Not ‘Dalit’ use ‘Scheduled Caste’ : I&B Ministry to news channels

Not ‘Dalit’ use ‘Scheduled Caste’ : I&B Ministry to news channels

Courtesy : Bureau05/09/2018 18:46

Advisory from the I&B ministry to all private channels to stop using the word ‘Dalit’ in their reports and instead use the constitutional term ‘Scheduled Caste’ has created debate and disagreement among TV channel heads. The I&B advisory followed a directive from the Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court. 

The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) that represents private television news and current affairs broadcasters has seen opposition from members and heads of channels in the last few days to the directive. It is likely to meet in the next few days and may decide to take a legal recourse on the issue.In NBA internal mails, channel heads have suggested legal recourse. A board meeting of the NBA members is scheduled on September 20. 

One editor said implementing the advisory will be difficult, considering TV channels often play old footage of speeches and removing ‘Dalit’ from them will be impossible. Another one has said Dalit activists or academicians saw the term as empowering and want to use them. Also TV reports rallies and speeches of politicians, where the term is used, and cannot be edited, the editor added.

“Dalit is a term that has been used in media reports for long. All politicians, academicians and Dalit leaders themselves use it. It is a socially-acceptable term, not a derogatory one, so we don’t understand why we should stop using it. And since it has been in usage for so long, how can we stop panelists or guests from using it,” a NBA member who did not wanted to be named asked. 

The Broadcasters Editors Association too has taken up the issue with members and will be formulating a response this week. “The Broadcasters Editors Association is also likely to take up the matter soon. We will have another meeting after which we will decide what course to take,” a member said. 

The Centre had on March 15 asked all state and central government departments to avoid using the nomenclature ‘Dalit’ in official dealings following an order of the Madhya Pradesh high court on January 15. The Nagpur bench in June cited the Centre’s circular to say “as the central government has issued necessary directions to its officers, we find that it can issue suitable directions… to the media to refrain from using the same word.” A member of the NBA, however, pointed out the I&B advisory was sent only to TV channels and not to print or digital publications and thereby had complicated the issue. 

An I&B official confirmed the advisory followed a direction of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay high court to ask the media to stop using the word ‘Dalit’ in news reports. He also noted that Lok Sabha TV, Rajya Sabha TV, DD News and AIR have been adhering to the rule for years. “The rule has always existed. But since the court has advised, it was important to send a reminder,” the official said. 

The advisory said “media may refrain from using the nomenclature ‘Dalit’ while referring to members belonging to the Scheduled Caste in compliance with the directions of the honourable Bombay high court, and the constitutional term ‘Scheduled Caste’ in English and its appropriate translation in other national languages should alone be used for all official transaction, matters, dealings, certificates etc for denoting the persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes notified in the Presidential .. Orders under Article 341 of the Constitution of India.” 

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