Press Council to decide if media can use the word ‘Dalit’

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Press Council to decide if media can use the word ‘Dalit’

The Press Council of India (PCI) will take a call on whether media can use the term ‘Dalit’, officials in the ministry of information and broadcasting said on Tuesday. The Bombay high court had last week asked the ministry to consider issuing a direction to the media to stop using the word ‘Dalit’.

“The PCI is the competent authority to take a call on the issue,” an official, requesting anonymity, said.

The Nagpur bench of the high court was hearing a PIL seeking removal of the word Dalit from all government documents and communication. On March 15, the ministry of social justice and empowerment had issued a circular advising the ministries and departments and state governments to refrain from using the term ‘Dalit’ for all official communication, and opt for constitutional term ‘Scheduled Caste’.

An official of the PCI, not wishing to be quoted, said the issue of identifying castes or religion has already been defined in the norms of journalistic conduct issued in August 1996.

Prof Vivek Kumar of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, however, said usage of the constitutional term should be limited to official communication, but cannot be barred from public use.

“...the term Dalit is one that was picked by the Dalits themselves. All other terms such as Harijan were given to them by others, so they take pride in the use of the term Dalit,” he said.