They work towards becoming job-givers, not reservation-seekers
At a time when there is concern over Dalits still remaining backward despite reservation, a new class of Dalits are making the grade. A well-educated, self-believing new generation has emerged to become employers rather than reservation-seekers. What has triggered such an ambition is their self-esteem that has created an urge to prove that “we are no way inferior”, besides aspiring to lead a quality life.
This was evident when the Karnataka chapter of Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industries (DICCI) was launched by a group of enterprising Dalits to help their community members think beyond reservation, by starting their own business enterprises in Bangalore on Sunday.
Around 150 aspiring Dalit entrepreneurs clad in suites turned up in corporate style at the launch, organised at a star hotel, providing a perfect ambience for their corporate dreams to take wing.
DICCI founder Milind Kamble, who is a successful entrepreneur running a business with an annual turnover of about Rs. 70 crore, explained that the national body that is headquartered in Pune was set up on April 14, 2005 — the birth anniversary of Dalit icon B.R. Ambedkar — to promote Dalit entrepreneurship as a solution for their historic socio-economic problems.
The DICCI works to remove barriers for Dalit business promotion by helping aspiring entrepreneurs to help set up their business ventures, besides providing critical inputs to the existing Dalit enterprises for further growth. The main idea is to bring together all Dalit entrepreneurs under one umbrella to strive for economic inclusion among Dalits, he said.
A powerful tool
“No Dalit icon is a product of reservation,” he told the aspiring Dalit entrepreneurs by pointing out that stalwarts like Ambedkar made it big without any support. Terming Dalit entrepreneurship “Dalit capitalism”, he stressed the need for using this as a powerful tool for fighting caste-based discrimination.
He said the organisation had a presence in 18 States with 2,500 entrepreneurs whose combined annual turnover runs to Rs. 20,000 crore. This has given direct employment to about five lakh persons and indirect employment to 10 lakh persons.
While other corporate houses have Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), the DICCI has Dalit Social Responsibility (DSR) under which efforts are made to help bright Dalit students pursue courses like the IIT, by providing them free two-year residential PU education. Raja Nayak is the president of Karnataka unit of the DICCI.
Speaking on the occasion, Small-scale Industries Minister Narasimha Naik urged them to make use of the industrial infrastructure facilities in the State. He expressed concern that not many Dalits were coming forward to accept reservation benefits available to them for starting industrial enterprises. They are eligible for a 20 per cent subsidy under such a scheme.
DICCI mentor Chandra Bhan Prasad and representatives from various States spoke on the occasion.
Editor's Note: In some editions of The Hindu, this story ran with an inappropriate headline.