For the village in Iran, see Harijan, Iran.

'Harijan' (Hindustani: हरिजन (Devanagari), ہریجن (Nastaleeq); translation: "Child of Hari/Vishnu") is a term popularized by Indian revolutionary leader Mahatma Gandhi for referring to Dalits, traditionally considered to be Untouchable. However the euphemism is now regarded as condescending by many,[1] with some Dalit activists calling it insulting.[2] As a result, the Government of India and several state governments forbid or discourage its use for official purposes.[3]

Though Gandhi popularized the term harijan, it was coined by the Gujarati poet-saint Narasimha Mehta.[4][5] According to other source the medieval devotional poet Gangasati used the term to refer to herself during the Bhakti movement, a period in India that gave greater status and voice to women while challenging the legitimacy of caste. Gangasati lived around the 12th-14th centuries and wrote in the Gujarati language.[6]

Harijans newspaper

Harijan, Mohandas Gandhi's publication

Gandhi started publishing a weekly journal of the same name on 11 February 1932 from Yerwada Jail during British rule.[7] He created three publications: Harijan in English (from 1933 to 1948), Harijan Bandu in Gujarati,[8] and Harijan Sevak in Hindi.[9] These newspapers found Gandhi concentrating on social and economic problems, much as his earlier English newspaper, Young India, had done from 1919 to 1932.[10]

See also


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  1. Jenkins, Laura Dudley (November 2003). "Another "People of India" Project: Colonial and National Anhropology". The Journal of Asian Studies. Association for Asian Studies. 62 (4): 1143–1170. doi:10.2307/3591762. JSTOR 3591762. (subscription required (help)).
  2. "Use of word `Harijan' objected". The Hindu. 27 September 2003. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  3. "Government bans use of word Harijan". Indian Express. 15 January 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2015.
  4. "Origin of name 'Harijan'". mkgandhi.org. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
  5. B. N. Srivastava (1997). Manual Scavenging in India: A Disgrace to the Country. Concept Publishing Company. p. 15. ISBN 9788170226390.
  6. "The Sacred and Profane in the Bhakti Religious Tradition." Women Writing in India, vol 1. Tharu & Lalita, eds. Feminist Press at CUNY, 1993.
  7. Archives of Harijan 11 February 1933
  8. Harijan Bandu
  9. Harijan Sevak
  10. Gandhi As A Journalist


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