Kerala government’s Information and Public Relations Department on October 7 released a circular directing a ban on cast indicative words ‘Dalit’ and ‘Harijan’. The department also confirmed that the two words will not be used in the official communications from the date. The directive was issued on the recommendation from Justice PN Vijayakumar the chairman of Kerala State Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
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.
While several social activists have voiced their support for the move, some 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 Dalit debate in Kerala has been long a concern for the state government and instances of the minor castes being treated unfairly have grown in past few years. The Dalits in some cases have also responded violently to the suppression.
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.