ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Livery of Freedom

This is with reference to the brilliantly written article “Khadi Production in India” by Sumanas Koulagi (EPW, 11 April 2015). Bernard Shaw had once remarked that though Mahatma Gandhi could commit any number of tactical errors, his essential strategy continued to be right. He was not interested in the tactical advantage of the moment. Rather, he was concerned with the long run. He had an unrivalled knowledge of the Indian villages and the conditions of life that prevailed there. It was out of that personal experience that Gandhi evolved his programme of the khadi and village industries instead of waiting helplessly, like derelicts, for relief from others.

On 6 April 1916, in the textile-mill city of Ahmedabad, he declared: “Khadi work is the only true political programme before the country.” Apart from it being a means of economic regeneration of the village, homespun (khadi) was the peculiar contribution of Gandhi towards making political India conscious of poor, uneducated and non-political India. Regarding the political and economic significance of khadi he said: “Khadi to me is the symbol of unity of Indian humanity, of its economic freedom and, therefore, ultimately, in the poetic expression of Jawaharlal Nehru, ‘the livery of India’s freedom’.”

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