Khadi – a fabric which was used as a tool to achieve freedom. For a long time khadi was associated with the country’s freedom struggle and politics.
The word is derived from ‘khaddar’, a term for handspun fabric in India. Khadi is usually manufactured from cotton but it is also made from silk and woolen yarn.
Khadi before independence was considered as the fabric for the political leaders and the rural people. But now it has found its way into the wardrobe of fashionistas too. Earlier the type of khadi available was khadi cotton which was coarse in its texture and feel. However many varieties of khadi like khadi silk, khadi wool and khadi cotton are available now, which makes it a fashionable fabric and likeable by the masses.
It was re-discovered by freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi, as an initiation of empowerment. After his return to India from South Africa in 1915, he began to advocate khadi as the only true Swadeshi. The first fabric of Khadi was woven with the commencement of the Boycott Movement in India, which dates back to 1920s. During the ‘Swadeshi Movement’ that began by shunning foreign goods, it was widely publicized among the Indian population as an alternative to the British textiles.
Khadi is a coarse and easy fabric to sew. Patchwork, Kantha, Phulkari, and Block Printing are designed easily on this fabric.The fabric has facets spreading from printed, embroidery, hand spun to hand loomed, warp print and jacquard. Its variety that we get today is not limited to the politician’s trousseau of a nehru style jacket. It has become a style quotient for the masses and the young crowd of modern India. It is a versatile fabric as it is cool in summer and warm in winter.
Apart from the regular Kurtas and Sarees, there are Khadi shirts, pants, and skirts being manufactured. Innovative cuts and design are now becoming synonymous with the industry and being loved by many. The fabric is very easy to maintain the fabric as it can be easily handwashed and ironed.
Khadi also provides employment to the poor, gives earning to small cotton farmers, is eco-friendly and has simplicity which gives it elegance and connects it to the freedom movement and Gandhian values. Some of the khadi producing states of our country are Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Assam.
In terms of value, the annual production is in the range of Rs 700-1000 crore. Being a traditional labour intensive industry, one-square metre of khadi cloth requires about 281.05 gram of hand spun yarn which a spinner could earlier produce in about 3 days, but can now produce in just half-day, with the help of new model charkhas introduced by Khadi and Village Commission. About 9 lakh spinners and weavers work in this sector. An artisan on the average gets work for 200 days in a year.
Khadishould be more accessible, well-priced, stylish enough to cater to the taste of urban India. It has already become a style statement for many along with proving employment to the large population. Thus, it is now not just only a device used by Gandhi ji for freedom but it is life of many Indians.