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PM�s pep talk infuses energy into khadi sale

PM’s pep talk infuses energy into khadi sale

With products reflecting current fashion trends,

khadi showrooms aim for a record Deepavali sale

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech aired on All India Radio on October 3, advocating the use of khadi, has evoked hope among khadi enthusiasts and authorities working towards its promotion.

“Nearly 50,000 people in Madurai district benefit directly and indirectly because of their involvement in industries related to khadi,” says J. John Peter, secretary of Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan near Crime Branch in the city, an institution certified by Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC). According to him, at a time when the commission is taking a slew of measures to popularise khadi among the masses, the Prime Minister’s announcement has given them a boost and will infuse energy into the khadi sale. “His speech was very encouraging. We have undertaken steps to promote khadi in a big way so as to compete with multinational brands,” Mr. Peter says.

Authorities in the Gramodyog Bhavan say the Deepavali season last year saw a record sale of more than Rs.6 crore and the target has been fixed at Rs.8 crore this year. And the announcement of the Prime Minister has come at an ideal time, they say.

Job opportunities

N. Selvaraj, Director in charge of the KVIC, Madurai region, says one of the visions of the commission is to generate employment avenues for youth in rural areas. “It was Mahatma Gandhi who created an industrial revolution by popularising khadi so that it gave employment to the needy,” he recalls.

According to Mr. Selvaraj, as many as 5,000 institutions in India, registered under the KVIC, are promoting khadi. “We have 7,050 retail outlets all over the country. Nearly 125 lakh people are employed in khadi and village industries. Last year, these outlets recorded a sale of Rs.28,000 crore,” he says.

A new design development plan and khadi reform and development programme are on the anvil, Mr. Selvaraj says.

The fabrics are classified as silk khadi, woollen khadi and poly vastra. While khadi garments such as shirts, dhotis, saris, blouses and salwars have been in the market for several years, dresses for children were introduced recently. “We also organise activities to promote khadi in educational institutions. We put up stalls in engineering, arts and science colleges and universities where we also get suggestions from students on improvising the products in tune with current trends,” says Mr. Peter.

More colours have been introduced in shirts, and khadi fabrics from other States also adorn showrooms in the city. “The fabrics are good for the health of people as well. That is why we think the dresses for children will evoke a good response since they will be comfortable to wear in summer,” he adds.

S. Bala Yokini, a veterinarian, has been buying khadi silk saris for the past 10 years. “The prices are reasonable and the quality is really good. The saris last longer,” she says. Dr. Bala Yokini says more people should patronise khadi products.

Silk sari collections such as Samutrika and printed and embroidery products cost Rs.4,500 to Rs.20,000. “Silk saris with pure silver zari are unique to khadi showrooms,” says an official.

The leather footwear manufactured at khadi are priced between Rs.250 and Rs.400. “We manufacture footwear with quality products, but price them less so that they are affordable to all. We also make special footwear for diabetics,” says K. Selvaraj, who is in-charge of the footwear unit at Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan here.

N. Ravikumar, a tailor at Gramodyog Bhavan, says he is unable to meet the demand. “I stitch 300 shirts in a month. The demand for shirts is on the rise,” he adds.

“The KVIC is doing a yeoman service in eradicating unemployment in rural areas. The push from the top authorities in the government will definitely help the khadi sale to gain momentum,” notes R. Shankar Narayanan, Assistant General Manager of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD).