B. S. Srinivasalu Reddy Mumbai, November 21, 2011 | UPDATED 13:34 IST
Dalit Inc gets leg up from Milind Kamble
Milind Kamble, chairman of Dicci, spurned the easy way of getting into
a government job using quota.
The Dalit movement has turned contemporary. The new slogan is - Fight
the caste system with capital.
"Ultimately, we would aspire to see a Tata or Birla from among the
Dalits," said Milind Kamble, chairman of Dalit Indian Chambers of
Commerce and Industry (Dicci).
The spark for setting up Dicci has come from the industry lobby group,
Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci). Dalits
consist of castes and tribes, scheduled or listed in India's
Constitution as the under-privileged sections of society.
The Dalit Chamber came into being in 2005 as a lobbying platform for
the ambitious Dalit entrepreneurs. It also plans to support education
and training, entrepreneurship and mentoring in the community. It
mandates at least 50 per cent of the jobs in the firms of its members
"With this, we also want to break the general perception that Dalits
are always dependent and cannot do anything on their own. They need
reservation for jobs, scholarship for education, BPL card for mid-day
meals, etc, is the perception," Kamble said.
At the vanguard of the capitalist movement of Dalits, Kamble, son of a
school teacher from Latur district of Maharashtra, said, "Our aim is
to be a job-giver and not a job-seeker." Kamble himself is a job-
giver, being the managing director of the Rs.101-crore Fortune
He was among the few Dalit engineers who spurned the easy way of
getting into a government job using reservation. Instead, Kamble
worked with a private firm as a civil engineer for five years before
floating his own firm - FCC. He also serves as director on the boards
of two more firms.
Dicci was formed by members who have established themselves as
industrialists without taking advantage of government sops. From five
chapters and 500 members, Kamble wants to grow it 10 fold in the next
So, how difficult is it for a Dalit to become a successful
entrepreneur? Kamble said, "In his book 'Imagining India', Nandan
Nilekani explained how difficult it is for a new comer to become a
successful entrepreneur. For Dalits, it is a doubly uphill task. No
parental guidance, lack of capital amd credit facilities."
"Banks seek collateral, whereas we don't have land or other assets to
pledge. When I had become a contractor, I had to borrow from friends
and relatives in lots of Rs.5,000 for completing my first assignment
of Rs.1 lakh," he added.
"Quality and cost are what matters to a client, and nothing else. That
way after globalisation, caste does not matter much," said Kamble, who
has been inducted as an invitee member of the National Advisory
Committee (NAC) of the UPA government.
"Dicci wants to take advantage of reservations and grow as part of the
system to build capital and remain job givers. That way we seek
inclusive growth as against exclusive growth others advocate," Kamble
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