Livery of freedom

Spin­ning an eco­nomic move­ment through a hum­ble wheel that had spun the spirit of freedom move­ment.

Alive - - News - by Dr Shri Nath Sa­hai

Khadi is not sim­ply a cloth, but a con­cept. It was an in­te­gral part of In­dia’s freedom strug­gle, since Gand­hiji made khadi a ‘weapon’, to rev­o­lu­tionise the vil­lage econ­omy. Khadi was named ‘livery of freedom’. Nelson Man­dela said, “Gand­hiji sought to free the in­di­vid­ual from his alien­ation from the ma­chine and to re­store moral­ity to the pro­duc­tion process” by his spin­ning wheel and home­spun khadi.

Gandhi’s lap­top: Gandhi brought the charkha into larger use, with his teach­ings to achieve peo­ple’s

“Katabi charkha sa­jan tuhun kat Mil­i­hen ehi se Su­raj” (I shall spin charkha, you also spin, O Dear Hubby. This will give us swaraj (in­de­pen­dence)).

self-suf­fi­ciency. A small por­ta­ble, hand chan­nel wheel (ear­lier shape) was con­sid­ered ideal for spin­ning cot­ton and other fi­bres. It was also in­cluded in the ear­lier ver­sion of the flag of In­dia. So it oc­cu­pied a cen­tral place in the freedom strug­gle — both as a tool and sym­bol of the freedom move­ment.

Post-in­de­pen­dence, khadi re­ceived at­ten­tion at the gov­ern­ment level. Af­ter the All In­dia Bunkar Sangh was set up in 1925 and fol­lowed by the All In­dia Gramodyog Sangh in 1934, the All In­dia Khadi Gramodyog Man­dal was es­tab­lished in 1953, un­der the min­istry of com­merce.

Later, in 1957, the Khadi and Gramodyog Ayog (Khadi and Vil­lage In­dus­tries Com­mis­sion or KVIC) came into ex­is­tence. Since then, the Ayog has de­vel­oped a wide network all over the coun­try and is working through more than 5,000 reg­is­tered or­gan­i­sa­tions (non-gov­ern­ment) and nearly 10,000 re­tail sale cen­tres to sell the Khadi Gramodyog prod­ucts.

The Ayog has three ba­sic aims: (1)

To es­tab­lish the Khadi Udyog as a cot­tage in­dus­try to cre­ate op­por­tu­ni­ties for em­ploy­ment, (2) To man­u­fac­ture such prod­ucts as will get the mar­ket for sale and (3) To make the max­i­mum num­ber of peo­ple self-de­pen­dent, con­nect­ing them with em­ploy­ment through Khadi Gramodyog. The Ayog con­ducts its schemes and pro­grammes with the grants and aids of gov­ern­ments – Cen­tral and states.

Women Self-Em­ploy­ment:

Khadi Udyog needs small cap­i­tal in­vest­ment. Even for the low-in­come peo­ple it is a prof­itable work. While as­sur­ing am­ple scope of em­ploy­ment, it en­sures to build up the econ­omy of the poor peo­ple, es­pe­cially women of the vil­lages who have enough spare time but no work to do.

Non-agri­cul­tural en­gage­ment:

In the ru­ral ar­eas, peo­ple are mi­grat­ing to non-agri­cul­tural en­gage­ments, as the pos­si­bil­i­ties of em­ploy­ment are get­ting re­duced with the use of ma­chines in agri­cul­ture. Here, the con­tri­bu­tion of the non-agri­cul­ture sec­tor in the econ­omy has reached nine per cent. Nearly 18 per cent of the coun­try’s to­tal work­force and 25 per cent of the ru­ral work­force be­long to the non-agri­cul­ture sec­tor.

As such, of all the fam­i­lies of the vil­lages, nearly one-third of these make their earn­ing through non-agri­cul­ture works. And to this end, the Ku­tir Udyog (cot­tage in­dus­try) units are pro­vid­ing em­ploy­ment in the vil­lages.

These units are pro­duc­ing nearly 45 per cent prod­ucts. In the ex­port bas­ket also, their share is equally so. Thus, khadi, to­gether with Gramodyog prod­ucts, has a great role in the cre­ation of em­ploy­ment in vil­lages.

Till 31 March 2015, nearly 10 lakh peo­ple had got em­ploy­ment in khadi in­dus­try, of which there were 8,78,857 spin­ning work­ers and 1,46,551 weavers. The Khadi and Gramodyog Ayog (KVIC) re­port men­tions that dur­ing the year 2013-2014 (till Jan­uary 2014) nearly 140.29 lakh op­por­tu­ni­ties of em­ploy­ment were created in this area, that was 13 per cent more than the pre­vi­ous year.

