Why Village Industries
I recall a conversation I had with Fazalbhai in 1920 when I was on the eve
of launching the movement of Swadeshi. He characteristically said to me,
'If you, Congressmen, become advertising agents of ours, you will do no good
to the country except to put a premium on our wares and to raise the prices
of our manufactures. His argument was sound. But he was nonplussed when I
informed him that I was to encourage hand-spun and hand-woven Khadi which
had been woefully neglected and which needed to be revived if the starving
and unemployed millions were to be served.
But Khadi is not the only such struggling industry. I therefore suggest to
you to direct your attention and effort to all the small-scale, minor,
unorganized industries that arc today in need of public support. They may
be wiped out if no effort is made in their behalf. Some of these are being
pushed back by large-scale industries which flood the markets with their
manufactures. It is these that cry for your help.
Cent Par Cent Swadeshi 1958, p. 4
I have no doubt in my mind that we add to the national wealth if we help the
small-scale industries. I have no doubt also that true Swadeshi consists in
encouraging and reviving these home industries. That alone can help the dumb
millions. It also provides an outlet for the creative faculties and
resourcefulness of the people. It can also usefully employ hundreds of
youths in the country who are in need of employment. It may harness all the
energy that at present runs to waste. I do not want any one of those who are
engaged in more remunerative occupations to leave them and take to the minor
industries. Just as I did with regard to the spinning wheel, I would ask
only those who suffer from unemployment and penury to take to some of these
industries and add a little to their slender resources.
It will thus be seen that the change in activity that I have suggested to
you does in no way conflict with the interests of the major industries. I
want to say only this much that you, national servants, will restrict your
activities to the minor industries and let the major ones help themselves as
they are doing today. The minor industries I conceive will not replace the
major ones, but will supplement them.
Cent Par Cent Swadeshi 1958, p.5
We may profess to gratuitously help textile, sugar and rice mills and,
respectively, kill the village spinning wheel, the handloom and their
product, Khadi, the village cane-crusher and its product, the vitamin-laden
and nourishing gud or molasses, and the hand-pounder and its product,
unpolished rice, whose pericarp, which holds the vitamins, is left intact by
these pounders. Our clear duty is, therefore, to investigate the
possibility of keeping in existence the village wheel, the village crusher
and the village pounder, and, by advertising their products, discovering
their qualities, ascertaining the condition of the workers and the number
displaced by the power driven machinery and discovering the methods of
improving them, whilst retaining their village character, to enable them to
stand the competition of the mills. How terribly and criminally we have
neglected them! Here there is no antagonism to the textile or the sugar or
the rice mills. Their products must be preferred to the corresponding
foreign products. If they were in danger of extinction from foreign
competition, they should receive the needed support. But they stand in no
such need. They are flourishing in spite of foreign competition. What is
needed is protection of the village crafts and the workers behind them from
the crushing competition of the power driven machinery, whether it is worked
in India or in foreign lands. It may be that Khadi, gud and
unpolished rice have no intrinsic quality and that they should die. But,
except for Khadi not the slightest effort has been made, so far as I am
aware, to know anything about the fate of the tens of thousands of
villagers who were earning their livelihood through crushing cane and
H., 10-8’34, p.204
I have ruled out organized industries, not because they are not
Swadeshi, but because they do not need special support. They can stand on
their own legs and, in the present state of our awakening, can easily
command a market.
H., 28-9’34, p.259
In a nutshell, of the things we use, we should restrict our purchases to the
articles which villages manufacture. Their manufactures may be crude. We
must try to induce them to improve their workmanship, and not dismiss them
because foreign articles or even articles produced in cities, that is big
factories, are superior. In other words, we should evoke the artistic talent
of the villager. In this manner shall we repay somewhat the debt we owe to
them. We need not be frightened by the thought whether we shall ever succeed
in such an effort. Within our own times we can recall instances where we
have not been baffled by the difficulty of our tasks when we have known that
they were essential for the nation's progress. If, therefore, we as
individuals believe that revivification of India's villages is a necessity
of our existence, if we believe that thereby only can we root out
untouchability and feel one with all, no matter to what community or
religion they may belong, we must mentally go back to the villages and treat
them as our pattern, instead of putting the city life before them for
imitation. If this is the correct attitude, then, naturally, we begin with
ourselves and thus use, say, hand-made paper instead of mill-made, use
village reed, wherever possible, instead of the fountain pen or the
penholder, ink made in the villages instead of the big factories, etc. I can
multiply instances of this nature. There is hardly anything of daily use in
the home which the villagers have not made before and cannot make even now.
