May 19, 2019

Divided by Languages, United by Khadi


A lot is written and discussed on KHADI in last few days. What I noticed is no one wants to loose control over KHADI. This is the political side of it. Now see these development not from the political angle but from Socio Economic angle. It is not a question of being politically correct or not. The question here is what have we done to promote KHADI? If for whatever reason we haven’t done anything as yet, can we do something now?

KHADI is not PATENTED by any individual. This fabric was created by our ANCESTORS. Let us come together and thank our ancestors for the wonderful gift they have given us. KHADI is like NATURE. It’s like the five elements of NATURE. It is like a BANYAN tree. You can enjoy the shade when you are tired. But you can’t uproot it. We need to understand the POWER of KHADI.

The first mention of KHADI comes from Indus Valley Civilization. This civilization had textiles apart from other unbelievables. We are blessed to be inheritors of such a civilization. Despite so many invasions the fabric never lost it charm and value. There are terracotta spindle whorls for spinning yarn, bone tools for weaving, etc that stands as proof of this industry. The priest King of this era wearing a Cloak is one such evidence.

Alexander played major role in taking this fabric to rest of world. Vasco Da Gama’s landing at the shores of Calicut introduced Calicos and Chintz to Europe. East India Company played their own role in taking KHADI to Europe.

In 1891 during the seventh session of Indian National Congress a decision was taken to BOYCOTT foreign goods. All freedom fighters played a major role in promoting SWADESHI. However, it was in 1918 Gandhiji actively started building the narrative, connecting people around the identity (rich and poor) of SWADESHI revolving around KHADI. If you look back What Gandhiji did with KHADI is pure Marketing Strategy in today’s term. It had all elements of PUSH and PULL strategy, supply chain, product positioning, value proposition, organic growth and making it viral.

During his days also there was Union problem in mills in Gujrat, labor issues were there on compensation. He took side of the labors and negotiated an amicable hike in salary.

Post independence nothing major is done. Indian Spinning Mills became white elephant because of no attention from the central and state governments, union leaders had their selfish agenda to fulfill. Ones that were privately owned had little interest. If one looks at Uttar Pradesh only there were 14 mills owned by state government and all turned NPAs.

What Gandhiji once said has a lot of depth.

Khadi is not a Fabric … it’s a Thought.

Khadi Vikas (KVIC) has done remarkable work. Lot of fashion designers have also given their contribution to make Khadi polular. However, my observation is all this has been done in isolation and the strategy is still lacking to promote KHADI as fabric for all income group.

If pre independence Khadi was the fabric for protest, post Independence it became synonym to Politics. No one has looked at KHADI once again as a fabric for NATIONAL PRIDE.

Just the way we know the dates of our Republic Day and Independence Day, each citizen should also know the date of KHADI DAY. This got to be included in the school syllabus and celebrated Pan India. Sep. 19 is KHADI Day. 

According to third hand loom census done in 2009 – 10 there were 38.47 lakh adult and allied weavers. Ratio of women and men was 77:23. Over 95% of global requirement is catered by India and it is second largest after agriculture. It is a Fabric to feel proud of.

July 1918 is the year to be remembered just the way we remember 1857, 1947 and 1950. Will discuss why before I finish.

If Rani Laxmi Bai is remembered for 1857 then Gangaben Majumdar has to be remembered for the desired skill that she shared with Gandhiji to spun the Yarn. The weaver community was not willing to share the skill with Gandhiji. He had to struggle for it. It was Gangaben Majumdar who took a Charkha and shared the art with Gandhiji. By July 1918 Gandhiji had more or less set up the entire strategy. There were close to 300 trained women with Charkha, courtesy Gangaben Majumdar. The movement for Swadeshi and Swaraj using Charkha and Khadi was given a direction. Rest is history.

There have been ups and down for KHADI industry. Now that the current government has taken a serious note and actively supporting the industry, it is time we the citizens also join with our bit and add value.

KHADI was used as a Prop for helping poor, Swadeshi and Swaraj. Now it needs to be the fabric of PROUD CITIZEN. 

Though difficult but not impossible. Why can’t we wear Khadi once a week. Madhya Pradesh state government has asked its staff to wear Khadi once a week voluntarily. Gujrat state government has Teachers to wear Khadi, Manipur state government has made the same appeal.

Having said that, what is the way forward?

Though the fabric KHADI is thousands year old but if we take into consideration when it was used to give life to the poor and also connect it Freedom Movement it was July 1918. We are roughly 18 months away from CENTENARY JULY 2018.

Let us make it BIG. Let us celebrate and show the World, we are Self Reliant. Let us tell the deserving citizens below poverty line – WE CARE, Let us tell our Children, the greatness of Khadi and let us tell our government, while we Praise, Criticize, expect miracles from it, we are no less. We too are equipped to take some responsibility. Not everything is government responsibility.

Road Map

A film with leading star cast costs roughly INR 2,000 to a family of four. On an average a family goes out for four such films in a year, this means they are spending roughly INR 8,000/ year. We need to allocate just INR 2000,  the same amount for KHADI shopping, just once a year if not more.

Imagine just 5 crore population buying 4 apparels worth INR 2,000 once a year. Put this figure on your calculator and screen will run short of digits. We invest for health, life, non life insurance every year. Why not buy apparels of our choice and use it as an investment for a MASS MOVEMENT for the deserving class.

It leads to a revolution. Imagine big number across India in Khadi. Imagine just one purchase will make so much difference. Imagine making JULY 2018 the Centenary Year to repay our respect to Gangaben Majumdar. Though she had to fight poverty, she used her skill to teach hundred of other woman. She did it from the scratch. She has shown what one person can do, if the will is there. One can make a Difference.  The first step has to be taken. Today we have no dearth of resources. Can we for a Change do something that will create lacs of jobs directly and another million indirectly. It is not purchase, it is National Duty. It is not purchase, it is our small return to our ancestors. People who are below poverty line are Indians.

The fabric is Unique. We have no clue who all are involved in growing cotton, processing it, logistics, cutting, making apparels, etc. It goes through so many hands. Poor and rich all involved at different point. From cotton fields to retail shop it has crossed hands of all communities. All making same prayer. Good Crop and Good Sales.

Hence, we at 1 Ka Dum Foundation say “Divided by Languages, United by Khadi” 

Join us in requesting the PM Shri Narendra Modi and Textile Minister Smt. Smriti Irani to consider honoring Great Gangaben Majumdar in 2018.


If you wish to be part of the preparation to celebrate, do spend on small purchase of KHADI. 

Jai Hind

Picture Credit: YouTube 


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About Swati Ojha Srivastava 13 Articles
#LivewithDignity is the belief in spirit and practice. Love to take corrupt and people supporting them head on. Managing Trustee - 1 Ka Dum Foundation