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The Steadfast Friend that’s Helping Telangana’s Dalits Become Owners of Enterprises

IAS officer R.V. Karnan, the DM of Karimnagar, Telangana, is prioritising and speeding up the implementation of the Dalit Bandhu Scheme.The Dalit Bandhu scheme is considered to be the world’s largest direct benefit transfer scheme and it has greatly empowered the Dalit community of Telangana. Because of sustained efforts, the Karimnagar district has been able to achieve a success rate of 95 per cent.
Indian Masterminds Stories

Only eight years into its birth and the state of Telangana has shown impressive growth, while a slew of welfare measures has immensely benefited the general population.

The latest in the welfare measures is a scheme for Dalits, called the ‘Dalit Bandhu Scheme’, which was launched to take Dalit families from their present situation to higher levels. 

The Karimnagar District, under the leadership of its DM, R.V. Karnan, has been at the forefront of implementing this scheme in the Huzurabad Assembly constituency, resulting in a success rate of 95 per cent. 

In an exclusive conversation with Indian Masterminds, Mr. Karnan shared details about the successful implementation of the scheme in his district.

IAS officer R.V. Karnan

DALIT BANDHU SCHEME

Even after 75 years of Independence, Dalits continue to face social and economic hardships. To alleviate their conditions, the CM of Telangana held a brainstorming session with several leaders and economists, and the outcome was the announcement of the Dalit Bandhu scheme in 2021.

The programme calls for providing each Dalit household with the one-time financial assistance of Rs. 10 lakhs. They were expected to launch a business or acquire a piece of property that generates ongoing income. Telangana has 17 lakh Dalit families, while Huzurabad, where the scheme was first introduced, has 19,000 Dalit households. The government decided to gradually cover all Dalit families with an annual budget of Rs. 30,000 to 40,000 crores. 

Private teacher turned entrepreneur, Marumulla Tirupathi of Jammikunta, gave up his tiresome and unremunerative job to become an entrepreneur

Explaining in detail, Mr. Karnan said, “It started as a pilot project in our district where we provided around 18,000 Dalit families with Rs. 10 lakhs. This money was transferred to the special Dalit Bandhu bank accounts of each family. The main feature is that, neither can they withdraw cash from these accounts, nor can they use ATM or Net Banking, but they can transfer money to third parties with our approval.” 

Whenever someone files a plan for a small business or industrial setup, the administration approves it, and the funds get transferred to the third party selling the machinery, car, or equipment. Additionally, it allows the administration to monitor the funding allocated for their well-being. 

Sriram Ramesh and Malta Srikanth pooled their money and set up their own “Health Care Pharmacy” medical shop near the Huzurabad bus stand. They have also employed three more workers.

ASSISTING WITH VOCATIONS 

The Dalit community was encouraged by the district administration to take advantage of the programme and put their lives on track. They were counselled and informed of the significance of the plan and how it will assist them in building a better future for themselves, during a training programme organised especially for them.

Over 95 different professions were chosen as part of the programme, and these are approved based on the skills of the beneficiaries. Women chose to open computerised sewing units, beauty salons, and grocery stores, among other things, while some chose to buy tractors and harvesters, milch animals, or both. The administrators made every effort to create group units so that the plan could be sustained through shared accountability.

“We have covered over 90 per cent of the community and are proud to claim that we achieved a 95 per cent success rate. We began in Aug 2021, and today, we have completed the grooming of all the families. We have seen so many people who have literally gone from rags to riches. Once upon a time, they used to work as labourers in industrial units; today they are the proud owners of their own enterprises. They are providing wage employment to others as well,” Mr. Karnan told Indian Masterminds.

Boddu Ilamma, Boddu Lavanya, and Boddu Elisha used to work in fields as agricultural labourers until six months ago. Now they are proud owners of this huge machine. The Dalit Bandhu scheme helped them buy this machine and earn a secure income.

SUCCESSFUL PROJECT

The project has had a tremendous impact and has thrown up many success stories in the neighbourhood. Till a year ago, people had to fend for themselves, but now they are proud owners of their own enterprises and leading lives that they had only dreamt of earlier.

The Dalit Bandhu scheme is considered to be the world’s largest direct benefit transfer scheme and it has really empowered the Dalit community of Telangana. We present before you a list of people who have successfully shifted to their new vocation, thanks to the scheme:

Velpula Sharada’s life changed after she became the owner of her jute bag enterprise
The store, named Samyuktha Enterprises, was set up by three beneficiaries of Dalit Bandhu: Arikila Sravanthi, who worked as a beautician; Budidha Vamshi Krishna, who worked as a painter; and Budidha Sammakka, who worked as a coolie in the agricultural market. It now sells all home necessities: TVs, washing machines, refrigerators, and other electronic goods.
Siddanki Sunitha used to earn Rs 7,000 monthly working as a salesgirl in a ladies’ emporium. After getting the money from the Dalit Bandhu scheme from the government, she bought the same shop where she worked four months ago. Now she earns Rs 30,000 per month and pays Rs 4,000 each to the three sales girls she is currently employing.
Thalagampa Vanaja, an agricultural labourer from Jammikunta’s Dharmaram village, was identified for the Dalit Bandhu scheme and established Gayatri Matching Center & Fabrics on Jammikunta’s busy Veenavanka road.
Mr. Sandeep gave up his tiring private job and set up his computerized embroidery enterprise, which he bought with the benefit he got from the Dalit Bandhu scheme. The unit now supports five families. During the festival and marriage season, he makes very good money from it. Three others work under him on a piece-rate basis, sustaining their lives.
Three women — Kodiguti Sharada, Dirimalla Swaroopa, and Praveen — pooled their money, which amounted to Rs. 30.00 lakhs, and bought a 25-seat air-conditioned bus. A prestigious software firm has approached them and agreed to pay a monthly rent of Rs. 1.60 lakhs for the next three years. Now they sit at home and earn money.
Ms. Neela and her husband slept on roads and under flyovers in big cities like Bangalore. They ate leftovers and survived on scraps. Having gotten huge amounts of money under Dalit Bandhu, she and her husband set up an iron bed manufacturing unit. Within six months, they were earning large sums of money and sleeping with their stomachs full. They employed eight others and sustained their families as well.
Mr. Pastham Raju of Challur village in Veenavanka Mandal led a nomadic existence, never settling down. He, along with his brothers, pooled their Rs. 40.00 lakhs to set up this iron hardware and cement shop. Today, they are earning well and are looking to expand their business.
Eerla Mallamma, an elderly agricultural labourer from Korapally village in Jammikunta, became the owner of a mini dairy unit. With Dalit Bandhu’s help, she bought four buffalo and started the unit with the help of her son Ramesh. Having completed one year of operations, they could save Rs 1.5 lakh and buy one more buffalo, thus slowly expanding their unit.
Ms. Kalavathi of Jammikunta was into the caste vocation of buying and selling footwear. She had opened a small shop on a busy street opposite the bus stop. The Dalit Bandhu helped her expand her Manasa Shoe Mart, opposite the bus stand, at Jammikunta. She added more stock and is now able to offer a variety of products ranging from cheap to costly as per the requirements of customers.

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