Caste discrimination through language

Subversion of “lower” castes in India has been a result of the hierarchical caste system. I used the quotes when I mentioned the word ‘lower’ because how you say something differs from what it actually is. This brings us to something all of us (Indians) have been using or uttering for decades now. One of the directive principles of the Indian Constitution states that “provisions have to be made for the upliftment of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other  Backward Classes.” In this context, the language matters.

Terming people from “backward” classes as BCs. Similarly using “Scheduled Castes”, “Scheduled Tribes”, “Dalits” or “Harijans” (Though it means servants of god, they are treated as “our” servants)  to describe a particular set of people, referring to their caste, is derogatory. For example: The use of the word “Nigger” or Negro” referring to African-Americans (who were racially disadvantaged people), is considered extremely disparaging and the most offensive word in English, which has given rise to a revolutionary movement in the world.

Usage of such terms has to be stopped. Such terms, used intentionally or unintentionally or officially in texts, manuals, scripts, etc, cause harm or often, degrade people belonging to socially and economically disadvantaged groups. Having arrived at this point, it is necessary to replace such terms which publicize inequality, with words that do not perpetuate caste. However, this will not be a major contributor to abolish caste system, but will make a difference in eliminating caste system, at least in our daily lives.

While the Civil Rights Act of 1871 in the United States prohibits discrimination of African-Americans and protects them under the law,  our country needs a law or probably, rules or a nationally accepted or “politically correct” book with such words  (because, for a bill to become a LAW takes decades) which doesn’t perpetuate caste and prevents the discrimination of socially disadvantaged groups, at least through the use of language.


2 thoughts on “Caste discrimination through language

  1. India has already many laws to protect SCs/STs from criticizing by caste. I don't think we need any more for them. Probably, we need to change that law to apply to all the citizens of India, and not just few castes.

  2. To be good and to good that is the whole of Religion says Swami Vivekananda and each one is greater in his own place, we must respect each other and to have harmony of caste and religion.

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