Monday, December 19, 2011

[ZESTCaste] Ratan Tata salutes Dalit entrepreneurs at trade fair

Ratan Tata salutes Dalit entrepreneurs at trade fair
Poorvi Kulkarni, Hindustan Times
Mumbai, December 18, 2011

When Ratibhai Makwana, 70, a Dalit, launched his plastic renewal plant
in Baroda 31 years ago, rival firms boycotted the launch because of a
fear of losing out on business deals. Today, Makwana's Gujarat Pickers
Industries Limited, based in Ahmedabad, has a Rs300-crore turnover and
sugar factory in Uganda.

On Saturday, Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata, paid a visit to the
three-day Trade Fair organised by Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and
Industry (DICCI). Seeking a lease of life in the spirit of
entrepreneurship, the fair has stalls put up by 200 Dalit-owned

Tata made a brief address to the gathered group of entrepreneurs: "I
salute you for being entrepreneurs and contributing to Indian

"The Tata Group has aligned with Dalit enterprises since 1945. Ratan
Tata addressing the entrepreneurs pushes their morale and encourages
more Dalit youth to set foot in the business sector," said Milind
Kamble, president of DICCI.

"The factories that are run in India have a large number of workers
from the Scheduled Caste, but we want recognition too," said Shishupal
Singh, 46, CEO, Sangam Exports in 2004 and exports garments to firms
in Russia, Italy and France.

"The idea behind DICCI is to send a message to society that Dalits are
not only seekers of government protection through reservation, grants
and scholarships, but they can also contribute to the economic growth
with their entrepreneurial skills." said Chandrabhan Prasad, Dalit

When asked about the purpose behind a separate, parallel body for
Dalit industrialists, Prasad said caste is a reality. "But when Dalits
can be seen at par in every sector, their empowerment would be
complete. When that stage is achieved, DICCI can merge with FICCI,"
said Prasad.

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