7 PM | Fighting forces that shackle Dalit business | 1st August, 2019

Context: Dalit entrepreneur’s opportunities and challenges

  • Industrialization and entrepreneurship development have broken the social immobility. The villages, nowadays, are no longer isolated from the rest of the country. Social mobility has increased and the people are migrating to long distance from their homes in search of jobs.
  • The entrepreneurship is helping not only a particular person but also the whole society by giving employments, generating revenue, improving productivity, standard of living of the people.
  • Dalit Entrepreneurship is an opportunity for the Dalits to participate in national building in larger way. This will give a challenge to unlock the largely unutilized entrepreneurial potential of the Dalits.

Need for and Importance of Dalit Entrepreneurship:

  • Standard of Living of the People: Development of entrepreneurship is very vital for economic activities to uplift the poor masses. Developing country like India’s main aim of economic activities is to raise the standard of living of the people, particularly the Dalit population.
  • Modernization of Dalit Society: The development of entrepreneurship is urgently needed of modernization of Dalit society because the life styles of the present Dalit society have not changed. Therefore, the higher economic needs of this people can be met only by bringing them under the entrepreneurship ambit.
  • Employment Provider: Instead of looking for jobs now the Dalit can become job providers if they get entrepreneurial opportunities.
  • Impact of Globalization: The globalization has reduced job opportunities in Government departments and public sectors in India. Many PSUs were either closed or privatized resulting in loss of job opportunities for reserved communities in India. At the same time globalization brings a lot of democratized entrepreneurial opportunities.
  • Financial Inclusion: The revolution in financial inclusion in India will lead to its next natural progression i.e. entrepreneurship. The people who enjoyed the financial inclusion now are looking for getting into entrepreneurship. A good number of people who have been brought into financial inclusion are Dalits. So it is obvious that the financially included Dalits will be graduating into entrepreneurs.
  • Advanced Technologies: Modern IT technologies like internet, mobile, cloud computing, apps, etc. are throwing unlimited entrepreneurial opportunities to all the youth, particularly the Dalit youths.
  • The IT enabled businesses like e-commerce, e-trading, online trading of stocks, etc. are giving innumerable opportunities for Dalit entrepreneurship.
  • Sharing Economy: Today the most happening trend is sharing economy. Ola, Uber, etc. are the examples for sharing economy. Under sharing economy one can become an entrepreneur without much investment and infrastructure. One needs to have only professional skills or expertise to become an entrepreneur.

Challenges to Dalit Entrepreneurs:

  • Social Capital: It is generally found that in industries where social capital (embeddedness) matters more, Dalit businesses have done significantly worse than non-Dalit businesses. Moreover, the more stigmatized the community was, the worse it performed in more embedded industries.
  • Resources: Dalit business owners — due to their historical exclusion from business-do not have equally resourceful within-community social capital, compared to non-Dalit business owners. 
  • Community networks: community networks like pressure groups, public facilities etc., and the benefit Dalit business owners came primarily from the beyond-community networks they built outside of their communities. The benefits from such beyond-community networks to Dalit business owners were not as large as for non-Dalits.

Some strategies that can help Dalit business-owners:

  • Focus on traditional advantages: In absence of access to resourceful social capital, business-owners from marginalised groups can rely on historical capabilities in their traditional occupations.
  • Strengthen within-community social capital: Dalit business-owners over the last few decades have been strengthening their own within-community social capital by forming industry associations.
  • Perform in less embedded industries: Given that Dalit business-owners are disadvantaged in industries where business is highly embedded (where networks matter), Dalits may do better if they strategically position themselves in less embedded industries.
  • Build beyond-community social capital: We also found that Dalit business-owners who took on apprenticeships (in non-Dalit enterprises) or developed larger beyond-community social capital partially overcame the historical disadvantages their community faced.
  • Market Innovation or the Opening of New Markets: Concepts like farmers market, door delivery, delivery against order e-commerce, sharing economy, etc. are the market innovations opening new entrepreneurial avenues for Dalit entrepreneurs. So, the Government has to promote these concepts for Dalit entrepreneurship.

Way forward:

  • The real benefit of Dalit Entrepreneurship is the possible change in the way in which Dalits are looked at, by themselves and others. Dalit Entrepreneurs need to believe and this could be the gentle push they need
  • The Era of Robotic work place, the Dalits want to shift from job seekers to business owners. This shows that Affirmative Actions by government and the genuine desire of Dalits to become entrepreneurs will boost Dalit Entrepreneurship in India.
  • The only long-term solution involves policy interventions that create inclusive spaces for socialization for members from historically marginalized groups, which not only includes Dalits but also women.

Source: https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/opinion/fighting-forces-that-shackle-dalit-businesses/article28779870.ece.

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