Tiffin Talk: "The caste system and women entrepreneurs in India" by Dr Roshni Narendran

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13 June 2013 12:45 pm

Over the last few decades, India has gained popularity across the world. A hallmark of Indian society is the caste system. Although caste based discrimination is prohibited, caste still can be perceived by many as a surrogate variable in determining the socio-economic status of the people.  However, before discussing the caste system, it is important to briefly review the genesis of the caste system as the evolution of the caste system is highly debated and controversial. The caste system was considered to be unfavorable in empowering the underprivileged; thus government introduced policies and reforms. The question is how significant is caste in contemporary Indian society, especially when we add the gender variable. From the study I conducted on women entrepreneurs in Kerala, India, evinced the role of caste in their entrepreneurial activities.  Some of the barriers, especially financial, were more evident among the lower caste compared to their upper caste counterparts. Although, government policies were implemented to avoid such caste based discrimination, women entrepreneurs from certain castes depicted to run viable businesses compared to their counterparts. A key finding of this study is that the entrepreneurial performance of lower castes differs from that of upper castes.

About the Lecturer:

Dr Roshni Narendran recently joined the School of Management and Marketing, University of Wollongong as a Lecturer in Management. Prior to this, she worked for an organisation that undertakes projects in restructuring of public sector units in Kerala, India. This motivated her to research the problems with government policies. Dr Narendran completed her doctoral studies at the University of Newcastle, Australia. The title of her PhD thesis was Factors influencing Female Entrepreneurship Growth in Developing Economies-An Enquiry into the Kerala Experience. This thesis was awarded the 2009 Research Higher Degree Excellence award from the University of Newcastle. Even though, her PhD research was on women entrepreneurs, she has been fortunate to teach topics on Organisational analysis, Ethics, and Marketing. Dr Narendran’s research interest is in exploring the cultural differences among small business managers.