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This Dalit entrepreneur wants to dismantle caste hierarchy through elegant clothing

Chandra Bhan Prasad, a Dalit ideologue, has launched an e-commerce site that provides Dalit manufacturers with a platform.

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New Delhi: If there’s one thing that can cause a casteist society to lose its mind, it’s seeing Dalits dress well, says Chandra Bhan Prasad — a Dalit ideologue.

“Manu Dharma restricts Dalits from wearing good clothes. This is precisely why Dalits should consciously dress very well to defy the Manu Smriti,” he tells ThePrint.

Prasad has long held the belief that Dalit wealth and prosperity is a sure-shot way of fighting casteism in the country. With this in mind, he has designed his e-commerce venture ‘Bydalits.com’ — a portal that provides Dalit manufacturers with a platform — and wishes to help Dalit brands increase their reach.


Also read: Why upper castes polish shoes or sweep roads when protesting quota for Dalits and OBCs


‘Dress elegantly like Ambedkar’

Prasad was born into the Pasi community, an ‘untouchable’ caste according to the Hindu caste hierarchy and believes the Dalit middle class today should make it a point to “dress elegantly,” just like Ambedkar.

“Wear leather coats, wear leather hats [and] buy all-season coats. The Dalit middle class should dress very elegantly just like Ambedkar used to dress on public forums. There shouldn’t be any excuse,” says Prasad.

According to him, the stereotype that Dalits should only be seen wearing certain clothes — which aren’t expensive or fashionable — still exists.

He cites an incident from earlier this month, when an Uttar Pradesh district magistrate made a casteist remark against Bahujan Samaj Party leader Madan Ram. Ram was trying to investigate a case of discrimination against Dalit children in Ballia, Uttar Pradesh, but District Magistrate Bhawani Singh Khangarot dismissed the complaint and said since Ram “traveled in expensive cars and wore expensive clothes”, he should not be complaining of caste discrimination.

His statement provoked a visceral response on social media and the hashtag #ShoesForTheDM began trending after Dalits began sharing pictures of their costly shoes.

“The district magistrate was very unsettled to see a Dalit dressed well because society continues to believe that Dalits should not dress well. So dressing well is also a way of playing with the mind of a casteist society,” says Prasad.


Also read: India’s caste & untouchability had a role in Pakistan’s creation, writes Islamabad columnist


Prasad’s Dalit capitalism 

Inspired by the entrepreneurial drive of the Blacks in America, Prasad says ‘Dalit capitalism’ is what will fight casteism in India.

His visits to the United States opened him up to what he terms “the Black economy”.

According to a report, Black consumers had an “unprecedented impact” in the US market in 2015 as an “increasingly educated, affluent, and tech-savvy black consumer base” has come into being.

“The biggest social revolution in India would be when a Dalit becomes an employer of a non-Dalit. Just like when a Black person hires a White driver in U.S., it becomes a sensation because of the history of slavery,” says Prasad.

According to him, the Dalit middle class in India today has immense buying power as “there are 30 Lakh Dalit government employees in India, these 30 lakh earn more than 50 billion USD every year.” His website has an entire page dedicated to “Dalits’ Buying Power.”

While some might consider the products on his site slightly on the higher side, Prasad says there are options available for everyone. “Even a primary school teacher gets Rs 2000 per day. So, I don’t see how these clothes are expensive. And there are cheaper options available too.”

Prasad also uses his social media to share pictures of Dalits dressed well, and owning big cars, to encourage others to do the same. He was inspired by the awareness campaigns of Black social reformers.


Also read: Bihar governor attends BJP-backed ‘caste meeting’, Sushil Modi says it’s for social harmony


‘Hindutva forces threatening Dalit rights’ 

Prasad talks about how the Hindutva forces are eroding the Poona Pact. He says ‘The Poona Pact’ was the first known event in the history of India when caste Hindus embraced Dalits.

The agreement was signed between B. R. Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi in 1932, on behalf of ‘depressed classes’ and upper-caste Hindu leaders, reserving electoral seats for the Schedule Castes in the parliament.

“Following the Poona Pact, mechanisms like affirmative action led to the formation of a Dalit middle class. But now, with the rise of Hindutva forces, upper caste Hindus are going back on their promise to Ambedkar,” says Prasad.

“Dalits rights are in danger today. When the Upper Caste Hindus should have cheered the fact that there is a Dalit middle class, the society seems to have become envious of Dalits,” he adds.

To fight this threat, Prasad says platforms like bydalits.com will go a long way in building a Dalit economy and giving Dalit brands a voice.