If we perform the mental trick and fix our gaze upon them, we immediately
put millions of rupees into the pockets of the villagers, whereas at the
present moment we are exploiting the villagers without making any return
worth the name. It is time we arrested the progress of the tragedy.
H., 30-11’34, p.332
Bit by bit village people are being confined only to the hand-to-mouth
business of scratching the earth. Few know today that agriculture in the
small and irregular holdings of India is not a paying proposition. The
villagers live a lifeless life. Their life is a process of slow starvation.
They are burdened with debts.
H., 16-11’34, p.316
Extinction of village industries would complete the ruin of the 7,00,000
villages in India.
H., 16-11’34, p.316
Mechanization is good when the hands are too few for the work intended to be
accomplished. It is an evil when there are more hands than required for the
work, as is the case in India.
H., 16-11’34, p.316
But if the cloth manufactured in mills displaces village hands, rice mills
and flour mills not only displace thousands of poor women workers, but
damage the health of the whole population in the bargain. Where people have
no objection to taking flesh diet and can afford it, white flour and
polished rice may do no harm, but in India, where millions can get no flesh
diet even where they have no objection to eating it if they can get it, it
is sinful to deprive them of nutritious and vital elements contained in
whole wheat meal and unpolished rice. It is time medical men and others
combined to instruct the people on the danger attendant upon the use of
white flour and polished rice.
H., 16-11’34, p.316
The way to take work to the villagers is not through mechanization but
through revival of the industries they have hitherto followed.
H., 16-11’34, p.316
'Hence the function of the All India Village Industries Association must, in
my opinion, be to encourage the existing industries and to revive, where it
is possible and desirable, the dying or dead industries of villages
according to the village methods, i.e. the villagers working in their own
cottages as they have done from times immemorial. These simple methods can
be considerably improved as they have been in hand-ginning, hand-carding,
hand-spinning and hand-weaving.
H., 16-11’34, p.316
Khadi is the sun of the village solar system. The planets are the various
industries which can support Khadi in return for the heat and the sustenance
they derive from it. Without it, the other industries cannot grow. But
during my last tour I discovered that, without the revival of the other
industries, Khadi could not make further progress. For villagers to be able
to occupy their spare time profitably, the village must be touched at all points.
H., 16-11’34, p.317
Involuntary and voluntary idleness of villagers make them a perpetual prey
of exploiters, foreign and indigenous. Whether the exploiter is from outside
or from the Indian cities, their state would be the same, they would have no
Swaraj. So I said to myself, ' Let these people be asked to do something
else; if they will not interest themselves in Khadi, let them take up some
work which used to be done by their ancestors, but which has of late died
out.' There are numerous things of daily use which they used to produce
themselves not many years ago, but for which they now depend on the outer
world. There are numerous things of daily use to the town-dweller for which
he depends on the villagers, but which he now imports from cities. The
moment the villagers .decide to devote all their spare time to doing
something useful and town-dwellers to use those village products, the
snapped link between the villagers and the town-dwellers would be restored.
H., 7-12’34, p.340
I am not asking the city-dwellers to go to and live in the villages. But I
am asking them to render unto the villagers what is due to them. Is there
any single raw material that the city-dwellers can obtain except from the
villager? If they cannot, why not teach him to work on it himself, as he
used to before and as he would do now but for our exploiting inroads?
H., 7-12’34, p.340-41
We shall have to see that the villagers become first of all self-contained
and then cater for the needs of the city-dwellers.
H., 7-12’34, p.341
Other village industries come in as a hand-maid to Khadi. They cannot exist
without Khadi, and Khadi will be robbed of its dignity without them. Village
economy cannot be complete without the essential village industries such as
hand-grinding, hand-pounding, soap-making, paper-making, matchmaking,
tanning, oil-pressing, etc. Congressmen can interest themselves in these
and, if they are villagers or will settle down in villages, they will give
these industries a new life and a new dress. All should make it a point of
honour to use only village articles whenever and wherever available. Given
the demand there is no doubt that most of our wants can be supplied from our
villages. When we have become village- minded, we will not want imitations
of the West or machine-made products, but we will develop a true national
taste in keeping with the vision of a new India in which pauperism.,
starvation and idleness will be unknown.
