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Why Khadi isn’t just a cloth, but an ideology?

When the world is talking about sustainability, Khadi could be the best option to provide sustainable livelihoods to the economically weaker sections of the society, particularly in rural India

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Today, though India has different set of challenges than the time of freedom movement, but Gandhian philosophy can tackle all the contemporary challenges such as social, economic, political, unemployment, environment and many more. Thus, Gandhi’s philosophy becomes more relevant and important in contemporary India.

Highlighting the Mahatma’s philosophy, Ram Chandra Pradhan, a Gandhian and visiting professor at Gandhi Vichar Parishad, Vardha said, “The biggest injustice with Gandhi is to see him through small and separate things like Khadi and Swachh Bharat programmes etc. Gandhi should be talked in holistic way. Khadi is only a part of Gandhian philosophy. Gandhi is actually a philosophy of making an alternate system where the power lies on the hands of common men.”

There is a need to strengthen Khadi clusters in India as they are old-fashioned and falter when it comes to dealing with demand from global markets, Parul Kumar, Member, Standing Committee CSO, NITI Aayog said at an ASSOCHAM event held in New Delhi today.

“Khadi is the only fabric which has health benefits, is non-allergic and is also eco-friendly, as such there is a need to promote awareness about its qualities especially among India's youth,” said Kumar at an ASSOCHAM panel discussion on ‘Khadi - The Fabric of Freedom & Harmony.’ Khadi is the only fabric which one can wear in summers as well as winters too.

Speaking on Gandhi’s relevance in contemporary India, she said, “Gandhi’s Charkha (spinning wheel) stands for patience, first keep patience and then move forward. With this, the Charkha brought an economic, social and political revolution in the country. The youth need to have patience to move forward. It is their responsibility to take the country ahead.”

Addressing the panel discussion, a Gandhian and secretary at New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), Dr Rashmi Singh pressed upon the need to promote Khadi and village industries to increase contribution to India’s GDP.

Talking about the need to usher a cultural renaissance to take forward India’s unique heritage of Khadi, Dr Singh said, “Khadi is more than a cloth. It is principle, ideology, heritage and a symbol of empowerment and a source of employment for the cottage industry. Hence, Khadi should be promoted.”

She also said that dignity of Khadi weavers, spinning artisans and labourers should also be inculcated in our thinking and value system.

In order to promote Khadi, Tanmoy Chakrabarty, group government affairs officer, Tata Sons, said, “Why can’t we have an e-commerce platform like Flipkart and Amazon for Khadi products? Why can’t it be promoted on social media? Why can’t employees of PSUs (pubic sector undertaking) and government should be mandated to wear Khadi uniform? Why can’t our legislators make sure to open Khadi stores in their constituencies? These small ideas can be a big boost for Khadi, thereby providing employment to the spinning artisans and weavers.

“Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) must come up with an online e-commerce platform that allows the artisans, spinners and weavers to market and sell Khadi products,” he added.

The low cost western cloths were imposed on India by the British government, resulted into the destruction of weaving community and indigenous cottage industries. Khadi, brought by the Mahatma was an economic revolution. On his call, people started giving up western cloths and adopted spinning and weaving Khadi. With Khadi, Mahatma Gandhi envisioned to bring the country together.

In the freedom movement, Gandhi’s Charkha was a symbol of national resurgence, symbol of non-violence, symbol of unity in diversity and symbol of economic revolution.

With Khadi, Mahatma Gandhi gave India its unique identity. It unites people across the country and instils a sense of pride. When the world is talking about sustainability, Khadi could be the best option to provide sustainable livelihoods to the economically weaker sections of the society, particularly in rural India and provide equitable growth. Khadi stands of patience, compassion and tolerance. With a revolutionary idea, it is a way of life.

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