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The Liberal Canon

Khadi: An Industry Yet To Bloom

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When I think about the Indian freedom struggle, a few landmarks or rather images make their way into my mind — the Dandi March, Mahatma Gandhi’s use of the spinning wheel and finally Pandit Nehru’s ‘Tryst with Destiny’.

We find ourselves exactly where we were back then, vouching for the use of Indian products and demanding a say in controversial issues and policies. There has been a surge of nationalists advocating the use of products that are ‘Made in India.’ The most “Indian” product we know is Khadi. Wikipedia defines Khadi as “a hand-woven natural fiber cloth originating from eastern regions of the Indian subcontinent.”

Although the ‘very Indian’ Khadi fabric finds its roots deep in our history, it is very rarely worn by the common masses. The reason behind this is simple — it is expensive. As of now the costs of 100–150 GSM (Grams per square meter) of the material lies at a minimum of Rs. 38/meter and a maximum of Rs. 600/meter.

It is rather bothersome to think about how we as a society are preaching ‘Make in India’ when many people cannot afford products made in India. Ironical, isn’t it?

When we talk about Khadi specifically, people argue that the production of the material is labor-intensive as opposed to capital intensive i.e. the production of Khadi is not mechanized but handwoven. Additionally, manufacturers claim that the government’s decision to waver GST on Khadi products further pushes them to increase the prices in order to make profits.

What is worth considering is that the Ministry of Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) has given the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) exclusive rights to manufacture Khadi. This means that Khadi products are available in certified stores, thus not reaching a wide-range of customers.

The artisans required in the production of Khadi are skilled laborers and those working in this industry are mostly women. The daily wages decided by the KVIC are comparatively lower than other industries, decreasing the amount of artisan participation.. Consider this, if the government steps in and agrees to amend clauses of the KVIC, the Khadi industry will bloom.

The government can do this by spreading awareness about certain programmes under the KVIC such as the PMEGP (Prime Minister’s employment generation Programme) which focus on employing the youth and STEP (Support training and Employment program) which aims at uplifting women. Increasing the minimum wages and allowing non-KVIC certified industries to produce khadi should also be some of the steps taken by the government to uplift the industry.

I know that it is easier said than done and that there are many possibilities for the government to consider before taking the aforementioned steps, but considering the time that we’re living in, maximizing people’s interest in Indian goods is very important. Let’s aim towards making ‘Made in India’ products one’s primary resort.

Khwahish Khan

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“The Liberal Canon” is a student endeavour that hopes to give every individual the opportunity to express themselves. By initiating important conversations , sparking debates and encouraging dissent , the newsletter is playing a crucial role in moulding the leaders of tomorrow.

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