Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday assured the Dalit community that the government is committed towards their financial inclusion and social empowerment. As someone who has experienced social discrimination, the Prime Minister said his government’s priority is to strengthen those who are at the bottom of the social pyramid.
“You have a friend in Delhi,” Modi stated while speaking at the 10th anniversary of the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI).
The Prime Minister’s comments come at a time when his party -- the BJP -- has come under sharp attack for being anti-Dalit and anti-reservation. Ahead of the state assembly polls in Bihar, the BJP-led NDA faced severe criticism for being seen as anti-quota, with the RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat’s comments on the reservation system being perceived as anti-Dalit.
The party has also been accused of trying to appropriate Dr. Ambedkar and his legacy.
Even as the party refutes the charge, Modi on Tuesday paid tributes to Ambedkar, the architect of the constitution, by saying not many know that he was an accomplished economist too and that in his ideas lie answers to India’s economic problems.
Modi also addressed the community as one of his own when he said he understood what social discrimination is as an OBC citizen of the country.
Making a reference to several instances of discrimination against Dalits, including not being allowed to ride horses during wedding processions, Modi said, “When someone (from a lower caste) wore good clothes, it was not appreciated. That feeling persists till date, but we have to move ahead and it is the government’s responsibility to see that Dalits move ahead. Your strength motivates me.”
He referred to the government’s plan for financial and social empowerment of the Dalits and said that it is regrettable that while it was Babasaheb Ambedkar who envisaged the Reserve Bank, when it comes to seeking loans, Dalits face an arduous task. Modi said financial inclusion is at the core of the government’s and it wants to “create job-creators, not job-seekers”.
He said, so far 80 lakh people have received loans from banks under the Prime Minister Mudra Yojna, without the guarantee of a single rupee and most of these are Dalits, OBCs and STs and women.
The emergence of Dalits as entrepreneurs who add crores to the government’s tax reserves and offer jobs to millions is an inspiration for all as well as a tribute to BR Ambedkar he said.
“Babasaheb rightly said that industrialisation will give maximum benefit to our Dalit sisters and brothers for they have no land. Our government is your government. We are working for your empowerment,” he said.