Despite many hurdles Dalit entrepreneurship rises up

09Apr07

As a Class IX student, Hari Kishen Pippal pulled a rickshaw at night, hoping to fund his education after his shoemaker father was laid low by paralysis. Now the 56-year-old Dalit owns a state-of-the-art hospital in the Taj Mahal town.

In these parts of western Uttar Pradesh, several Dalit entrepreneurs run hotels, own factories, even beer bars. But nobody had tried to set up a multi-speciality hospital before. “I initially thought whether a non-medico like me would be able to run a hospital. I also wondered whether my caste would be a hurdle. But I decided to go ahead anyway,” says Pippal.

pipal.jpg

Pic01: Facing all odds, excelling; Mr. Pipal
(takes shelter in Enlightened humanly cosciousness)

The hospital also employs five Dalit doctors, the entrepreneur’s proactive effort to encourage medicos from his own community. “I want to prove that given an opportunity, they can be as good, if not better than the rest,” says Pippal, who never went to college but speaks six languages: Hindi, Tamil, Punjabi, English, German and Russian.

Even non-Dalit doctors working at Heritage hospital maintain it is a great place to work. “Someone told me, you are a Brahmin, why are you working there? I told him, I am a doctor and for me, caste is not a factor,” says Gaurav Sharma.

Pippal’s journey from a single 10 feet by 12 feet home in a shabby basti to a plush home in the town’s upscale Lawyer’s Colony – ” I have nine air-conditioners,” he declares — is the kind of story that inspires filmmakers. He started working at his father-in-law’s small shoe factory with six workers. By 1980, he had set up his own company with a bank loan of Rs 20,000. “I named it People’s Export since it sounds the same as my surname,” he says. The entrepreneur admits he didn’t want to give out his surname fearing people wouldn’t like to buy his product.

The Dalit entrepreneur made his first million manufacturing and exporting shoes to countries such as Bulgaria, Russia and Germany. He even supplied Hush Puppies to Bata. “Thomas Bata visited my factory three times,” he says.

But he lost money and shut shop when Germany was unified and east Europe went through turmoil in the early 90s. He then ran a restaurant and a banquet hall successfully for sometime. “I ensured that the banquet hall was clean and well-maintained. It was very successful. The hall hosted many upper-caste weddings,” he says.

Now along with a motorcycle dealership and the hospital, Pippal is aiming to relaunch his shoes business. “My factory will offer free lunch to all workers,” he says. The group’s overall turnover is around Rs 20 crore.

Pippal feels that most government programmes hardly benefit the schedule castes due to corruption and leakage in the system. It worries him that the financial gap between the ‘higher’ castes and the scheduled castes is increasing every day. The entrepreneur believes the disparity can be bridged by providing high stipends to poor students.

“A Dalit student’s scholarship should be equivalent to a clerk’s salary. He can study only if he is able to take care of his family,” says Pippal. Then the entrepreneur adds: “The world is ready to bow before you. But you have to work hard to make it happen.”

Source:TOI



4 Responses to “Despite many hurdles Dalit entrepreneurship rises up”

  1. 1 gautam londhe

    you are the true follower of buddha and ambedkar

  2. 2 rajesh

    It is really inspiring . I think it should be always strategy against castisum. how to tackle it. As only strategy. And one who get success must share their success and strategy to overcome castisum

  3. 3 tholkappian

    Dr.Sir is the role model for other dalits to follow.Great men leave the foot prints 0n the sands of time that others to follw.


  1. 1 Os Intocáveis da Índia | O Blogue do Janio

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