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Dalits now profess various religious beliefs, including HinduismBuddhismSikhismChristianityIslam and various other belief systems. The term Dalit is a self-applied concept for those called the "untouchables" and others that were outside of the traditional Hindu caste hierarchy. Eknathanother excommunicated Brahmin, fought for the rights of untouchables during the Bhakti period. In the late s, the Marathi word 'Dalit' was used by Mahatma Jotiba Phule for the outcasts and Untouchables who were oppressed and broken in the Hindu society.
In Classical Sanskrit, this means "divided, split, broken, scattered". This word was repurposed in 19th-century Sanskrit to mean " a person not belonging to one of the four Brahminic castes". It was popularised by the economist and reformer B. Ambedkar —who included all depressed people irrespective of their syste, into the definition of Dalits. Ambedkar —himself a Dalit,  and in the s its use was invigorated when it was adopted by the Dalit Panthers activist group. Dalit has become a political identity, similar to how the LGBTQ community reclaimed queer from its pejorative use as a neutral or positive self-identifier and as a political identity. While rurao use of the term might seem to express appropriate solidarity with the contemporary influeenced of Untouchable politics, the caste system influenced traditional rural indian society by remain major problems in adopting it as a generic term.
Although the word is now quite widespread, it still has deep roots in a tradition of political radicalism inspired by the figure of B. This may be due to their improved circumstances giving rise to a desire not to be associated with the what they perceive to be the demeaning Dalit masses.
Scheduled Castes is the official term for Dalits in the opinion of India's National Commissions for Scheduled Castes NCSCwho took legal advice that indicated modern legislation does not refer to Dalit and that therefore, it says, it is "unconstitutional" for official documents to do so. Inthe NCSC noted that some state governments used Dalits rather than Scheduled Castes in documentation and asked them to desist.
Some sources say that Dalit encompasses a broader range of communities than the official Scheduled Caste definition. It can include nomadic tribes and another official classification that also originated with the British Raj positive discrimination efforts inbeing the Scheduled Tribes.
The term Harijanor 'children of God', was coined traditlonal Narsinh Mehtaa Gujarati poet-saint of the Bhakti tradition, to refer to all devotees of Krishna irrespective of caste, class, or sex. Ambedkar disliked the name as it placed Dalits in relation to a greater Hindu nation rather than as in an independent community like Muslims. In addition, many Dalits found, and still find, the term patronizing and derogatory, with some even claiming that the term really refers to children of devadasis.
When untouchability was outlawed after Indian independence, the use of the word Harijan to describe ex-untouchables became more common among other castes than within Dalits themselves. These terms were first used in by Southern Dalit leaders, who believed that they were the indigenous inhabitants of India. In Maharashtraaccording to historian and women's studies academic Shailaja Paik, Dalit is a term mostly used by members of the Mahar caste, into which Ambedkar was born. Most other communities prefer to use their own caste name. In Nepal, aside from Harijan and, traditjonal commonly, Dalitterms such as Haris among MuslimsAchhootoutcastes and neech jati are used. Due to many caste-based discriminations in Nepalthe government of Nepal legally abolished the caste-system and criminalized any caste-based discrimination, including tradjtional untouchability " the ostracism of a specific caste the caste system influenced traditional rural indian society by A.
Scheduled Caste communities exist across India and comprised Similar groups are found throughout the rest thw the Indian subcontinent; less than two per cent of Pakistan's encyclopedia of native american are Hindu and 70—75 per cent of those Hindus are Dalits,  in Nepal,  Bangladesh had 5 million Dalits in with the majority being landless and in chronic poverty,  and Sri Lanka. India is home to over million Dalits. Dalits have had lowest social status in the traditional Hindu social structure but James Lochtefeld, a professor of religion and Asian studies, said in that the "adoption and popularization of [the term Dalit ] reflects their growing awareness of the situation, and their greater assertiveness in demanding their legal and constitutional rights".
India's National Commission for Scheduled Castes considers official use of dalit as a label to be "unconstitutional" because modern legislation prefers Scheduled Castes ; however, some sources say that Dalit has encompassed more communities than the official term of Scheduled Castes and is sometimes used to refer to all of India's oppressed peoples.
A similar all-encompassing situation prevails in Nepal. Inthe British Raj recommended separate electorates to select leaders for Dalits in the Communal Award.
This was favoured by Ambedkar but when Mahatma Gandhi opposed ryral proposal it resulted in the Poona Pact. That in turn influenced the Government of India Act,which introduced the reservation of seats for the Depressed Classes, now renamed as Scheduled Castes.
From soon after its independence inIndia introduced a reservation system to enhance the ability of Dalits to have political representation and to obtain government jobs and education. Many social organisations have promoted better conditions for Dalits through education, healthcare and employment.]