Kerala govt prohibits using ‘Dalit’, ‘Harijan’ in official communications

The Kerala Information and Public Relations Department’s internal circular has directed to avoid usage of words “Dalit” and “Harijan” in its official communications.

The order was issued based on the directive from Kerala State Commission for Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) Chairman Justice PN Vijayakumar.

As per reports, SC and ST words have been tipped to be promoted instead of the latter, however, there is no confirmation on the move yet. The move has been shaped to reduce the growing influence of casteism in the state. The usages of these words promote discrimination for the lower caste and the boycott will discourage the prejudice on the grounds of caste in the state.

The department informed that the government has also banned the usage of word “Keezhalar” which was used to refer to scheduled communities.

It says that usage of these words would only help sustain social boycott of communities.

However, Dalit activists disagreed over its execution saying that the two words are used only for administrative purposes and that the ban won’t help in the fact that the community still holds significant history and culture.

The term ‘Dalit’ was coined by activist Jyotirao Phule and was later popularised by economist and social reformer BR Ambedkar before independence. The term Dalit was in use as a translation for the British Raj census classification of Depressed Classes prior to 1935.

The National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes had earlier in July had criticized the Kerala state government for failing to protect the minorities. As per reports close to 800 cases of discrimination and atrocities against the Dalits were filed between June 2016 to April 2017.

As carried in TOI

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