Profile of the Week – Chandra Bhan Prasad – Stand up for what you believe in!

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Although we admit that we live in the 21st century and India has progressed tremendously, discrimination still exists. On the offset all seems fine, but while we sit in our comfortable urban couches, much remains unchanged on the outskirts.

Apart from being barred from temples and water tanks, some even consider food cooked or served by Dalits to be impure.

Chandra Bhan Prasad was born into the Dalit Pasi community. As it goes with the ancient social hierarchy, he was considered untouchable. Technically, caste-based discrimination was banned in India from 1955. However, the reality is that Dalits continue to be among the most marginalized communities.

A fighter with India’s Maoist insurgency, Prasad stood up for the rights of poor farmers and landless indigenous people. Eventually, he became a Dalit campaigner.

Growing up, Prasad and his community were forced to eat coarse foods that were reserved for cattle and for servants. His bend towards entrepreneurship came much later. He became concerned about the quality of food after three members of his family died of cancer.

In the light of the situation, Prasad and his wife launched ‘Dalit Foods‘. An online store, it sells a small range of spices and grains, including chilli powder, turmeric powder, mango pickle, barley flour and lentils.

Prasad feels that his business is a social experiment to see if India has really transformed and overcome its biases and customs.

Today, Chandra Bhan Prasad is an important Dalit thinker and political commentator. He advocates on behalf of the population regarded as untouchable. His weekly Dalit Diary has been a regular feature of the Delhi-based English language newspaper The Pioneer since 1999. Prasad’s writings also include ‘Defying the Odds – The Rise of Dalit Entrepreneurs (2014)’.

LEARNINGS:

  1. Stand up for what you believe in
  2. Be the voice for those who are unheard
  3. Leave a social impact
  4. Don’t be afraid to be a catalyst for change

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