Khadi once helped India become independent, it can make us aatmanirbhar again

File photo | Khadi loom weaving | Pikist

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The current coronavirus crisis has revealed the many pitfalls of globalisation and over-dependence of the world economy on a few manufacturing hubs. To address this, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the Aatmanirbhar Bharat, or self-reliant India, plan. If India wants to achieve economic sustainability, then it must cut imports significantly and fill the demand-supply gap with indigenous production — and go ‘vocal about local’. The genesis of this in the Swadeshi Movement that started in 1905, and was led later by none other than the messiah of khadi weavers, M.K. Gandhi.

And it’s khadi that we need to rely on again for a sustainable and aatmanirbhar economy.

A sustainable choice

Khadi is not only a source of sustenance for thousands of Indians — it’s a part of our social fabric. An economic measure cannot be called sustainable unless its benefits reach peasants and artisans. Nearly a century ago, Gandhi found the answer to rural India’s financial independence in khadi and promoted it until his death.

It ameliorated the socio-economic conditions of many villagers. Compatibility with the environment, which is a precondition for sustainable economic activity, can be easily noticed in the production of khadi. Manufacturing one metre of khadi requires just 3 litres of water against the 56 litres needed for mill fabric, according to V.K. Saxena, chairman of Khadi and Village Industries Commission. This also helps in solving one of the most pressing issues of today — the water crisis in both rural and urban India.

Also read: Yogi govt orders manufacturing of 66 crore triple-layer khadi masks amid Covid-19 outbreak

Fad factor

India is the second-largest exporter of textiles and clothing in the world and the sector got $22.94 billion from exports in FY20. And according to recent industry reports, the share of khadi in total textile mill production is about 8.49 per cent.

Also, being organic, sustainable, and skin-friendly in nature, khadi is becoming immensely popular across various sections of society, including the influential class. Consequently, the sale of khadi-made apparels and fabric has witnessed a 164 per cent growth in the last five years. From politicians to film stars, today, all powerful personalities want to spell their magic in business and social events with the sophistication and grace of khadi.

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