Two Dalit youth fight for Caste-free India

Two Dalit youth fight for Caste-free India
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Two Dalit youth fight for Caste-free India. Today is the birth anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar who was born on April 14, 1891.

Today is the birth anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar who was born on April 14, 1891. Dr Ambedkar is usually honoured by the Chief Minister and top government officers in the state on his birthday. But this time round, in Andhra Pradesh, there is no popular government to observe the day.

To commemorate the occasion, a 'Run for Caste-Free India' would be organised today at 6.30am. Prominent celebrities would be part of the run. The run is being organised every year to eliminate the concept of caste and to achieve the dream of equal rights and opportunities to all the citizens of the country.

But why is India unable to honour and respect Dalits even after 66 years of independence? Stories of two individuals, Ravi Kumar and Ravichandran, points out the prejudice faced by them in the society.

Ravi Kumar Narra is busy making the final arrangements for the 'Run for Caste-Free India'. The event would be staged at 6.30am today on the occasion of Ambedkar Jayanthi, the birth anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar. To be flagged off at People's Plaza, it would culminate at Dr Ambedkar’s statue at Tank Bund. Chief Electoral Commissioner Bhanwarlal would be the chief guest. Eminent politicos and celebrities would also take part in the run.

It has been a landmark year for city-based Dalit entrepreneur and champion of the downtrodden, Ravi Kumar Narra. Since the time he took to championing the cause of the have-nots (he learnt the painful sorrow from a childhood spent in penury), Ravi Kumar has come a long way. He has now become a powerful voice of the masses who were unheard and not taken note of.

A fitting recognition for his contributions to the society has come in the form of the Padma Shri honour that he received from President Pranab Mukherjee in March.

“I have seen how demoralising hardship can be because my parents were daily-wage earners who struggled to make ends meet to ensure that the five sons could pursue their academic aspirations. My childhood was full of pain, trauma and suffering. The sacrifices made by my parents remain so etched in memory that I have always wished to do something for the oppressed classes so that they could earn a meaningful livelihood,” pointed out Ravi Kumar on how he decided to provide a platform to the neglected class.

Blessed with an intuitive mind and the urge to move up the ladder, he braved the challenges that came along his growing up years. His determination paid off when he forayed into the construction industry a decade-and-half ago. Ironically, it was a profession far away from his academic subjects of journalism and law.

“I had no money and it was difficult to provide two square meals a day to my wife and just born son. At that point I thought it would be saner if I went into business of some sort. Borrowing money for initial investment and working capital and with the blessings of a Samaritan, I had my first break in the booming construction industry. He gave me land for development, which was a perfect launch pad for establishing my own firm which is today popular as Aditya Nirman (P) Ltd. I am forever indebted to the late Rajalingam uncle, who gave a new lease of life to me,” Kumar added.

Growing at a steady pace, Ravi Kumar has been able to provide employment to hundreds of families, either directly or indirectly. After being an integral part of the real estate business that saw him get associated with Greater Hyderabad Builders Federation and the Telangana Real Estate and Builders Association, Ravi Kumar (a student leader who also dabbled with the Telugu Desam Party) came in contact with the erudition of the Father of Indian Constitution, Dr B R Ambedkar.

“I must admit that reading the books of Babasaheb has been a major turning point in my life because it changed the way I looked at things. My mindset has been reshaped to such levels that his life has become a guiding force for me, like it has to millions of others. It has also broadened my outlook because I can understand the plight of the people from a deep-rooted perspective,” says the 50-year-old, who has launched the 'Run for Caste-Free India' that is held on April 14 of every year, commemorating the birth anniversary of the Bharat Ratna.

As the president of the AP Chapter and South India coordinator of Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DICCI), Ravi Kumar is in constant touch with the people who matter.

“Dr Ambedkar's profound teachings and his call for emancipation of all suffering classes have left lasting impressions on me. His philosophy makes him the visionary that he is,” acknowledges Ravi Kumar, who organises a popular residential programme for Dalit entrepreneurs, including women, from all over Andhra Pradesh, besides striving for Dalit empowerment in all fields. He has also founded Shanti Chakra International, a service organisation that strives to develop networking amongst Dalits.

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