By -Manoj Gupta :What Munnabhai has done to Gandhism or ‘Gandhigiri’, modernization has done that to Khadi – giving it a mass base. Khadi is no longer considered to be the prerogative of a select few politicians. Nor does it have the same old drab look.
These days it is not hard to see the models wearing swanky Khadi apparels walking up and down the ramps. To introduce modern designs and styles in Khadi fabrics and garments, the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has developed linkages with National Institute of Design (NID), Ahmedabad and National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), New Delhi. A number of designs have been developed by NID experts in consultation with KVIC and major khadi producing institutions. Training programmes are also being conducted by NIFT involving the fabricators and tailors of Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan, New Delhi. Fashion shows are regularly being organized to project the new Khadi designs and apparels. And, of course, to change the mindset of prospective buyers.
Charkha, Khadi and Gandhiji
Khadi and charkha are inseparable. As we know, spinning of the thread on charkha precedes the weaving of khadi. The charkha became a weapon towards achieving Independence during Non-cooperation Movement. Gandhiji said, “In my dream, in my sleep, while eating, I think of spinning wheel. The spinning wheel is my sword. To me it is the symbol of India’s liberty.” KVIC has been working relentlessly to promote khadi and charkha since its inception. It has taken a number of steps to modernize charkha and other implements. It has traversed a long way from the traditional charkha to e-charkha. The e-charkha has been developed by Shri Hiremath, a Bangalore based engineer. E-charkha was dedicated to the nation by none other than the President of India Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil on 19th November, 2007. It has a maintenance free lead acid battery fixed at the bottom, which functions as an inverter. In this system, the battery is charged when the charkha is being used which can store and supply power to light up a small LED based “home-light”. The battery provides electricity to power a small transistor radio also. Spinning the e-charkha for about two hours gives backup power for about six to seven hours of basic lighting and playing radio.
Apart from the transformation of charkha to e-charkha, a number of modernization schemes are being implemented by KVIC. A Scheme called Enhancing Productivity and Competitiveness of Khadi Industry and Artisans is proposed to be implemented in the 11th Plan. Under this Scheme, a sum of Rs.90 crore is to be provided as assistance to 200 institutions for replacement of charkhas and looms, conversion of fabric to readymade garment and for making the khadi industry more competitive and profitable. Another proposal has been mooted to provide assistance towards renovation, computerization, marketing infrastructure, quality improvement of products, better packaging etc. of khadi products.
In the era of globalization, the watchword for any industry to survive is to diversify. Khadi was earlier sold only in the fabric form. As per consumer demand various institutions are being encouraged for readymade garments for which assistance from professional designers is provided under the scheme called Product Development, Design Intervention and Packaging (PRODIP). The scheme is intended to diversify the product line with the objective of increasing marketability, conversion of existing stock to make suitable products acceptable to the market and also improving the marketability of the product by better tailoring, packaging, design input etc. The sales volume and value have increased due to ready to use khadi products. In the changing market scenario there is a need to update and innovate existing technology. With this aim KVIC is implementing various R&D programmes through national level institutes like IITs, NITs etc. KVIC has introduced three brands for KVI products. These are: Khadi brand, Sarvodaya brand and Desi Aahaar brand. The products under Khadi brand are specially developed for export. Herbal products like henna, shampoo, neem soap, face scrub, bath oil, rose water etc. and hi-fashion designer garments are produced under this brand. Soap, honey, pickles, agarbatti etc. are covered under Sarvodaya brand. Natural food ranges like pulse, cereals and spices powder, jaggery, dalia etc. and traditional and ethnic natural food products are marketed under Desi Aahaar brand.
KVIC has been granted the status of deemed Export Promotion Council to extend assistance on the pattern of umbrella Export Promotion Council like Federation of Indian Exporters Organization (FIEO). The main objectives, inter alia, are: to enhance the image of KVI products abroad as a replicable supplier of high quality goods and services; to encourage and monitor the observance of international standards and specifications by exporters; to gather/disseminate trade information; to organize buyers-sellers meet etc. As per tentative report the export of KVI items during 2007-08 has crossed Rs.80.00 crore compared to Rs.53.73 crore during 2006-07. It is targeted to achieve the export to the tune of Rs.1000 crore under the fold of KVIC-EPC by the end of 11th Plan.
KVIC also participates in international exhibitions to introduce the exclusive KVI items in overseas markets.
The Cluster Approach in Khadi
A ‘cluster’ is primarily an agglomeration of enterprises producing same/similar products/services or engaged in the same line of manufacturing activities or services, located within an identifiable and, as far as practicable, contiguous area.
The Ministry of Small Scale Industries (now Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises) laid special emphasis on development of cluster and launched a scheme Technology Upgradation and Management Programme called UPTECH in 1998. Later, in August 2003, the scheme was renamed as Small Industry Cluster Development Programme (SICDP) and made broad based by adopting holistic pattern of development of the cluster encompassing marketing, exports, skill development, setting up of common facility centres, including technology upgradation of the enterprises, etc.
SICDP guidelines were comprehensively revised in March, 2006 making the cluster programme more broad-based by facilitating substantial economics of scale in terms of deployment of available resources in the medium to long term.
As per the Promotional Package announced by the Government, SICDP was renamed as Micro & Small Enterprises – Cluster Development Programme (MSE-CDP) to make it more attractive. The Cluster Development Programme for Khadi, namely the Scheme of Fund for Regeneration of Traditional Industries (SFURTI) has received very good response. KVIC has launched 22 clusters in different parts of the country. Some more are being operationalised soon.
The Government has approved a new Central Sector Plan Scheme called ‘Workshed Scheme for Khadi Artisans’ (WSKA) for implementation w.e.f. 27th May 2008 through KVIC in an attempt to facilitate the development of khadi spinners and weavers essentially belonging to BPL category by providing them financial assistance for construction of worksheds, on a pilot basis.
This scheme would be implemented during the XI Plan (2008-09 to 2011-12). More than 38,000 worksheds are proposed to be constructed at a total cost of Rs.127 crore approximately, involving financial assistance of Rs.95 crore as grants to KVIC from Government of India’s budgetary sources.
The additional requirements of funds over and above the financial assistance provided by the Government of India, to meet the cost of Workshed could be contributed by Khadi Institutions without insisting on any contribution from the beneficiaries. In case of individual Worksheds, the khadi institutions can also release the additional funds assessed for construction of workshed out of the accumulations in Artisans Welfare Fund lying to the credit of the beneficiary with State Level Artisan Welfare Fund Trust. The financial assistance to be provided by the Government will go to the institutions (with which the beneficiaries of the scheme are affiliated), which will be responsible for the construction of worksheds (either directly or under their supervision) and KVIC will supervise the activities.
Gandhiji had said, “ Khadi will cease to have any value in my eyes if it does not usefully employ the millions”. Keeping Gandhiji’s vision in mind, KVIC has chartered the path of providing employment to our teeming millions through various programmes.