Sunday, October 28, 2012

“Can entrepreneurship create social transformation in India: notes from the story of Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry”

Basic initial readings on the view points posed by Karl Marx presents capitalism as a system which doesnot  lead to social transformation through distribution of wealth to the marginal sections of the society. Such a lack of distribution maintains a class divide between the have and have nots of the society. Therefore wealth and profits generated by production of goods and services using labour of the marginal segments (proletariats) of the society are not transferred back to them who provides their labour for the capitalist who produces goods and services and creates wealth. So the essence of this system named as capitalism believes in exploitation of the labour and persistence of this proletariat class for their profit generation. This in a way doesnot allow this marginal class of people to come up the ladder. Till few weeks back, these notions were well encrypted in my mind and I was fine with these ideas. But then, I came across a term called “Dalit Capitalism” and everything got jumbled up. I was lost in understanding what “Dalit Capitalism” is all about.
Moreover, I also read about the formation of Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in India in 2005. Further based on readings from some of the news items, I came to know that in India there are 30 Dalit Millionaires who have been listed and recognized by Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. India which has large number of people below the poverty line, two billionaires (who comes in the list of top 10 billionaires of the world) also now has millionaires from Dalits. Moreover, the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is promoting entrepreneurship amongst people from Dalits. Some papers by Indian Institute of Dalit Studies are of the opinion that Dalit Capitalism has arrived in India with the emergence of Dalit millionaires and their recognition being given by the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. I cannot say whether this is “Dalit capitalism” or not as the way these entrepreneurs are functioning needs to be observed over a certain point of time before such conclusion are drawn by comparing their functioning mode with the capitalist system that was put forth by Marx.

However, one cannot deny the positive aspects of these happenings in a country like India which has been a country of contrast, cosmopolitanism, libertarian ideas as well as been marked by feudal caste based oppression in rural societies.  Certainly, the formation of the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 30 Dalit millionnaires inspite of having a touch of caste identity into it announces the translation of dreams, aspiration into the socially excluded castes of Indian society. It is too early to comment on whether formation of these entrepreneurs, chamber of commerce will translate to actions that can bring forth and create more of such entrepreneurs and employment generation for Dalit with all labour rights. But, it cannot be denied that the formation of a chamber of commerce is in itself a step towards creating institutionalization of a process that can ascertain economic rights to people from the Dalit group and can ensure their employment generation.

Some recent work done by few social scientists from Harvard and University of British Columbia in this regard shows that the wage gap between the labourers from Dalit and other groups of the society is gradually reducing in India. Now, whether it is because of these Dalit entrepreneurs, the Chamber of Commerce is yet to be assessed. However, there are many promising and aspiring trends that are happening within the country that shows that there is some positive social transformation of Dalits which are happening within the country. I really do not know whether this can be called as a “Dalit Capitalism”.
It is quite premature to coin that term before having a substantial empirical evidence of the entire system in which the Dalit entrepreneurs are operating. The future will indicate further in which direction these entrepreneurs are moving. They can move towards a larger capitalist system or can bring in more social transformation of Dalits by reducing wage gaps, giving Dalits employment, economic rights. No matter, whatever is the outcome, one has to accept that the aspiration of creating and owning wealth by marginalized sections of the society has sparked on within India. Nature of the momentum of this wealth creation and its expansion to wider sections of the marginalized sections of the society will determine whether a social transformation will take place or not in future.

Uncertainty is one of essential facets of future. But, such a facet cannot stop us from dreaming that in future this expansion will happen and a social transformation will take place in our country. At that point of time, may be the name of “Dalit India Chamber of Commerce and Industry” will shed off  the word showing the caste identity owing to the transformation that will bring up the marginal castes to the mainstream of the society.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Can South South Cooperation create convergence? An insight

South South cooperation is often seen as an outcome of the interaction process between international education, international cooperation, relations and development. Development practitioners often quote the word cooperation and transfer in an interchangeable way though in the discourse of south south knowledge exchange the two words have different interpretations. The question to ask is whether south south cooperation leads to convergence in the education systems of the partners in the cooperation.

There is no one time static answer to this because convergence is a dynamic evolutionary concept. Scholars like Gita Steiner Khamsi suggests that convergence will require an application of the learning from the reforms of other countries into the domestic boundaries of another which has a totally different set of political, administrative and institutional setting. The need to apply can arise from external as well as country specific factors which otherwise would not have happened. A successful implementation of the learnings will need a continuous policy and institutional nudging through an interdisciplinary mode. It will also require the diffusion of the learnings and knowledge from reforms in other educational systems of other partner countries and its reapplication over the years in another country. This mechanismof learning and reapplication in different settings is quite evolutionary and will take some time to understand before it leads to an outcome that becomes an international benchmark. In order to arrive at the understanding of this process it will require continuous interdisciplinary thinking and may be in a ten years time one can come up with an understanding of a particular educational system convergence example through "South South" knowledge exchange process. Till then a continuous debate,documentation and exchange should happen in an interdisciplinary form. Therefore the time is to act now before it becomes late for ever to create a harmonised converged entity of "Global South"!