The economic empowerment of Dalits and tribals through policy reforms under the Make in India initiative is the only way to beat prejudices entrenched in the socio-political system, says chairman of the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Milind Kamble. In an interview to The Indian Express, he said, “Dalits and tribals should pursue a simple motto. Defeat caste with capital.”
Time has come when we have to work to ensure that Dalits and tribals evolve as job providers and not seekers, he said.
DICCI is all set to sign MoUs worth Rs 700 crore with the state government during the Make in India Week in Mumbai, to be held from February 13 to February 18. In Maharashtra, Dalits form 10.8 per cent of the population and tribals 8 per cent.
While appreciating the Maharashtra government’s decision to reserve 20 per cent industrial plots for SC/STs, Kamble said, “We have to come to terms with reality. Jobs in government (public) sectors are shrinking. The industrial growth is an opportunity to strengthen the SMSE.”
The Dalits and tribals with no land holdings will be the direct beneficiaries of the industrial growth, he said. “The generation-next Dalits and tribals, who are educationally empowered, have become very aspirational and are willing to take on the entrepreneurship challenge,” Kamble said.
According to Kamble, the DICCI has 3,000 millionaires, out of which 100 entrepreneurs have turn-overs of more than Rs 100 crore. “In 2001, total strength of SMSE in India was one crore. In 2016 the total number of SMSEs has multiplied to six crore. Now take the comparative figures for SC/ST. In 2001, the total SC/ST-run SMSE was 15 lakh. Today, it is 90 lakh. The SC/STs account for 15 per cent of the total SMSE sector in the country,” he said.
The DICCI chairman believes Make in India can offer solutions to the agriculture sector, on which almost 50 to 55 per cent of the population is dependent. He said, “When we talk of foreign investment in the food or textile sector, its beneficiaries will be farmers and farm labourers.” However, the government will have to come out with an integrated policy for that, he said.
Dismissing apprehensions raised in some quarters that Make in India would be industry-focussed and would ignore agriculture, Kamble said, “It is illogical. If the textile sector grows, benefits will trickle down to farmers who cultivate the cotton.” Similarly, industrial growth helps to grow and sustain SMSEs, he said.
“In 1952, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, in his first election manifesto released under the banner of SC Federations, talked about corporation farming as a must,” Kamble said. Ambedkar warned that the present farming model with small landholdings and disintegrating families would not be affordable in the long run. He had clearly said, ‘We cannot afford farming. We will have to bring mechanisation and modernisation to evolve a new model that would being cost down and higher productio’,” the DICCI chairman said.
DICCI, with presence in almost 18 states across India, has been working to promote entrepreneurship amongst the backwards castes. Kamble said, “In the past decade, there has been visible change, with the generation-next no longer willing to be at the mercy of the political system. From Maharashtra to West Bengal, the mood among the Dalits and tribals is to attain self reliance.” The new-age Dalits and tribals are aware that economic well-being can provide them not only financial, but also social security, as it elevates their stature in society, Kamble said.