- During India’s freedom struggle, khadi represented self-employment and self-reliance for Indians.
- From the non-co-operation movement to the satyagraha, Gandhiji’s emphasis on Khadi helped greatly in India’s freedom fight against colonial rule.
What is Khadi?
- Derived from the term khaddar, Khadi is a handspun and handwoven cotton cloth, which became one of the symbols of India’s freedom struggle.
- Mahatma Gandhi is said to have coined the term ‘khadi’ for these fabrics owing to their coarse texture.
- Khadi is spun using a charkha or an Indian spinning wheel.
How Khadi Became the National Fabric of India?
- Khadi was introduced to the people of undivided India in 1918 in order to achieve self-sufficiency and independence from British textiles. Thus, in no time, Khadi became the national fabric of India.
- Because of industrialization, the British textile industry began mass-producing cotton finished goods and marketing these in India at very low rates.
- They converted India from a supplier of finished textile products to an exporter of raw materials (cotton) to Britain and an importer of cheap, low-quality fabrics. Indian artisans thus were dealt a heavy financial blow.
- In this context, Gandhiji gave the call for Swaraj or self-rule, which envisaged an end to dependency on British products and institutions.
What was Gandhiji’s Message?
- Gandhiji spread the message that every village of India must plant and harvest its own raw materials and its people should spin Khadi for their own use.
- M.K. Gandhi saw this as a way to uplift the common masses out of poverty and build a system of self-reliance.
- Eventually, Gandhi promoted the use of Swadeshi products and urged for boycotting foreign goods.
- At this time, Khadi was already popular as the fabric of nationalism, woven with ‘the threads of Swaraj’.
Khadi Movement for Social and Economic Reason
- As the idea of spinning Khadi spread across India, Gandhi ji hoped for unity among all classes through this common occupation by diluting the gap which existed between the people.
- Soon enough Gandhi understood that more than simply accepting the handwoven fabric, the people of India needed to make Khadi a part of their everyday life.
- Thus, the Khadi movement was established for social and economic reasons.
- The essence of this movement lies in Gandhi’s understanding of the fabric as something that could uplift the masses.
- He recognized that rural India carried immense skills and the villages could prosper by becoming a crafts-based society.
- Therefore, through the introduction of Khadi, he wished to start a process of change whereby the indigenous arts and crafts of India could prosper and become famous across the globe.
Khadi became a central icon of India’s freedom struggle, and Charkha became a prominent figure on the Indian national flag designed in the 1930s.