VILLAGE ECONOMY > CONSTRUCTIVE PROGRAMME > Khadi
*Khadi* is a controversial subject. Many people
think that in advocating *Khadi* I am sailing against a headwind and am sure to
sink the ship of Swaraj and that I am taking the country to the dark ages. I do
not propose to argue the case for *Khadi* in this brief survey. I have argued it
sufficiently elsewhere. Here I want to show what every Congressman, and for that
matter every Indian, can do to advance the cause of *Khadi*. It connotes the
beginning of economic freedom and equality of all in the country. "The proof of
the pudding is in the eating." Let everyone try, and he or she will find out for
himself or herself the truth of what I am saying. *Khadi* must be taken with all
its implications. It means a wholesale Swadeshi mentality, a determination to
find all the necessaries of life in india and that too through the labour and
intellect of the villagers. That means a reversal of the existing process. That
is to say that, instead of half a dozen cities of India and Great Britain living
on the exploitation and the ruin of the 7,00,000 villages of India, the latter
will be largely self-contained, and will voluntarily serve the cities of
This needs a revolutionary change in the mentality and tastes of many. Easy though the non-violent way is in many respects, it is very difficult in many others. It vitally touches the life of every single Indian, makes him feel aglow with the possession of a power that has lain hidden within himself, and makes him proud of his identity with every drop of the ocean of Indian humanity. This non-violence is not the inanity for which we have mistaken it through all these long ages; it is the most potent force as yet known to mankind and on which its very existence is dependent. It is that force which I have tried to present to the Congress and through it to the world. *Khadi* to me is the symbol of unity of Indian humanity, of its economic freedom and equality and, therefore, ultimately, in the poetic expression of Jawaharlal Nehru, "the livery of India's freedom".
Moreover, *Khadi* mentality means decentralization of the production and distribution of the necessaries of life. Therefore, the formula so far evolved is, every village to produce all its necessaries and a certain percentage in addition for the requirements of the cities.
Heavy industries will needs be centralized and nationalized. But they will occupy the least part of the vast national activity which will mainly be in the villages, Having explained the implications of *Khadi*, I must indicate what Congressmen can and should do towards its promotion. Production of *Khadi* includes cotton growing, picking, ginning, cleaning, carding, slivering, spinning, sizing, dyeing, preparing the warp and the woof, weaving, and washing. These, with the exception of dyeing, are essential processes. Every one of them can be effectively handled in the villages and is being so handled in many villages throughout India which the A.I.S.A, is covering. According to the latest report the following are the interesting figures: 2,75,146 villagers, including 19,645 Harijans and 57,378 Muslims, scattered in at least 13,451 villages received, as spinners, weavers, etc. Rs. 34,85,609 in 1940. The spinners were largely women.
Yet the work done is only one-hundredth part of what could be done if Congressmen honestly took up the *Khadi* programme. Since the wanton destruction of this central village industry and the allied handicrafts, intelligence and brightness have fled from the villages, leaving them inane, lustreless, and reduced almost to the state of their ill-kept cattle.
If Congressmen will be true to their Congress call in respect of *Khadi* they will carry out the instructions of the A. I.S.A. issued from time to time as to the part they can play in Khadi planning. Only a few broad rules can be laid down here:
1. Every family with a plot of ground can grow cotton at least for family use. Cotton growing is an easy process. In Bihar the cultivators were by law compelled to grow indigo on 3/20 of their cultivable land. This was in the interest of the foreign indigo planter. Why cannot we grow cotton voluntarily for the nation on a certain portion of our land? The reader will note that decentralization commences from the beginning of the *Khadi* processes. Today cotton crop is centralized and has to be sent to distant parts of India. Before the war it used to be sent principally to Britain and Japan. It was and still is a money crop and, therefore, subject to the fluctuations of the market. Under the Khadi scheme cotton growing becomes free from this uncertainty and gamble. The grower grows what he needs. The farmer needs to know that his first business is to grow for his own needs. When he does that, he will reduce the chance of a low market ruining him.
2. Every spinner would buy--if he has not his own enough cotton for ginning, which he can easily do without the hand-ginning roller frame. He can gin his own portion with a board and an iron rolling pin. Where this is considered impracticable, hand-ginned cotton should be bought and carded. Carding for self can be done well on a tiny bow without much effort. The greater the decentralization of labour, the simpler and cheaper the tools. The slivers made, the process of spinning commences. I strongly recommend the *dhanush takli*. I have used it frequently. My speed on it is almost the same as on the wheel. I draw a finer thread and the strength and evenness of the yarn are greater on the *dhanush takli* than on the wheel. This may not, however, hold good for all. My emphasis on the *dhanush takli* is based on the fact that it is more easily made, is cheaper than and does not require frequent repairs like the wheel. Unless one knows how to make the two mals and to adjust them when they slip or to put the wheel right when it refuses to work, the wheel has often to lie idle. Moreover, if the millions take to spinning at once, as they well may have to, the *dhanush takli* being the instrument most easily made and handled, is the only tool that can meet the demand. It is more easily made even than the simple *takli*. The best, easiest and cheapest way is to make it oneself. Indeed one ought to learn how to handle and make simple tools. Imagine the unifying and educative effect of the whole nation simultaneously taking part in the process up to spinning! Consider the leveling effect of the bond of common labour between the rich and the goer!
Yarn thus produced may be used in three ways: by presenting it to the A.I.S.A. for the sake of the poor, by having it woven for personal use, or by getting as much *Khadi* for it as it can buy. It is clear enough that the finer and better the yarn the greater will be its virtue. If Congressmen will put their heart into the work, they will make improvements in the tools and make many discoveries. In our country there has been a divorce between labour and intelligence, The result has been stagnation. If there is an indissoluble marriage between the two, and that in the manner here suggested, the resultant good will be inestimable.
In this scheme of nation-wide spinning as a sacrifice, I do not expect the average man or woman to give more than one hour daily to this work.