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14 COMMENTS

  1. I find this guy a total businessman using the garb of dalit to run his business. He doesnt talk about giving scholarship to bright dalit students, or housing for poor Dalits. Let’s face it showing a bunch of Dalits with Addidas shoes and making to be some sort of “progress” is idiotic and “elitist”. Does this fellow think a ordinary dalit is interested in Adidas shoes and “leather jacket”?? Indian climate and leather jacket real nice combo. Yes there is jealousy among other castes when Dalits prosper. He that exists even among Dalits. The jatavs of UP get pissed of when other Dalits they consider inferior makes it up the ladder. Same with mahars in Maharashtra who ony look at themselves excluding other Dalits like kolis whine they consider inferior. This man is only creating a class divide among dalits. Lol at other communities who are actively making school, colleges, scholarships for their communities. But this dude thinks wearing a leather jacket makes Dalits rise🤦.. Leather jackets footpath pe bhi milte hai.. But jeb main paisa nahi tih koi aukaat nahi

  2. Brand it as dalituuu very good sales will 7 ST 15 SC 30 CRORE PEOPLE sales will peek out more than AMAZON 😛😛😁😁😁😛😛😛😁😛😁😛

  3. We are neither “Dalit” nor “OBC” but spine of mother India. We are born Hindus and will remain so. One out of us only was capable to write “The Constitution of India” and all citizen of this nation abide to it. Caste n Creed is the past history which has been written a fresh in this “holy book”. Every citizen has right to wear good clothes of his choice. Luxurious life is not some ones ancestral property. The one to whom you call “Dalit” if stops his work for a week, the living of society becomes hell. He is not “kachrewalla” but is “Safiwalla”.

  4. Who asked the so called Dalits not to compete? And you drag Manu into this. There was no Dalit in Manu’s period. It is a newly coined word of this era. Dalits enjoy all the benefits of the govt in the name of backward class. For how many generations you want to remain backward and enjoy the benefits, pushing the really needy persons back?

    • Chandrabhan prasad was an MP and anti brahmin like DMK. The fresh idea is to capture market in market economy. This is not love for dalits but market.

  5. Nobody is jealous of a well dressed person.
    Please remember that racism in US and elsewhere was overcome without any quotas. It will be inspiring to see successful Dalits help their other downtrodden brethren come up in life.

  6. Is he going to sell these products at no loss no profit to his online shop. If he is really worried about dalit caste, he should give maximum profit to manufacturers and keep bare minimum profit for his social work. Surprisingly till date I have not asked any shopkeeper or Amazon or even food app swiggy or Zomato about the caste and this person has started differentiation and divided India policy. His plans may be to enter politics or something else.

  7. Has Amazon or flipkart ever said no to buy clothes manufactured by any dalit, this is a new way of marketing by this person Prasad. This is just a gimmick to market his business. Has anyone asked the shopkeeper about who manufactured the product- never ,Prasad is trying to split the nation on caste basis. Tomorrow some doctor will start exclusive hospital for Dalits with only dalit doctors and staff. Government must take action against such way of promoting business. Prasad please don’t divide the nation instead try to unite it. You will get backup from politicians but that will be vote bank politics.

  8. Nice move where many people can come under one roof n we have to organize festivals also a seperate bank to be given for us people so that we can develop more responsible n cater our needs when in financial need n we should have a separate policy for proctection of our community members.

  9. They don’t want caste system but want jobs based on the caste based reservations. Khairaat ke liye caste certificate aur vaise caste nahi chahiye.

  10. Does any shop ask for a caste certificate while selling any goods? Whether it is clothes, a house or a car… If a person, irrespective of caste, has money and the desire to own goods, he / she can go and buy. Nobody is bothered, nobody cares. However, despite having achieved a certain affluence and progress, when such person still tries to portray himself as backward and helpless and tries to avail all government facilities at the cost of brethren in his own community, it shows their deplorable attitude.

  11. If some educated Dalits are rising in the society and that too on entrepreneurial forum, encouraging other depressed castes people to do the same, why there is a hue and cry among upper castes. Comment of Ms. Pandey reflect the closed mindset against uprising of the Dalits. Please, start digesting such success stories.

    • Priyanka pandey is absolutely right Ahlavat ji. Who is stopping you not to wear good clothes. Nobody is asking your caste till you don’t produce your caste certificate. Dalit card should not be played all the time. Compete and don’t live on the khairaat of caste based job reservations.

  12. Kitna sympathy chahiye tulogo ko yaar…dalit..dalit..krk…kis e rok laga di ki dalit shud nt dress well

    Kuchh v apne se mann se bole ja rhe yaar tumlog dusre caste.and communities k against..apne talent or.potentiality ko dikhakr bano na kuchh..har baat me.dalit late.ho

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