Monday, June 13, 2011

[ZESTCaste] Dalit Entrepreneurs: From Job Seekers To Job Givers

Dalit Entrepreneurs: From Job Seekers To Job Givers
The CII's move to increase sourcing goods and services from Scheduled
Caste and Scheduled Tribe entrepreneurs can bring about much awaited
by Udit Misra | Jun 13, 2011

The CII's move to increase sourcing goods and services from Scheduled
Caste and Scheduled Tribe entrepreneurs can bring about much awaited

When 33-year-old Devanand Londhe, a civil engineer from Kolhapur
University, decided to leave his job as a disaster management
consultant and turn entrepreneur in 2008, he was in for a rude shock.
Despite the economic and social changes in democratic India, he
realised that being a Dalit (member of Scheduled Caste) can still
create numerous hurdles.

Londhe wanted to start a garment manufacturing unit in his home
district of Sangli, Maharashtra, but could not find someone who would
lend him Rs. 7 lakh to start his unit. A bank denied him the loan at
the last minute, without giving any valid reason. This delayed his
plans to start the unit by a year, and forced him to sell his house
and wife's jewellery and take loans from a money lender to meet the
shortfall. "My qualifications and ability did not matter; age-old
perceptions and discriminations did," says Londhe.

In the past two years, however, he has made good progress. Today, he
employs 225 people in his business of exporting gloves to Japanese
firms and has a turnover of more than Rs. 1 crore.

Still, he faces difficulties in getting orders or funding from within
the country. It is no surprise then that Londhe feels buoyed by the
Confederation of Indian Industry's (CII) latest open declaration for
affirmative action.

On May 18, CII President B. Muthuraman announced that the industry
body will work closely with the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and
Industry (DICCI) to increase sourcing of goods and services from
Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (SC and ST) entrepreneurs by 10 to
20 percent.
Today, DICCI has 1,000 entrepreneurs as members, 400 of whom are in
Maharshtra. In 2005, when it started, it had only 100 members.

"[The CII] should have done this a long time ago," says Londhe, who
could not take up an order from a Tata group company last year for
manufacturing 21 lakh pairs of gloves because no financier believed
he could deliver to the Tata group. He feels such an open declaration
could bring about a sea change in the way Dalit entrepreneurs are
perceived in society.

"It is a significant event since it is the first time the industry is
officially declaring this," says Chandra Bhan Prasad, one of the
leading Dalit thinkers in the country. Prasad has been spearheading
the cause of affirmative action both in public and private sector. "We
started this agenda in Bhopal in 2002 when the Madhya Pradesh
government ruled that its departments would source 30 percent of its
purchases from SCs and STs." But the untold truth is that there has
been more discrimination in the private sector than in the public.

Prasad says that although there are many Dalit businessmen in the
country, they are weighed down by negative perceptions and most are
unable to grow their businesses beyond Rs. 50 crore. Most Dalit
entrepreneurs end up becoming third party suppliers in large
businesses. "They don't get a direct first party contract," he says.

"It is tough enough in government dealings, but in the private sector
it is worse," says Ratibhai Makwana, who speaks from his experience of
more than six decades as a businessman in Gujarat, with a turnover of
Rs. 200 crore.

There is another reason why the call for affirmative action in the
private sector is being taken as a watershed event by Dalit
businessmen and thinkers. "We want to be job givers, not job seekers,"
says Adhik Rao Sadamate of Sadamate Industries, as he complains
against the continuing stereotyping of Dalits as incapable of
delivering quality.

Prasad feels that while the move will benefit many young Dalit
entrepreneurs to gain a footing in business, the real benefit is the
possible change in the way in which Dalits are looked at, by
themselves and others. "We need role models. Dalit entrepreneurs need
to believe and this could be the gentle push they need," he says.

Milind Kamble, head of DICCI, says he is busy finalising a list of
about 400 members who could well be the first ones to benefit from the
CII's move.

Joint steps
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has also set a target of
training 50,000 youngsters from among the Scheduled Castes and
Scheduled Tribes (SCs and STs)and facilitate an equal number of them
with employment in 2011-12. Milind Kamble, head of the Dalit Indian
Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI), says the CII would be using
its own training centres, in places like Pune and Ahmedabad, for this

By the first week of June, DICCI will be providing the CII with a list
of 400 Dalit entrepreneurs, from among its 1,000 members, who could
benefit from the CII's move to increase sourcing of goods and services
from SC and ST entrepreneurs.


Get all ZESTCaste mails sent out in a span of 24 hours in a single mail. Subscribe to the daily digest version by sending a blank mail to, OR, if you have a Yahoo! Id, change your settings at

On this list you can share caste news, discuss caste issues and network with like-minded anti-caste people from across India and the world. Just write to

If you got this mail as a forward, subscribe to ZESTCaste by sending a blank mail to OR, if you have a Yahoo! ID, by visiting

Also have a look at our sister list, ZESTMedia:! Groups Links

<*> To visit your group on the web, go to:

<*> Your email settings:
Individual Email | Traditional

<*> To change settings online go to:
(Yahoo! ID required)

<*> To change settings via email:

<*> To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:

<*> Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blog Archive