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The Story of Khadi

Khadi emerged as a national narrative, weaving a tale deeply rooted in the Swadeshi movement. Khadi, a handspun and hand-woven natural fiber cloth, became intertwined with the spirit of India's quest for independence, spearheaded by notable freedom fighters like Mahatma Gandhi and Bal Gangadhar Tilak, in response to the Bengal Partition.

The essence of the Swadeshi movement lay in fostering Indian nationalism and executing an economic strategy aimed at breaking free from British dominance. Madhusudhan Phatak, a resident of a Mumbai colony, eloquently describes how the Swadeshi movement rapidly spread, influencing even the creation of landmarks such as the Rajabai Clock Tower and the watch-making factory that built the clock inside the tower. 

As a fabric, Khadi assumed a pivotal role in shaping the collective consciousness of Indians during the peak of the Swadeshi movement. Mahatma Gandhi established stores across Mumbai to promote cultural unity and boost the nation's economic stature. B C Patel, co-owner of Khadi Gramodyog (Gandhi Seva Sena) in Nana Chowk, highlights that Khadi's suitability for Bombay's climate led to its widespread adoption.

In a contemporary context, Khadi’s revival is attributed to Prime Minister Modi’s efforts, transforming it from a silent industry into a cornerstone of the 'Made in India' vision. Patel notes a surge in demand for Khadi, even at a higher cost, turning it into a brand synonymous with Indian heritage. Under Modi's initiative, the Khadi sector, has become a catalyst for employment, reaching the remotest parts of India.

Khadi's narrative is uniquely Indian, offering insights into the profound significance a simple fabric holds in the country's heritage. In a world dominated by fast fashion, Khadi emerges as a sustainable alternative, symbolizing not just a fabric but the enduring spirit of the Indian freedom struggle and serving as a symbol of empowerment for the Republic of India.

by Gargee Ranade

Dated: 12/2019

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