Constructive Programme, 1961, p.16-17
The revival of village industries is but an extension of the Khadi effort.
Hand-spun cloth, handmade paper, hand-pounded rice, home-made bread and
jam, are not uncommon in the West. Only there they do not have one-hundredth
of the importance they have in India. For, with us, their revival means
life, their destruction means death, to the villagers, as he who runs may
see. Whatever the machine age may do, it will never give "employment to the
millions whom the wholesale introduction of power machinery must displace.
H., 4-1’35, p.372
All of us should be convinced that the Charkha is the symbol of non-violent
Khadi- Why and How, 1959, p.150
The pursuit of the Charkha must become the mainspring of manifold other
activities like village industries, Nai Talim etc. If we are able to adopt
the Charkha intelligently we can revive the entire economic life of our
villages once more.
Khadi- Why and How, 1959, p.151
Our worker should be able to identify himself with all that requires to be
done in the village, that is, with the entire life of the village and yet
feel as light as ever.
Khadi- Why and How, 1959, p.159
I regard Charkha as the centre of village uplift. In addition, the worker
will have to see what other village crafts can prosper in his village. The
first in order among these crafts will be the bullock oil-press. Our worker
would have to know its technique which has now been scientifically improved
at Maganwadi. Another industry which may be introduced is handmade paper.
This has to be learnt not with the view of supplying paper to the whole
country but in order to make the village self-sufficient and capable of
earning a little income.
Next to oil and hand-made paper we must revive the hand-chakki
(grinding stone) — a vital thing in every village. Otherwise flour-mills
which have been a source of anxiety to me for several years will be our
fate. Similarly in regard to rice. We must get our people in the villages to
take to hand-pounding of rice or hand-chakkis for husking paddy, for
it is a well-established fact that the white polished rice put out by mills
is harmful to health.
Khadi- Why and How, 1959, p.162
The village worker should acquire all-round knowledge about building up the
whole village. There will be some sewing work in the village, smithy,
carpentry, leather work, agriculture, etc. The village worker should seek
to bring about co-operation among the workers in these various occupations
so as to make them serve as harmonious parts of one whole.
Khadi- Why and How, 1959, p.163
Now we have to do the work anew with the objective of all-round village
uplift. Let us see how far we can go. Even if our present activities have to
be slackened or reduced to nought for sometime on account of these changes,
it does not matter. We have created some sentiment about Khadi among the
people. But if there is some error in what we told the people about the
significance of Khadi we must pause. If ours was a wrong claim we must
declare our error openly and withdraw our claim.
I would ask city-dwellers to produce their own Khadi. I would forgo the
temptation to supply Khadi to them. We shall go and settle in the villages.
In case workers want to leave us on account of this change we shall let them
go. Unless our head and heart are converted to this extent we cannot achieve
the desired result. We of the A.I.S.A. will merely direct policy. But
decentralizing our work as much as possible we shall free ourselves from day
to day Khadi work completely. Thereafter we shall concentrate our energy and
attention on the other activities or crafts carried out in the vicinity of
the village we settle in. Only then will the real substance of our work be
realized. . . .Today our main concern should be to lay the foundation for
this work as deep as possible.
Khadi- Why and How, 1959, p.177
I am thinking of ways and means of improving the condition of the people
through a rehabilitation of agriculture, cattle-breeding and all other
village industries. My problem will be solved, if I succeed even in half a
dozen villages, for as is the part so is the whole.
Khadi- Why and How, 1959, p.181
Begin with Yourself
Correspondents have been writing, and friends have been seeing me, to ask me
how to begin the village industries work and what to do first.
The obvious answer is, "Begin with yourself and do first that which is
easiest for you to do."
