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‘Dalit Foods’: Entrepreneur Chandra Bhan Prasad’s Initiative to fight Casteism in India

Chandra Bhan Prasad's 'Dalit Foods' is an effort that seeks Dalit empowerment via creating acceptability and ensuring inclusivity in the society

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Chandra Bhan Prasad, Dalit Foods. Image source: www.youtube.com
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  • Chandra Bhan Prasad started ‘Dalit Foods’ in a bid to foray into food-processing industry, which still is difficult for a Dalit
  • The business is limited to Delhi for now, the expansion will be based on customers’ response
  • The website is basic one and lists mango pickle, turmeric, flax seeds, coriander and red chilli among other products

When in 1942, at All India-Depressed Class Conference, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar envisioned his “battle for freedom” and proclaimed, “with justice on our side, I do not see how we can lose our battle,” little did he know that even after 72 long years of struggle, his dream of realising social and economic equality for the marginalised will remain a far-fetched one.

Be it the very recent Rohith Vemula suicide case or the incident where 100 children left the school premises in Karnataka, refusing to eat food ‘contaminated’ by a Dalit cook in November 2015, the caste system continues to haunt the country.

India Today quoted a 2010 report by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) brought to surface that a crime is committed against a Dalit every 18 minutes. Every day, on an average- 3 Dalit women are raped, 2 Dalits are murdered, and 2 Dalit houses are burnt.

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In the light of these shocking revelations, any effort aimed at mending the already incurred damage appears to be a huge step.

The Dalit Studies Conference. Image source: casi.sas.upenn.edu
The Dalit Studies Conference. Image source: casi.sas.upenn.edu

In one such effort, Indian journalist and political commentator, Chandra Bhan Prasad, has launched an e-commerce food business under the name ‘Dalit Foods’, which will test and challenge the age-old connection between caste and occupation as Dalits still find it extremely difficult to endeavour into the food and food-processing industries.

Speaking to Live Mint, Prasad who is also a Dalit entrepreneur and adviser to the Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, termed the venture to be a “social experiment.”

According to him it is a risk taken to find out “whether there are any takers for Dalit food in India and if India has really transformed from a country where people thoroughly cleaned the kitchen if a Dalit even stepped into it to one in which people would buy food items knowing they are manufactured by Dalits.”

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Prasad also pointed out that the name ‘Dalit Foods’ holds a special significance and is “equivalent to making a political statement in a country where the Dalit has emerged as a political category.”

Prasad believes that though Dalits have come out and have engaged themselves with other communities, it is time for them to assert their identity openly and added that it was time the Dalits integrate with the society in a real sense.

While the business is limited to Delhi for now, the expansion will be based on customers’ response.

Started off as an e-commerce owing to the financial constraints, the website is a very simple one. It enlists mango pickle, turmeric, flax seeds, coriander and red chilli among the other products it sells, which serve as staples in any Indian kitchen.

“We have special turmeric which is grown in water-deficient Wardha district of Maharashtra. The coriander is from Bundelkhand. The red chilli is from Mathania in Rajasthan,” said Prasad.

He added, “The mango pickle I am selling is not like any other pickle. We don’t use any acid as a preservative. In my community too, there are some who are very poor and have thick chapatis with only red chilli and salt. Those who are relatively better-off use achar (pickle). So, achar for us, is made in a way that it becomes as good as a sabzi (curry).”

The business has been started with an investment of five lakh and is in collaboration with the Confederation of Indian Industry, a lobby group.

While the venture is small-scaled for now, it intends to achieve big by seeking acceptance and inclusivity for the Dalits.

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Facebook Rolls Out Fact-Checking News In Karnataka

Facebook announces fact-checking news in the poll-bound Karnataka

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The Facebook's image.
Facebook updates policies for EU users. Pixabay

With Karnataka heading for the polls in May, Facebook has announced a third-party fact-checking programme in the state to fight spread of fake news on its platform.

The social media giant on Tuesday partnered with BOOM, an independent digital journalism initiative, for a pilot programme that will first roll out in the southern state.

Karnataka goes to election on May 12, and the counting of votes will take place on May 15.

Vote poll in Karnataka
Vote Poll. Pixabay

“Starting today, BOOM, certified through the International Fact-Checking Network, non-partisan international fact checking network at Poynter, will be able to review English language news stories flagged on Facebook, check facts, and rate their accuracy,” Facebook said in a blog post.

Facebook has 217 million monthly active users in India.

“We are beginning small and know it is important to learn from this test and listen to our community as we continue to update ways for people to understand what might be false news in their News Feed,” it added.

Once a story is rated as false, Facebook has learned to reduce its distribution by 80 per cent.

Also Read: Want To Know What Facebook, Google Know About You?

“When a fact-checker rates a story as false, we will show it lower in News Feed, significantly reducing its distribution. This, in turn, stops the hoax from spreading and reduces the number of people who see it,” Facebook said.

Pages and domains that repeatedly share false news will also see their distribution reduced and their ability to monetise and advertise removed.

Facebook
Facebook. Pixabay

If the third-party fact-checkers write articles debunking a false news story, Facebook will show it in “Related Articles” immediately below the story in News Feed.

“We’ll also send people and Page Admins notifications if they try to share a story or have shared one in the past that’s been determined to be false,” Facebook noted.

According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, it is important to make sure no one interferes in any more elections, including in India.

Also Read: Facebook clarifies how it collects data when you’re logged out

“Our goals are to understand Facebook’s impact on upcoming elections — like Brazil, India, Mexico and the US midterms — and to inform our future product and policy decisions,” he said while testifying before the US Congress last week.

“The most important thing I care about right now is making sure no one interferes in the various 2018 elections around the world,” he told a panel of 44 Senators.

Zuckerberg said Facebook will ensure that its platform is not misused to influence elections in India and elsewhere.  IANS