A textbook case of exclusion
- IPL spot-fixing case: Actor Vindoo Dara Singh arrested in Mumbai
- IPL 2013 LIVE SCORE: Chennai Super Kings bat, Sachin Tendulkar still out
- Pune Warriors withdraw from IPL, 'disgusted' by BCCI's attitude
- IPL spot fixing: How Sreesanth splurged money on girlfriend
- Li Keqiang visits TCS, Cyrus P Mistry says China important for growth of Tata Group
To replace 'Dalit' with 'SC', as the Thorat panel recommends, is to be inaccurate
A commission led by S.K. Thorat, and charged with reviewing NCERT political science textbooks in the wake of the cartoon controversy, has singled out a specific word in the text for removal. All instances of the word "Dalit", it is recommended, should be replaced with "Scheduled Caste" (SC). The blogosphere is rife with speculation on the motivation for this move, and with heated debate on the politics of naming that attend the terms to identify these members of Indian society: from untouchable to Harijan to Dalit. But there is a more prosaic matter that should first concern us here: accuracy.
"SC" and "Dalit" simply refer to different sets of people. Where "Dalit" refers to all those Indians, past and present, traditionally regarded as outcasts and untouchable, "SC" is a modern governmental category that explicitly excludes Christian and Muslim Dalits. For the current version of the President's Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order, which tells us who will count as SC for the purposes of constitutional and legal protections, is entirely unambiguous: "no person who professes a religion different from the Hindu, the Sikh or the Buddhist religion shall be deemed to be a member of a Scheduled Caste."
This was not always the case. The SC category was first created in 1935 to specify a subcategory of the "depressed classes" — a portmanteau term that referred to "untouchables" most often, but in British colonial usage also included those who were then called "hill tribes" and "criminal tribes"— who were to be listed, or "scheduled" as the beneficiaries of more comprehensive state provisions. The British made welfare provisions for all castes traditionally treated as untouchable, irrespective of whether those castes chose to call themselves Hindu or to follow Buddhism, Christianity or Islam. It was only under Congress rule, in 1950, that the President's Order explicitly defined SC on the basis of religious criteria, although Christian Dalits were excluded from SC for electoral purposes by the Government of India Act 1935. From that point onwards, Dalits who had converted out of Hinduism lost not only reservations, but also, after 1989, protection under the Prevention of Atrocities Act. Later, SC was expanded to include Sikh and Buddhist Dalits, but official discrimination against Muslim and Christian Dalits remains.
- 'Sophisticated' Indian cyberattacks targeted Pak military sites: Report
- Talkative Li quoted Weber, Hegel, Jobs, said PM is large-hearted
- Bihar food corp ends up with chaff as rice worth Rs 535 cr vanishes from mills
- In 7 lucrative minutes on May 9, Sreesanth bowled 6 balls, bookie made Rs 2.5 cr
- India and China ask border envoys to work on more steps
- Former Ranji player among 3 more held