Daily Current Affairs – 22nd August, 2016Devendra Vishwakarma
Dalit Capitalism: Is it the Way to Emancipation? (Part-II)
Summary of previous article [Dalit Capitalism: Is it the Way to Emancipation? (Part-I)]
The NDA government, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has placed high bet on rapid industrialization and ‘Dalit Capitalism’ (Dalits engagement with capital) for the advancement of Dalits.
Programmes and initiatives such as –
- Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana
- Venture Capital Fund scheme
- Stand Up India initiative
has been tailored to support Dalits turn into capitalists, with an expectation that it could empower and emancipate Dalits.
- e. Engagement with capital, or what they call ‘Dalit Capitalism’, will make dalits better off and increase their economic well-being and make them less dependent on upper castes for employment.
- It aims to emancipate them from the shackles of poverty and as wage labourers of upper castes and intends to prepare them to become potential capitalists who in turn will employ other dalits.
However, we tried to analyze in contrasting manner – “whether Dalit Capitalism is the best bet to emancipate Dalits”.
There is a paradox situation – “whether Economic progress could guarantee a strong India or an emphasis on social justice was needed for everyone from Dalits to tribals”.
We had analyzed Dalits relation with regard to caste and labour . Now we shall discuss about market and dalits.
Market and Dalits
Market gives rise to spontaneous identities. But markets, after all, exist within a societal context.
Caste and community links play a role in various aspects of the Indian market, from securing capital to integration into supply chains.
Certain individuals or groups having particular characteristics based on race, caste, gender and sexual orientation are treated differently and are denied opportunities to contribute efficiently to production.
The neo-classical school of economics views ‘caste as a pre-modern social identity that discourages competition and believes the markets will undermine these stagnant identities which in turn will ensure equilibrium in the market’.
The fundamental assumption that the market relies on is that every individual is ‘rational’ i.e. unbiased and without any prejudice while interacting or transacting with others and this enables equilibrium of highest level.
However, in India this logic is quite different. In India, every individual carries his social identity such as caste first, and then identifies his counterparts consciously, based on ‘caste consciousness’, to transact business, in most cases.
So the principle of rationality which forms the basis of market interactions is violated when it comes to productivity which does not reach its equilibrium, considered the marker of ideal functioning of any market.
Capital, Caste and Accumulation
Capital does not discriminate individuals along their identities; it is some individuals who (mostly from dominant groups in society), having accumulated capital over generations by exploiting labour and other means of production, that appropriate and acquire the dominant role in societies.
Babasaheb had strongly believed that ‘acquiring and consolidating political power would be the first key to emancipate dalits from all forms of social odds’.
But after the Mahaparinirvan of Babasaheb, dalits failed to consolidate their political power and split into many groups which reduced their political significance at the national level.
It also provided opportunity for other political parties to appropriate Babasaheb and to assimilate dalits for narrow political gains.
Access to capital is multi-layered and exclusionary
Therefore, the access to capital for dalits is multi-layered and exclusionary in its nature. Dalits are largely dependent on various social assistance programmes of the government. For this assistance they are required to open accounts in banks now, and this is being portrayed as dalits’ access to capital having improved.
The additional layer of exclusion becomes evident when the dalit formally approaches these financial institutions to set up a business or an industrial venture and expresses his wish to start production with a view to generate surplus. These institutions are dominated by upper castes and perceive dalits as incapable of doing business.