12 April, 2021

The Other Temple Entry

Thirty Dalit businessmen have defied odds and caste prejudice to become billionaires in their own right

The Other Temple Entry

“I weep when I cruise past my village in my BMW. My chauffeur thinks I’m crazy when I ask him to stop the car by a huge tree. I get out and rest in its shade. I give it a hug and even talk to it.”

—Ashok Khade, chairman, Das Offshore Pvt Ltd, Mumbai

The tree Khade stops by falls on the way to his village Ped in Sangli district in Maharashtra, and is the very place where his father made a living as a cobbler. Young Khade’s caste marked him out for exclusion—from the village ground, the well, its water, the temple—almost everything. Education held the lone hope in this dark abyss, and Khade clutched firmly at this straw, sweating it out at the Mazgaon docks during the day and studying for a diploma in mechanical engineering at night. It wasn’t easy; there were times when he had to live under staircases because he could not afford to pay the rent. But determination and hard work eventually paid off. Today,...

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