Be­cause of ini­tial in­fra­struc­ture cost be­ing quite small, as com­pared to other udyogs, khadi udyog is a very con­ve­nient source of em­ploy­ment. For spin­ning khadi, one needs only a wooden charkha, some cot­ton and one’s soft phys­i­cal labour to han­dle, which can be done, sit­ting at any cool place.

It is es­ti­mated that while it needs about Rs. 10 lakh to set up even a small unit of pow­er­loom; for the khadi it is Rs. 20,000 only. The raw ma­te­rial may also be eas­ily found in the vil­lages.

The prob­lems: How­ever, the khadi udyog is be­set with many prob­lems. Mar­ket­ing is the para­mount prob­lem for the khadi udyog, as the vil­lages where these units are es­tab­lished, lack in proper ap­proach roads, con­ve­nient trans­port sys­tem etc. So they fail to catch the mar­ket them­selves and de­pend mostly on the mid­dle­men, who do not pay them prop­erly or ad­e­quately.

Inad­e­quacy in at­trac­tive pack­ag­ing of the khadi prod­ucts, as done for the other brands of rich com­pa­nies, is yet an­other drag in the mar­ket­ing, as youths and the elite class are not at­tracted to these items, de­spite sub­si­dies and dis­counts given by the gov­ern­ment to lower the prices.

Wages of work­ers in khadi udyog are lower, as com­pared to other or­gan­i­sa­tions. The av­er­age monthly in­come of khadi weavers is Rs. 3,000 only, which is lower than even the MNREGA stan­dard. The weavers feel in­clined to walk out of khadi units – the strength of bunkars en­gaged in khadi plants is get­ting re­duced these years. It is re­ported, in the state of Gu­jarat, the num­ber of khadi bunkars has come down from 60,000 to 10,000.

New schemes: To help khadi, gov­ern­ment has en­vis­aged the Scheme of Fund for Re­gen­er­a­tion of Tra­di­tional In­dus­tries (SFRTI) to set up 800 SFRTI clus­ters, with gov­ern­ment in­vest­ment of Rs. 850 crore. Old ma­chines and in­stru­ments will be re­placed, new tech­niques im­ple­mented and shared plants in­stalled, all to help nearly four lakh weavers.

The SGSY pro­gramme of the min­istry of vil­lage devel­op­ment has been re­or­gan­ised and PMEGP has been de­signed, com­bin­ing the PMRY and REGP pro­grammes, appointing the KVIC as a nodal agency.

Skill In­dia Mis­sion and khadi:

The Gov­ern­ment of In­dia has con­cep­tu­alised that while mak­ing em­ploy­ment avail­able to youths of In­dia, they should be trained in the skill devel­op­ment also so that they be­come more self-de­pen­dent. Khadi has pos­i­tive con­tri­bu­tions in this re­gard for the train­ing with new im­proved ma­chines in­tro­duced and new tech­niques of weav­ing, thread­ing, de­sign­ing and colour­ing etc adopted.

Vil­lage women es­pe­cially need to de­velop their skill for the job to earn higher wages. Also, it is youth-cen­tric train­ing for the 10th and 12th passed un­em­ployed stu­dents to start with their own work.

So­lar charkha: With the pass­ing age, charkha has un­der­gone a meta­mor­pho­sis. At one time made of bam­boo-sticks, it is now ‘high-tech’. So­lar

charkha has come up to help. Where there is lack of elec­tric­ity, like vil­lages,

it is more women-friendly as it re­quires less phys­i­cal labour to han­dle. This so­lar en­ergy-driven charkha will rev­o­lu­tionise the khadi udyog.

Jhark­hand state has gone ahead in the devel­op­ment of thread us­ing dif­fer­ent kinds of ma­chines – Jhar­craft and

Sam­ridhi. The lat­ter pro­duces 200 gm of tas­sar thread per day. More women are working with this ma­chine. From the year 2009 till now, women have earned a profit of Rs. 26.18 lakh. This has rev­o­lu­tionised the con­di­tions of women a great deal.

De­signer khadi: The modern age has made peo­ple of all age groups de­sign-crazy. One prefers to wear modern, trendy-de­signed, made-up dresses. To give khadi a ‘suave and savvy’ , pleas­ing and charm­ing look, the lead­ing fash­ion de­sign­ing in­sti­tute NIFT (Na­tional In­sti­tute of Fash­ion Tech­nol­ogy) has been brought in to in­tro­duce modern cuts and styles in the gar­ments.

Alive to the de­mands, cer­tain pri­vate sec­tor com­pa­nies have pre­pared and mar­keted khadi jeans, trousers, jack­ets, shirts and kur­tas to at­tract young­sters. Now, khadi is no more out of fash­ion –

“Khadi (is) for na­tion, khadi for fash­ion”.

Air hostesses in khadi uni­form.

MSME min­is­ter Kal­raj Mishra in­au­gu­rat­ing a khadi skill devel­op­ment cen­tre.

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