Friday, December 16, 2011

[ZESTCaste] Dalit entrepreneurs meet at Bandra-Kurla Complex

Dalit entrepreneurs meet at Bandra-Kurla Complex
Published: Thursday, Dec 15, 2011, 21:19 IST
By Manoj R Nair | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA

Chandrabhan Prasad, mentor in the six-year old Dalit India Chamber of
Commerce and Industry (DICCI) laughed as he talked about government's
programmes for Dalit entrepreneurs.

"Government assistance to Dalit businesses is limited to basket
making, candle moulding and stitching dusters. This is the government
assessment of Dalit abilities," said Prasad.

When around 150 businessmen meet between December 16 and 18 at the
second DICCI Trade Fair at Bandra-Kurla Complex, many such stereotypes
about Dalit enterprise will be shattered.

Among the participants are a multi-national sugar manufacturers with
plants in West Africa, a crane manufacturer from Bahadurgarh in
Haryana who supplies machines to BHEL, transformer makers and a
hosiery baron from Ludhiana who exports his entire production of
T-shirts to Europe.

DCCI was set up in April 2005 and, according to Prasad, one of the
aims of the group is to remove misconceptions about Dalits enterprise.
"The perception of Dalits is that they are welfare receivers, but we
want to show that Dalit millionaires are paying more taxes than the
amount spent by government on their welfare," said Prasad.

According to Milind Kamble, chairman and founder of DICCI, existing
government schemes are not sufficient in a fast-growing economy. "We
are constantly telling the government to set up schemes that will
support big ventures. Current programmes are enough for
self-employment, but it will not produce entrepreneurs," said Kamble.

Another objective of DICCI which is based in Pune is to tell Dalit
youths to become job givers and not job seekers. The group wants to
convince Dalits to leave villages where caste prejudices are still
firmly entrenched and migrate to cities, or at least to abandon
caste-based occupations in the villages.

Since DICCI's last fair in Pune in 2009 when participants were largely
drawn from Maharashtra, this meet has brought businessmen from Uttar
Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Gujarat and South India. DICCI members
believe that a growing economy promises to break away centuries-old
caste prejudices.

"The market is one of the best levellers of society," said Prasad who
thinks that the growing Indian economy is going the way of
mid-twentieth century America. "There the dollar became more important
than colour. Money is becoming the primary concern of society and
people are willing to lower caste prejudices when it comes to business
interests," said Prasad.


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