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BW Businessworld

Struggle To The Top

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Success is not served On a platter. One has to work hard for it and tackle numerous hurdles. Though this is ‘global-gyaan’ in almost all the books on management and entrepreneurship, the problems are exacerbated if one belongs to an underprivileged class in a country like India with a diverse community set. Bring together the life stories of successful entrepreneurs from such an underprivileged class and what you get is a tome similar to Milind Khandekar’s Dalit Millionaires — a collage of 15 Dalit entrepreneurs who have carved their own niche in the society by becoming millionaires and leading their own business empires.

Probably the best symbolism of the success can be seen in the very first chapter on Ashok Khade who owns two pens — one which he bought 30 years ago for Rs 3.50 and the Mont Blanc pen that he owns now for Rs 80,000. The protagonists in each of the chapters recount their own struggles with the ‘system’ and how they have sometimes benefited and how most of the times their resolve has been their biggest asset and  which has led them to bigger glories during their journey of life.

Be it the ‘Food King’ Sarath Babu who had to lie to hide his poverty, or Devjibhai who couldn’t buy a plot of land due to the discrimination he faced in the society, or Savitaben who sold half-burnt coal gathered from cloth mills to support her family.

The story of Kalpana Saroj is probably the most captivating as she sprouts back to life from a suicide attempt after being married off at age 12 and harassed by her in-laws. She now owns Kamani Tubes.

The author is careful enough to point out that of the 15, only 3 or 4 benefited from the reservation policy in place during admissions to the academic institutions or getting a job. Khandekar has interviewed all the heroes at the end of the chapters with the same set of 10 generic questions. The book is an easy read for all those who are thinking of starting something of their own.

The book has been translated by Vandana. R. Singh and Reenu Talwar from Hindi (Dalit Karodpati) by the same author. 

(This story was published in BW | Businessworld Issue Dated 30-06-2014) ]]>