International and Comparative Librarianship

DEDICATED TO PIONEERS   INCLUDING:
S. R. Ranganathan, P. N. Kaula, R. N. Sharma, J. F. Harvey, D. J. Foskett, J. P. Danton, M. M. Jackson, etc.
This Blogosphere has a slant towards India [a.k.a Indica, Indo, South-Asian, Oriental, Bharat, Hindustan, Asian-Indian (not American Indian)].

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Untouchables strive to get their hands on India's wealth


"Bottom of the caste system, the entrepreneurial drive of the Dalits used to be stifled. But slowly that's all changing, writes Richard Orange in Mumbai @ Independent.co.uk

Stepping on to the factory floor of Suryatech Solar Systems is a test of faith. A welded patchwork of rusting scrap has been used to make a second mezzanine floor in a crumbling warehouse on the outskirts of Pune, south-east of Mumbai. Every move is followed by an unnerving boom of wobbling, creaking metal.
"This is the production line," says Mukund Kamalakar, Suryatech's founder, beaming proudly. "I started it in the last year. Before, I used to purchase panels – now we are making 700 to 1,000 each year."
It is a humble set-up – just a series of worktables and a few machines to cut and shape metal into solar-powered water heaters. But in founding Suryatech, Kamalakar – a strapping six-footer – has broken new ground for his caste, the Dalits, who lie at the foot of the old Hindu caste system.
According to Forbes magazine, India has more dollar billionaires than any country except the US and China. Steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal and billionaire brothers Mukesh and Anil Ambani are, respectively, the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-richest men in the world.
But all three of them, like 27 of the 39 Indians on the Forbes rich list, come from India's traditional merchant communities. India's untouchables, the "scheduled castes and tribes" who make up the bottom quarter of India's 1.2 billion population, are absent..." ... More @ The Independent

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