The naming of monuments after cultural icons of marginalized communities can trigger vibrant debates. This is a progressive act by itself to honor icons of every section of our very diverse but unequal society.
Recently, the Victoria Jubilee Town Hall (VJT Hall) in the heart of Thiruvananthapuram city was renamed as Mahatma Ayyankali Hall. Earlier, the Centre for Dalit Studies at Sree Sankara University, Kalady was named after Dakshayani Velayudhan, who was the first and only woman from among the Dalits to be elected to the Constituent Assembly.
But, such acts are also dubbed as tokenism. When the issues raised by Mahatma Ayyankali are not addressed, mere naming or renaming of a public monument in Ayyankali’s name may not cut much ice with a resurgent Dalit community. Similarly, when the constitutional safeguards like reservations are openly flouted by various governments, merely naming a university study centre after Dakshayani Velayudhan may not make a difference to the marginalized community.