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Use 'Scheduled Caste' Instead Of Dalit, I&B Ministry Tells Media, Order Opposed By Dalit Groups

DIVYIA ASTHANA | 1
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| September 4 , 2018 , 09:35 IST

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in a directive quoted on Tuesday has asked media to "refrain from using the nomenclature Dalit" and instead use the Constitutional term ‘Scheduled Caste’ to refer to those from the Dalit community. Dalit rights groups have however opposed the I&B ministry's order, saying that the term 'Dalit' holds political significance and a sense of identity.

In the order issued on August 7 to all private satellite TV channels, the I&B Ministry cites a June order by the Bombay High Court, directing the Union government “to consider the question of issuing such direction to the media and take suitable decision upon it within next six weeks”.

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The petitioner had said that after the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment directive to state governments issued in March to replace the usage of the word 'Dalit' with 'Scheduled Caste', the media should also stop using the word 'Dalit' in reference to the community.

 “It is accordingly advised that media may refrain from using the nomenclature ‘Dalit’ while referring to members belonging to Scheduled Castes, in compliance with the directions of the Hon’ble Bombay High Court, and the Constitutional term ‘Scheduled Caste’ in English and its appropriate translation in other national languages should alone be used for all official transaction,” the I&B order said.

Meanwhile, Dalit leader and Union Minister of State for Social Justice Ramdas Athawale was quoted by The Indian Express as saying that the word ‘Dalit’ “denotes a sense of pride”.

“The petition has been filed by a Buddhist. It is fine to say that government records should use the term Scheduled Castes, but we see no reason why the media cannot use the term ‘Dalit’. Most Dalit groups don’t have a problem with the usage and don’t think it to be insulting in any way. It is, in fact, a word that instilled a sense of militancy in Ambedkarites — the need to be krantikaris when faced with injustice,” he said.