Mahatma Gandhi, in the context of ‘Khadi’ had said, “I feel convinced that the revival of hand-spinning and hand weaving will make the largest contribution to the economic and the moral regeneration of India. The millions must have a simple industry to supplement agriculture. Spinning was the cottage industry years ago, and if the millions are to be saved from starvation, they must be enabled to reintroduce spinning in their homes and every village must repossess its own weaver.”
Today, these words of Mahatma Gandhi echo with reality because it is a well-known fact that an elitist regime had almost abandoned Khadi as it imparted a feral look. But no more! Ever since PM Modi has taken charge, his prime focus has been to revive the extinct Khadi industry. He has been extremely successful in doing so. The tremendous growth that the industry has witnessed since 2014 has not only created jobs and boosted our economy, but also revived an indigenous art, in times where all we want to imbibe are western fashion trends. The phenomenal growth of the Khadi industry has been a rather silent one. However, it is a known fact that it has been a personal aim of PM Modi to bring about the betterment of Khadi and in order to do so, he has also requested the public on numerous occasions to adopt Khadi as a lifestyle necessity.
To begin with, the industry has seen a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious growth (Why should Tharoor have all the fun?). In the four years of Modi as Prime Minister, the Khadi industry has witnessed a 37.1% growth and the fabric production has increased by 38.30 million sq mts. In the fiscal 2017-18, while the mill sector fabric production was 2,157 million square meters, the Khadi sector fabric production was 141.52 million square meters, which was more than 6.5 percent share of the overall fabric production in the country. The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) and the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium industries deserve applause for their dedicated work in bringing the best out of the industry.
The MSM Ministry outlined many policies and programmes to attract the artisans. Presently, there are about four lakh ninety five thousand artisans with the industry and an additional 376 Khadi institutions have also been opened. If the above figures seem boring to you, let me give you something exciting. You may be wondering how many jobs were created hence, since that is what it all trickles down to. Well here it is: Around 1.8 million jobs have been created in a span of 2014 to September 2018. Here is another magnanimous figure: The average sales of Khadi sector stood at Rs 914.07 crore between 2004 and 2014. This increased by a whopping 100.02% between 2015 and 2018 to Rs 1828.30 crore. The average export of Khadi and village industries products also increased from Rs 87.77 crore between 2004 and 2014 to Rs 204.75 crore between 2015 and 2018. It all became possible in a span of just 3 years after PM Modi urged people to come forward and promote Khadi.
The KVIC now plans to create another 13.8 lakh jobs till 2020. The flagship KVIC store at Connaught Place has hit 1-crore sales mark thrice in October and once in November. In 2018-19 alone, the KVIC aims at selling Khadi worth Rs. 5000 Crore. It is admirable, how in such a short time span, the collective efforts of various stake holders, led by PM Modi have bared such massive consequences. We can only wish that with the same enthusiasm, the Khadi industry from India emerges as a formidable challenge to the hegemonies of adopted Western fashion. Ever since PM Modi came to power, he has promoted Khadi and mentioned about it multiple times in his radio address.
A welcome step in this direction has been taken by the Jharkhand government which will be providing Khadi school uniforms to more than 40,000 students in the state. As a society, we must strive to promote indigenous clothing and we must begin at the grass root level itself. People should abandon the ignominious attitude which they carry in their heads about Khadi, or any indigenous art/product for that matter. We would have not been admiring these facts about the Khadi Industry’s recent growth if only the party which claims to be the flag bearer of Gandhian Principles and shoots off Gandhi’s shoulders as and when need be, had taken concrete steps to solidify this industry immediately after independence. Not that it was a difficult task. Neither did it require massive infrastructure. There was no research to be carried out. Then what is the reason that nobody until 2014 was willing to invest their time to bring a beautiful industry back on tracks? Maybe they lacked something essential for running a county. Maybe something called ‘political will’?