'Dalit' word used by Ambedkar, Phule: Activists react as Kerala govt dept drops the term from its publications

Kerala government's information and public relations department (I&PRD) has banned terms like, `dalit' and `harijan', from its official communications

Kerala government’s information and public relations department (I&PRD) has done away with terms like , `dalit’ and `harijan’, from its official communications.

The ban, according to Times of India, was issued on the basis of a directive from Kerala State Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes chairman Justice P.N. Vijayakumar. The state government has also sought responses from all departments on dropping the terms in toto.

Speaking with Times of India, Vijayakumar said that he considered the ban of words after requests from the community. “The state government had issued a circular in 2008 against use of the words. The use of such terms will only lead to social boycott. It will destroy the feeling of one nation,” he said.

The ban on word ‘Dalit’, however, has irked Dalit activists who have opposed the move by state government. Speaking with Deccan chronicle, Dalit activist and writer A.S. Ajith Kumar said,”The word Dalit was being used by Dalits themselves to identify them as a political category. It 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.”

Underlining the importance of the term, the activist 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”.

He also said that the ‘Scheduled Caste and Tribes’ were the words used by British in 1936 instead of the term ‘depressed classes’.