This answer, however, does not satisfy the enquirers. Let me, therefore, be
Each person can examine all the articles of food, clothing and other things
that he uses from day to day and replace foreign makes or city makes, by
those produced by the villagers in their homes or fields with the simple
inexpensive tools they can easily handle and mend. This replacement will be
itself, an education of great value and a solid beginning. The next step
will be opened out to him of itself. For instance, say, the beginner has
been hitherto using a tooth-brush made in a Bombay factory. He wants to
replace it with a village brush. He is advised to use a babul twig.
If he has weak teeth or is toothless, he has to crush one end of it, with a
rounded stone or a hammer, on a hard surface. The other end he slits with a
knife and uses the halves as tongue- scrapers. He will find these brushes to
be cheaper and much cleaner than the very unhygienic factory- made
tooth-brush. The city-made tooth-powder he naturally replaces with equal
parts of clean, finely- ground, wood-charcoal and clean salt. He will
replace mill-cloth with village-spun Khadi, and mill- husked rice with
hand-husked, unpolished rice, and white sugar with village-made gur.
These I have taken merely as samples ... to deal with the difficulties that
have been mentioned by those who have been discussing the question with me.
H., 25-1-’35, p.400
Criminal negligence is the only cause of the miserable condition of our
cattle. Our pinjrapoles, though they are an answer to our instinct
for mercy, are a clumsy demonstration of its execution. Instead of being
model dairy farms and great profitable national institutions, they are
merely depots for receiving decrepit cattle. Whilst professing the religion
of cow protection, we have enslaved the cow and her progeny, and have become
Y.I, 6-10-’21, p.318
An ideal goshala would supply the city of its domicile with cheap and
wholesome milk from cattle of its own keeping, and cheap and lasting
foot-wear not out of slaughtered hide but of the hide of dead cattle. Such a
goshala will not be on one or two acres of ground in the heart of a city
or in its immediate neighbourhood but it would have at some distance, but
within easy reach, fifty to a hundred acres of ground where a modern dairy
and a modern tannery would be conducted on strictly business but national
lines. Thus there would be no profits and no dividends to be paid and there
would be also no loss incurred.. In the long run such institutions dotted
all over India would be a triumph of Hinduism and would be proof of Hindu
earnestness about cow, that is, cattle protection and it would provide
decent employment for thousands of men including educated men; for both
dairy and tannery work requires expert scientific knowledge. Not Denmark but
Indian should be a model State for the finest dairy experiments, and India
should not to her shame have to export nine crore rupees worth of dead
cattle hide annually and for her consumption use slaughtered cattle hide.
If such a state of things is a shame for India it is a greater shame for
Hindus. I wish that all the goshala Committees will fake to heart the
remarks I made in reply to the Giridih address and make their goshalas
into ideal dairies and tanneries and a refuge for all worn out and
Y.I., 22-10-’25, p.361
Every goshala or pinjrapole should have a tannery adequate to
its needs attached to it. In other words, the manager in charge of every
such institution should have a thorough knowledge of the immediate steps
necessary for utilizing the remains of dead cattle. If this is done, the
question, viz. how many heads of cattle should a particular goshala
contain, would not arise at all.
I do not know what the rate of mortality of cattle in goshalas is nor
is it relevant to my proposition. So long as there is a single head of
cattle in a goshala its manager ought to know how to dispose of its
remains after it is dead, just as he is expected to know how to look after
it while it is alive.
Such humanitarian institutions for the protection of cattle as I have
described should normally take charge of the remains of the cattle that
might die in the village. Therein lies the interest of the cattle, the
depressed classes and the general public alike. In villages where there are
no goshalas or the concomitant tanneries, some local person who
believes in cow protection should take it upon himself to get the carcasses
removed to the nearest tannery or get the preliminary processes performed
upon it and send the useful parts there.
The establishment of such tanneries as I have described does not require
much capital outlay. Only some initial expenditure would be needed to train
up workers for this work.
Y.I., 3-11-1-’27, p.367
Hand-pounding of Rice and Hand-grinding of Corn
In my writing on cent per cent Swadeshi, I have shown how some aspects of it
can be tackled immediately with benefit to the starving millions both
economically and hygienically. The richest in the land can share the
benefit. Thus if rice can be pounded in the villages after the old fashion,
the wages will fill the pockets of the rice-pounding sisters and the
rice-eating millions will get some sustenance from the unpolished rice
instead of pure starch which the polished rice provides. Human greed, which
takes no account of the health or the wealth of the people who come under
its heels, is responsible for the hideous rice-mills one sees in all the
rice-producing tracts. If public opinion was strong, it will make rice-mills
an impossibility by simply insisting on unpolished rice and appealing to the
owners of rice-mills to stop a traffic that undermines the health of a whole
nation and robs the poor people of an honest means of livelihood.
