There are several aspects to allowing FDI in multi-brand retail. Despite a marathon discussion on the impact of FDI in retail in the Parliament, none of the MPs said a word about how the move would affect the Dalits and tribals. The fact that most of the Dalit and tribal MPs have scant knowledge of economics could be the reason why they could not raise their voice in the House. In 1991, when the new economic policy was declared, it was thought that the existing trades and occupations, which are caste based, will disintegrate giving way to a free economy where caste and class wouldnâ€™t be seen as barriers for people wanting to flourish.
Although people from upper castes could avail the opportunities to do well in trades traditionally held by Dalits and backward classes, the opposite, unfortunately, didnâ€™t quite happen. So far the development of Dalits and tribals go, they stand to lose from privatisation and globalisation. The upper caste people, however, have considerably gained from privatisation and globalisation and goes without saying, will benefit from FDI in multi-brand retail now.
Several new opportunities have opened up as a result of privatisation and liberalisation, while Dalits and tribals have hardly gained anything from the burgeoning telecom, I.T., retail revolution, electronic media and the service sector. Can anybody give proof whether a single Dalit or adivasi has a share in any of these sectors? What does anyone say about their share in these areas when reservation appears to be on its way out?
In almost all government departments, employees and officers are retiring but no further recruitments are being made. In view of the increasing number of educated people among Dalits and tribals there should have been more recruitments in the government sectorâ€”one of the reasons why their progress has shown a dip. This situation can be understood better by an example of the situation in the Income Tax Department. While in 1997 there were about 62,000 employees and officers against the total number of tax payers of around 1.25 crore, at present when the total number of tax payers is more than 4 crore, the number of employees and officers in the department has gone down to around 45,000.
It is not that workload in the Income Tax Department has not increased, rather it has increased manifold, but it has been outsourced as a result of which both money and employment opportunities have gone into the hands of businessmen and the backward classes have suffered a setback. So far as Dalits and tribals are concerned, it can be said that privatisation and liberalisation are not in their interest. In Delhi, at Mohammadpur village, which is just behind the Bhikaji Cama Place, a survey of six salons was done and it emerged that the proprietors of all the six salons belonged to the upper castes. At one point of time, this profession was in the hands of barbers, but it has now gone into the hands of upper caste. Similarly, shoe manufacturing was traditionally a Dalit profession, but now big corporates are engaged in the business, thus displacing the Dalits. Similarly, washing clothes and dry cleaning, traditionally a Dalit job is now in the hands of upper caste people. All this has happened because of privatisation and globalisation. Management of all temples in the country lies in the hands of Brahmins. There are lakhs of temples in the country and crores of people depend upon the revenue generated by these temples. Accordingly in a free economy, Dalits and backward classes should also have got opportunities in this upper caste occupation. The approximate value of the Padmanabha Temple in Kerala is about Rs. 1 lakh crore, which lies exclusively with the Brahmins.