The national Capital is all set to have a formal, structured group of Dalit entrepreneurs who will hit the market from Saturday to sell their goods and integrate themselves with capitalism as a form of empowerment.
"Dalit Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DICCI), which was based in Pune till now, is launching its Delhi chapter on Saturday," Dalit intellectual Chandrabhan Prasad told HT. Significantly, the launch event is called Dalit Job Givers' Party.
"Dalits are not always seekers as they are shown to be. They are also givers," said DICCI chairman Milind Kamble. "Entrepreneurship is an even bigger form of empowerment than government job quotas."
The Dalit movement in India moved from an emphasis on "autonomy" from upper castes — reflected in Ambedkar's demand for separate electorates and call to embrace Buddhism - to a focus on empowerment through access to government jobs via reservations. Mayawati's BSP was an off-shoot of Kanshi Ram's Backward and Minority Communities Employees' Federation, a body comprising Dalit government servants.
Badri Narayan, an expert on UP Dalit movement, says, "Now, empowerment is being sought through market participation rather than government jobs. But this is more a representation than a reality.” However, Kamble says Dalit entrepreneurship is a necessity, with the market expanding faster.