The Republican Party of India (A) has decided to approach Supreme Court to challenge the Information and Broadcasting Ministry’s advisory to replace the word Dalit with Scheduled Caste.
Minister of State, Social Justice and Empowerment, and RPI (A) president, Ramdas Athawale, told The Indian Express: “My party has taken a decision to approach the Supreme Court to ensure that the word Dalit is not replaced with Scheduled Caste. It is not only unjust but also undemocratic.”
The RPI (A) plea is to ensure that the earlier order is stayed so that there is no restriction on the use of the word Dalit by individuals or organisations, he said. Athawale’s party is an ally of the NDA at the Centre and in Maharashtra.
“The I&B advisory was based on a petition filed by an Ambedkarite activist, Pankaj Meshram, in the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court. Following the June 6, 2018, court order, the government suggested that the word Dalit be replaced with Scheduled Caste, which is official,” Athawale said.
Conceding that all government records use Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe, he said: “The word Dalit has a larger socio-economic significance. It is not a word coined to depict any caste, community or religion. But it incorporates and accommodates the larger socio-economical backwardness, beyond an individual’s caste, community and religion. Therefore, it has to be perceived through the social spectrum.”
He added: “There are several Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe welfare organisations. Yet, we have at least 1,000 Dalit organisations. There are non-government organisations working for the welfare of the oppressed segments of the society. Any decision to strike down the word Dalit will amount to injustice to them and their objective.”
He denied that the development was part of an agenda of the ruling BJP or RSS. “It has nothing to do with the ruling BJP or RSS or Hindu agenda. The developments came after a court order responding to a petition that was filed by an Ambedkarite activist.”