Don't use word 'Dalit' on air, Centre tells news channels

Sep 04, 2018, 07:56 IST | Dharmendra Jore

The advisory is in compliance with directions given by the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court on June 6

Don't use word 'Dalit' on air, Centre tells news channels
The advisory is in compliance with directions given by the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court. File Pic

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) has issued an advisory for media to refrain from using the nomenclature 'Dalit' while referring to members of scheduled castes (SCs).

The advisory is in compliance with directions given by the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court on June 6. The I&B Ministry issued a directive to this effect to private satellite TV channels last month.

Newspaper offices are expected to receive similar instructions any day now. Two private news channels confirmed to mid-day that they have received the directive. The managing editor of one of these channels said, "We were told about it on Friday, and we started following it the same day."

Started with 2016 PIL
Pankaj Meshram, a social worker from Amravati district in Maharashtra, had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in 2016, seeking the removal of the word 'Dalit' from all government documents and communication.

The PIL said the term was derogatory and identified the community with the social discrimination it has been subjected to. It said the word was solely being used for political motives.

Incidentally, before the HC's directive came, in March, the Centre had issued an advisory to the state governments to bar the use of the term in all official communication and documentation, and use only the constitutional term, 'Scheduled Castes', and the appropriate translation in other national languages. The high court had stated that since the Centre had issued this direction to its officers, a similar decree should also be issued to the media to the I&B Ministry and the Press Council of India (PCI).

Press Council resistant
Issuing the advisory to print media is taking more time as the matter has been referred to the PCI, which had earlier advised the media to refrain from using the nomenclature Scheduled Castes and Harijan.

Justice CK Prasad, PCI chairman, told mid-day from New Delhi that since PCI had some reservations about the directive, they might challenge the HC order. "I have put the matter before the council to take an appropriate decision," he said.

History of the word
The term 'Dalit' comes from the Sanskrit word 'dal', meaning downtrodden, or oppressed. Jyotirao Phule, founder of the Satya Shodak Samaj, used the term for 'untouchables' and victims of caste oppression. BR Ambedkar popularised the term.

Tell us what you think
Write to us at mailbag@mid-day.com or tweet @mid_day about whether you think the term 'Dalit' is derogatory and should be shunned.

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