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Furthering Gandhi’s Vision of Making Khadi the Great Indian Fabric

01 Oct 2022

Mahatma Gandhi is one of the most inspiring leaders, not just in India, but across the world. For us Indians, Mahatama Gandhi – fondly known as “Gandhiji” or “Bapu” – holds a special place in our hearts. Every year, October 2nd is celebrated as his birth anniversary and it is considered a day of great significance for Indians.

Known for being a great upholder of the tenets of non-violence and truthfulness, Gandhiji is credited with playing an instrumental role in helping India achieve independence from the British Rule, 75 years ago. But that alone doesn’t define him. A visionary and a leader, one of Gandhiji’s revolutionary movements is “Clothing for Liberation,” through which he promoted the adoption of the indigenously prepared Khadi fabric.

What is Khadi?

Khadi, also known as Khaddar, is a hand-woven natural fibre and is an integral part of the Indian textile landscape.  Made from hand-spun and hand-woven yarn from cotton, silk and wool fibre, each weave of the Khadi cloth is unique and signifies immense talent and experience of the artisans who spin it.

Gandhi’s Ideology and Vision

A firm believer in the idea that the essence of Swadeshi (Made in India) lies in producing sufficient cloth for every Indian, Gandhiji believed that Khadi represented the Swadeshi spirit and was a means of uniting Indians, acquiring economic freedom and achieving equality.

According to Gandhiji, the spirit of India lies in its 700,000+ villages and for India to thrive, these villages need to flourish. Since the time Gandhiji kickstarted the Khadi Movement, the Khadi fabric has come a long way and grown into a huge market. In fact, the share of Khadi fabric in the Indian textile mill production has doubled to 8.49% over the last 5 years, according to the Khadi & Village Industries Commission.

The Growing Market Scenario

Given its uniqueness and high quality, the demand for Indian Khadi and Khadi-based products has been steadily increasing across global markets, including the US, UK, UAE and Germany. As of FY21, Khadi production in India stood at US $ 225.8 million, a significant increase from US $ 204.3 million in FY2017.

As per available data, the Khadi industry saw sales burgeoning at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.2% during the aforementioned period, reaching US $ 473.9 million in FY21. Additionally, from 2020-2021, Khadi & Village Industries Commission registered a 20.54% growth and between 2021-2022, the gross sales increased by a colossal 248%.

Considering its significant market share, Khadi is undeniably a source of sustenance for thousands of artisans and merchants. However, Khadi’s benefits and role transcend merely being a source of livelihood for people; it’s a part of India’s social fabric that facilitates financial independence for a large number of people in India’s hinterlands.

Furthermore, compared to the production of other fabrics, manufacturing Khadi is more sustainable. For instance, producing 1 metre of Khadi requires just 3 litres of water, as opposed to the 56 litres needed for the same length of mill fabric. This is a major win, especially when we consider environmental concerns and water crisis in many parts of rural India.

Atmanirbhar Bharat and Gandhiji’s Philosophy

Recent years have seen an increased emphasis on the concept of self-sustenance, Make in India, and Atmanirbhar Bharat. As thousands of startups emerge, with a substantial number of them in tier-II, tier-III cities and rural areas, and India’s startup ecosystem becoming the 3rd-largest in the world, our need to rely on foreign companies and countries for products has been subsiding.

Gandhiji spoke extensively on inclusive development and self-sufficiency. Given the steady upswing in demand for Khadi and India embarking on its Atmanirbhar Bharat journey, it’s likely to spur greater economic growth and development.

The Bottomline

The surge in the usage of Khadi can serve as a powerful tool for the emancipation of rural India. Even today, Gandhiji’s core ideas and principles are relevant and intertwined in almost every aspect of our society, and Khadi is its testimony.

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