Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Dalits and the Free Market

Caste is feudal, the market free and equal. Correct? Ask Ratan Lal Sirswal or Deepak Jatav.

Sirswal, 75, had started off as a sweeper but is now one of the oldest businessmen in Panipat, Haryana. He quit his sweeper’s job once his handloom unit was on its feet. His success, he says, came largely because he hid the fact that he was born a Valmiki Dalit.

Customers who discovered his caste origins shunned him. Banks would not give loans because caste matters to them too, and Dalit entrepreneurs are too few and far between to work the system as a group like the upper castes do.

From Dalit is a Dalit even in a ‘free’ market, a Telegraph story by Radhika Ramaseshan.