Before understanding as to why Dalits needed a DICCI (Dalit Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry), let’s ask why the mainstream India businesses needed a FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry).
Founded in 1927, one of the largest business bodies of the mainstream Indian business, by its own admission, FICCI is “the voice of India’s business and industry”. With about a hundred thousand member companies, FICCI is connected with about 79 business councils globally. According to a source, Gandhiji had inspired GD Birla to establish this premier body. Apart from promoting businesses and intervening in Government’s policies, FICCI’s history is ‘closely interwoven with India’s struggle for independence’.
FICCI apart, there are so many other bodies that Indian businesses have created. The most prominent and less conservative is Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). Founded in 1895, CII is the oldest business body. In 1895, it was named as Engineering and Iron Trade Association. With a membership of 9,000, CII has 64 offices in India and seven abroad. Like FICCI, the CII too plays a role in shaping India’s economic policies.
The FICCI and CII apart, there are a host of other business organisations too representing Indian businesses. The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) is another premier business body representing Indian businesses. Founded in 1920, the ASSOCHAM with its 2,00,000 member companies plays a critical role in promoting Indian businesses and impacting economic policies of the State.
The FICCI, CII, ASSOCHAM apart, there are thousands of regional and local trade bodies working on similar lines.
If the mainstream Indian businesses need business organisations, why should not Dalits have their own business bodies? But the question is: Why shouldn’t Dalit businesses too become part of bodies such as FICCI, CII, and ASSOCHAM? Sounds good, but the answer to the question as to why Dalits should have their own business body like DICCI lies somewhere else. Let us take the case of the US and its Black-owned businesses.
As the hub of global capitalism, the US is home to the world’s biggest business organisations. Yet, the Blacks had to create their own business bodies. As early as 1900, the National Negro Business League had come into being. Still in operation and renamed in 1966 as the National Business League, the organisation is a platform of Blacks’ business renaissance. It is interesting to note that the Negro Business League predates the United States Chambers of Commerce by 12 years. This thriller movie like situation — of the Blacks forming a business body before the Whites — did deserves a separate column.
With a 100,000 members, the National Black Chamber of Commerce is the premier Blacks’ run business body. Do a Web search, and one will find hundreds of Black business associations. Almost in every city, each State, and in each area, there are a number of Black trade and business bodies. In fact, there is a Black Bankers Association as well.
Trying searching Black manufacturers, and there will be endless results — Black Automobile Manufacturer Association, Black Apparel Manufacture Association, Black Builders Association, to name a few.
Try searching Black Women Business Association, and one is led to a host of websites detailing how Black Women entrepreneurs have their own organisation. Blacks are that ahead of us.
In India, DICCI is just half a decade young. In such a short span of time, DICCI has begun making impact. The leading mainstream business bodies like FICCI and CII now recognise DICCI as a credible body of Dalit businesses. Dalit entrepreneurs from all over India are approaching DICCI’s headquarters in Pune. There are requests from several States with offers of launching DICCI chapters.
But, another question is: Why did Dalits take so much time in launching their business organisation? With multiple layers of discriminatory regimes, social issues have dominated Dalit movements. Economic issues should have been the next. But politics preceded economics. Maybe, it is logical as political empowerment is equally critical.
The way India’s mainstream society needed FICCI and CII, Dalits needed DICCI. Pune’s Milind Kamble took that call and launched a new slogan — “From job seekers, let us turn into job givers”. For good, with DICCI, a new chapter has opened in the history of Dalit movement — extension of Ambedkarism to the 21st Century.
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