Ravi Kumar Narra: “Dalit Bandhu is good, but needs mentoring”


Ravi Kumar at DICCI office


Rama Krishna Sangem

DICCI (Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry) national Chairman Ravi Kumar Narra is of the view that Telangana CM KCR’s Dalit Bandhu scheme is good, but it needs proper mentoring and monitoring. Without proper skilling, Dalilts beneficiaries who are selected for this scheme may not achieve results and stand on their own legs, said he.

Ravi Kumar, Padma Shri awardee in 2014, is one of the top think tank members of DICCI for the last several years. He is in touch with the Centre and several state governments in iniatiing steps for the benefit of Schedule Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SC&STs) in the country. Formed in 2005, DICC is founded on the ideals of Dr BR Ambedkar has completed 17 years of journey and today emerged as a major commerce and industry body in India.

Ravi Kumar gave an exclusive interview to Excel India on the occasion of BR Ambedkar’s birth anniversary on April 14. April also marks month long events commemorating other social justice icons – Babu Jagjeevan Ram and Mahatma Phule. DICCI with around 10,000 members now is a significant voice at the global level. US based Black Chamber of Commerce and Industry, among others works along with DICCI.


Dalits shouldn’t be beneficiaries

Ravi Kumar who quit active politics over two decades and turned to the cause of Dalit empowerment and DICCI holds views that are radically different from those of Dalit politicians and mainstream political parties. “Dalit cannot progress  as long as they are treated like beneficiaries (of various governmental schemes). They must be treated like borrowers, so that they can stand up and repay what they get,” said Ravi Kumar.

Talking about CM KCR’s Dalit Bandhu, Ravi said: “Concept of Dalit Bandhu is good. But, it has many shortfalls. We cannot create businessmen overnight. Majority of Dalit have no business background and social capital. We are giving money through schemes to them without any aptitude and skill and training. For example, how can a 60 plus years Dalit woman can start a business suddenly?”.

Ravi Kumar said that the government should identify Dalits who have interest in business ideas and given them proper training and skilling before giving them schemes. At the same time. DICCI is working with Bihar government in a smilar scheme. There, of the Rs 10 lakh – like Dalit Bandhu – 50 per cent is given as grant while the rest as soft loan (lower interest rate). Enough care taken in selecting applicants and training is provided later.

He referred to some villages in Huzurabad assembly segment where Dalit Bandhi is implemented in the first stage. “In a village, 10 Dalits opted for taxi cars. Or 10 tractors. How can they survive or achieve progress if we go this way? There should be scientific assessment of the local needs, talents of applicants and market survey. Otherwise, this will end up like any other welfare schemes that were failed over 75 years of our Independence,” he said.

“We want Dalit entrepreneurs to be job givers, and tax payers. Not just takers. For that we must take enough precautions to see that they are not failed. For example, you take MNREGA (rural employment scheme), lakhs of crores of rupees spent over the years, but not a single asset created. This type of welfare spending is not good for Dalits too,” said Ravi Kumar.


KCR’s  liquor retail policy is good

Ravi Kumar argued for fine tuning of Dalit Bandhu, but appreciated the new liquor retail policy – where 10 per cent  liquor shops are reserved for Dalits. “This is a good idea which promotes Dalit entrepreneurs. I welcome other policies like reserving 15 per cent government contracts to SC/STs in Telangana. Every activity of Governments shall make Dalits leading respectable life,” said Ravi Kumar.


Ravi Transformation 

59 years Ravi Kumar’s personal transformation too is interesting. After making a name for himself as TDP leader, Ravi quit politics and devoted his focus to Dalit empowerment through DICCI. Influenced by Ambedkar’s ideals, he came in touch with DICCI founder Milind Kamble and others. Gradually, he rose in its ranks and became its national chairman two years ago. He is a law postgraduate.

My father Shankaraiah was a mason. He never paid Income Tax, but today, I pay Income Tax at Rs one  crore per year This is our message. Dalits shouldn’t always aspire to be seekers of governmental help. They must change that mindset. They should become tax payers and prosperous and wealthy. At DICCI we facilitate them to become successful entrepreneurs” said Ravi Kumar.

Asked whether he is interested in return to active politics, Ravi Kumar laughed off. “Very often I get proposals to come back to politics and contest elections. But, I am  quite happy here (DICCI) and my hands are full.Today I can meet any CM or PM and play a role in policy making, this is good,” he said. DICCI so far promoted 20,000 Dalit enterprenuers in India. Of them, around 5,000 are from Telangana.



Rama Krishna Sangem

Ramakrishna chief editor of excel India online magazine and website

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Excel India national news magazine is a media startup founded and piloted by Rama Krishna Sangem, a Hyderabad based senior journalist with over three decade experience in the field of media, mostly in print journalism. His rich experience in reporting for both Telugu and English newspapers and heading a TV news channel and some online outfits will be of immense use to this venture. Excel India English news magazine seeks to fill the gap of analytical understanding to our readers who today are confronted with myriad media platforms. Our online version not only offers regular updates and commentary on happenings around us, but also gives larger stories not limited by space constraints of a print magazine. Excel India is ably run by a team of senior journalists committed to values and quality standards in the profession. We urge you all to support and guide us in this endeavour. Reach us at excelindiaweb123@gmail.com