Union Minister K.H. Muniyappa has exhorted Dalit entrepreneurs to make best use of the schemes and support systems of the government as they embark on a mission to make their mark as captains of industry.

At the first annual meet of the Dalit India Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s (DICCI) Karnataka chapter here on Sunday, Mr. Muniyappa said he was enthused by the charter of the DICCI which aims to transform Dalits as job givers and not merely job takers. It is also the DICCI’s stated position that Dalits should stop seeking affirmative action and State support.

He said that while there was nothing wrong with this sort of entrepreneurial zeal, the DICCI should not completely ignore the present support structures put in place by the government. Speaking in his capacity as the Union Minister of State for Micro Small and Medium Enterprises, Mr. Muniyappa reminded the delegates that the government offers soft as well as interest-free loans for Dalit entrepreneurs.

He said that as part of the Union government’s financial inclusion project, Canara Bank had been identified as the Lead Bank in Karnataka to disburse loans and other financial support to marginalised sections of society.

He also said there was a great thrust on Karnataka’s aerospace industry. “Right now, over 90 per cent of all aircraft components are being imported. That is why we have set up the Aerospace Park at Devanahalli [near Bangalore],” he said. He said that the setting up of the park presents a huge opportunity for Indian entrepreneurs in this indigenisation drive. “Why should Dalit entrepreneurs not make use of this golden opportunity? The government is more than willing to help them enter this high-tech sector,” he reiterated in a discussion with reporters on the sidelines of the event.

Earlier, DICCI chairman Milind Kamble lauded Karnataka’s efforts in promoting the business class among Dalits. He said Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka were the two States in the country which had achieved great progress in this area. “Karnataka has the second largest number of Dalit industrialists in the country,” he said.

UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani, who was the guest of honour, lauded the vision of the DICCI. “The market is one of the few places which is blind to narrow concerns such as caste and community. The market’s only parameter is quality,” he said.

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