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Reject Thorat committee's views about the usage of word Dalit

Though the report submitted by the review committee headed by Mr.S.K.Thorat is yet to be released officially, we came to know the observations and recommendations of the committee from the ‘wiki leaked ‘report published by on July 3rd in its website. 

We appreciate the committee for its recommendation to delete the controversial cartoons on Ambedkar and Anti Hindi agitation.But; we totally surprised to see its recommendation over the usage of the word ‘Dalit’. 

In the appendix -1 of the report while the committee gives its ‘general recommendations to be considered at the time of review textbook wise in the next year’ it said that the ‘word Dalit should not be used.  In that place SC should be used or it should be verified whether the replacement is legally fine’. 

Dalit is a 'subjectivity' chosen by those who want to annihilate caste system; it is not an 'identity'. Choosing subjectivity is a conscious act. But the Hindu caste system wants to reduce the subjectivity into an identity by making the word as a mere replacement for Scheduled Caste or Untouchable.

Dalit leaders have used many words to call themselves. Pandit  Iyothee Thass(1845-1914) a leader of Tamil Dalits had used "casteless Dravidians" and "Original Buddhists". He criticized the usage of the word 'Depressed Class' in his writings.  Ambedkar used several words -- Depressed Class, Untouchables and Minorities, and also on a few occasions the term 'Dalit'.

A well known scholar of the Dalit movement and literature Eleanor Zelliot has stated in her introduction to Vasant Moon's autobiography 'Growing up Untouchable in India': "The most recent nomenclature for ex-untouchables is 'dalit'; a term meaning downtrodden or broken down but used with pride as self-chosen name that reflects no idea of pollution and can include all who identify themselves as oppressed by the caste system.' Dalit' came into currency in the 1970s in movements that took names such as Dalit Panthers and Dalit literature and now is the preferred name for those (such as Vasant Moon) who want to free themselves from the concept of pollution and from the patronage of Gandhian ideology". So the etymological meaning of the word 'Dalit' is not important here as much as it’s functional meaning.

Statutes are enacted to maintain law and order not to interfere in the affairs of language. So looking at the statutes to decide the fate of a word is incorrect. 

Text books are not statutes. They are texts of knowledge, social, scientific etc. The context in the text book will decide which word is appropriate. If the text book talks about the Constitution, the term SC is appropriate; if it talks about literature, political organization, or social structure Dalit is appropriate.

This recommendation has wider consequences and the committee has gone beyond its mandate by doing this. So, we request you to reject this inappropriate recommendation.

This petition was delivered to:
  • Mr Kapil Sibal, Honourable Minister, MHRD, New Delhi

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