Why Dalit Rajiv Kain is unlikely to enter the Billionaires Club

One may argue that the tendering process doesn’t discriminate between Dalits and non-Dalits. But here’s the catch. The tender document allows bidders to accommodate a partner. But Kain hasn’t been able to find one because he is a Dalit

Written by Chandra Bhan Prasad | Updated: November 16, 2017 10:04 am

Meet Rajiv Kain, 40, a Dalit and an entrepreneur. Mr Kain was born in village Ghondly, hardly 15 km from Parliament. Kain’s father ran a scooter repairing workshop in the once famous Jheel scooter market in east Delhi.  The distance between Kain’s home and the scooter repairing workshop only three km. Right from his early school days, the child Kain would frequent his father’s workshop very often.

To the young boy, the scooter workshop appeared far more interesting than the school building, the tools looked prettier than alphabets. When he was in Class 9, Kain could de-assemble and re-assemble scooter engines at ease. But then the time came for him to sit for his final Plus Two examination, and Kain didn’t pass. At the age of 18 years, the young man became a master mechanic.

When scooters began to turn into relics in the new economy, Kain shifted gears and began to manufactures ceiling fans, table fans, as well as solar-powered fans.  He also manufactured battery propelled table fans with lights that could light up a room. In other words, without electricity, one can run table fan with lamp quality light.

As months and years passed, Kain’s business grew. He bought a flat in a NOIDA apartment, married, and has two children who attend an English medium school. Kain now drives a mid-segment car, participates in community events, and is seen as an achiever.

Although a hero within his community, Kain is unlikely to join India’s billionaires club, Like him, thousands of Dalit entrepreneurs are fated to disappear into the multi-millionaire jungle,  almost all self-made first timers, their businesses stranded between Rs one crore and Rs 20 crore. With exceptions, most Dalit businesses are unlikely to break the Billionaire Glass Ceiling.

Consider the reasons that halt the march of Dalit entrepreneurs:

A Central government organization is buying four lakh low watt ceiling fans. One of the pre-qualifying criterions is that the companies bidding for the contract should have a turnover of not less than Rs 31 crore. Kain can’t even enter the tendering process. Even if the turnover condition is scrapped and the contract is reduced to 100,000 ceiling fans Kain wouldn’t be able to make the tender because that would require an investment of about Rs 8 crores.

The tender has other complications. It asks bidders for proof of experience of manufacturing a minimum of 75,000 low watt ceiling fans. Given the fact that the low-Watt ceiling fan is relatively new energy saving stuff and only big players have experience in producing that, Mr Kain has already been eliminated from the bidding process, which means he cannot participate in the lucrative tender.

One may argue that the tendering process doesn’t discriminate between Dalits and non-Dalits. But here’s the catch. The tender document allows bidders to accommodate a partner. But Kain hasn’t been able to find one because he is a Dalit. He believes that non-Dalits have it far easier.

Perhaps, the problem is structurally flawed, in that it assists large corporates in bidding for government contracts and Dalits are still new to this game. India’s economic reforms didn’t accompany reforms in Tender & Banking systems, and that not only dispirited competitiveness, but also scripted economic exclusions. It is easy to see how Kain’s march to Dalal Street gets subverted.

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  1. B
    Nov 17, 2017 at 2:51 pm
    Actually, it's much worse than Prasad says. When Kain does enter the Billionaires' Club he will suffer the tragedy of being trapped. He won't be able to progress to the Trillionaires' Club. No. They'll tell him for sure: "Stay where you are, Dalit !"
    1. P
      Promod Kapoor
      Nov 16, 2017 at 7:51 pm
      Any organisation issuing a tender has to ensure that the potential supplier should have the capacity to supply the tendered quan y within the time frame. If the prospective bidder does not have the capacity he will be disqualified. How is it in any way connected to being Dalit or non Dalit. The writer should tell us if Mr. Kain has been disqualified in case of any tender where he met the qualification criterion. That would only cons ute discrimination on caste grounds. Further, since Mr. Kain is a manufacture he must have suppliers for raw material and customers of his products. Is he discriminated against by his suppliers on caste grounds? Do his customers delay his payments on caste grounds? I think the author has penned this article just to pass time.
      1. C
        Cracky Chan
        Nov 16, 2017 at 7:46 pm
        chandraBHANGee stop blaming everyone else but yourself for your pathetic shortcomings and deep flaws. Learn to own up and stop whining like a little btihc
        1. H
          Nov 16, 2017 at 6:13 pm
          Somebody is crying over not becoming billionaire that means he or she does not have the required qualification. The billionaire-ship is not related to any caste or religion it just requires thick skin and talent to manipulate rules and related humans. There are numerous examples where illiterate also have becomes billionaire. However, the real problem of ninety percent Dalit is to get two times meals and protect their children dying from malnutrition. It is more likely that our love for capitalism may compel others also to join elite club of Dalit Malnutrition shortly. The truth is, irrespective of economical status everyone's body need balance diet to carry out the normal function and human race is still struggling to get it due to our greed of becoming billionaire.
          1. M
            Nov 16, 2017 at 5:01 pm
            Government should bring in a law according to which 7 percent of Billionaires should be Dalits and another 7 from ST community. then after few decades we can add OBCs as well.
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