publications

Deccan Chronicle| Sabloo Thomas

Published on: October 15, 2017 | Updated on: October 15, 2017

Activists protest against order insisting on use of Scheduled Caste'

Representational Image

Representational Image

Thiruvanthapuram: Dalit activists have come out against an order issued by the public relations department seeking to drop the term Dalit in government publications. As per the order, the word Scheduled Caste should be used in its place. The order was issued on the basis of a directive from Kerala State Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes chairman Justice P.N. Vijayakumar.Dalit activist and writer A.S. Ajith Kumar told Deccan Chronicle the word Dalit  was being used by Dalits themselves to identify them as a political category. This word was made invalid and included in the category of words like Harijan and Girijan which were rejected by the Dalits themselves on political and ideological grounds.

This cannot be taken lightly. The term Scheduled Caste was an administrative term unlike the word Dalit. The term was first used by the British in 1936 in place of the term depressed classes. The term Scheduled Castes excluded many including Dalit Christians from its purview, Mr Ajith Kumar said. The term was repeatedly used by Jyotibha Phule in his writings. The name was also politically used by Dr B.R. Ambedkar in his Marathi speeches, Mr Ajith kumar said. Dalit writer Sunny M. Kapicadu said that the word Dalit has several political connotations and was not merely used to represent people who are included in administrative category of Scheduled Caste.

The directive to exclude it from the visual and print media of the government should not be seen lightly. Especially since the Ambekarist politics representing the dalit political identity was the most effective force against Hindutva in the country. There was a concrete attempt to discredit this political category, Mr Kapicadu said. Dalit activist V.B. Ajayakumar said that the earlier order against the usage of the word in caste certificate was an administrative necessity. The word was used as a legal term in context of SC/ST prevention of atrocities Act and SCSP and TSP funds. However, the present move was to deny the political legitimacy of the word, Mr Ajayakumar said.

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