H., 26-10-’34, p.292
I regard the existence of power wheels for the grinding of corn in thousands
of villages as the limit of our helplessness. I suppose India does not
produce all the engines or grinding machines. . . . The planting of such
machinery and engines on a large scale in villages is also a sign of greed.
Is it proper to fill one's pockets in this manner at the expense of the
poor? Every such machinery puts thousands of hand-chakkis out of
work and takes away employment from thousands of housewives and artisans
who make these chakkis. Moreover, the process is infective and will
spread to every village industry. The decay of the latter spells too the
decay of art. If it meant replacement of old crafts by new ones, one might
not have much to say against it. But this is not what is happening. In the
thousands of villages where power machinery exists, one misses the sweet
music in the early morning of the grinders at work.
H., 10-3-’46, p.34
Machine Oil and Ghani Oil
Shri Jhaverbhai has also examined the cause of the decline of the village
ghani. The most potent cause is the inability of the oilman to command a
regular supply of seeds. The villages are practically deluded of seeds after
the season. The oilman has no money to store the seeds, much less to buy
them in. the cities. Therefore he has disappeared or is fast disappearing.
Lakhs of ghanis are today lying idle causing a tremendous waste of
the country's resources. Surely it is the function of the State to
resuscitate the existing ghanis by conserving seeds in the places of
their origin and making them available to the village oilman at reasonable
rates. The Government loses nothing by giving this aid. It can be given,
so Shri Jhaverbhai contends, through co-operative societies or Panchayats. If
this is done, Shri Jhaverbhai is of opinion, based on research, that
ghani oil can compete with the machine product and villager can be
spared the infliction of the adulterated oil he gets today. It should be
borne in mind that the only fat the villager gets, when he gets any, is what
the oils can give him. To ghee he is generally a stranger.
He (Shri Jhaverbhai) has found out why this machine oil is at all cheaper
than the ghani oil. He gives three reasons, two of which are
unavoidable. They are capital and the ability of the machine to extract the
last drop of oil and that too in a shorter time than the ghani. These
advantages are neutralized by the commission the owner of this oil mill has
to pay to the middleman. But Shri Jhaverbhai cannot cope with the third
reason, adulteration, unless he also takes to it. This naturally he will not
do. He therefore suggests that adulteration should be dealt with by the law.
This can be done by enforcing the Anti-Adulteration Act if there is one or
by enacting it by licensing oil mills.
H., 2-9-’39, p.253
Gur and Khandsari
Take the sugar industry. The largest major industry next to the textile is
that of the manufacture of sugar. It stands in no need of our assistance.
Sugar factories are fast multiplying. Popular agencies have done little to
help the growth of this industry. It is indebted for its growth to
favourable legislation. And today the industry is so prosperous and
expanding that the production of jaggery is becoming a thing of the past.
It is admittedly superior to refined sugar in nutritive value. It is this
very valuable cottage industry that cries out for your help. This by itself
furnishes large scope for research and substantial help. We have to
investigate the ways and means of keeping it alive. This is but an
illustration of what I mean.
Cent Per Cent Swadeshi, 1958, p.5
The advantages, attributed to tadi, are all available from other
foodstuffs. Tadi is made out of khajuri juice. Fresh
khajuri juice is not an intoxicant. It is known as nira in
Hindustani and many people have been cured of their constipation as a result
of drinking nira. I have taken it myself though it did not act as a
laxative with me. I found that it had the same food value as sugarcane
juice. If one drinks a glass of nira in the morning instead of
drinking tea etc., he should not need anything else for breakfast. As in the
sugarcane juice, palm juice can be boiled to make palm jaggery. Khajuri
is a variety of palm tree. Several varieties of palm grow spontaneously in
our country. All of them yield drinkable juice. As nira gets
fermented very quickly, it has to be used up immediately and therefore on
the spot. Since this condition is difficult to fulfill except to a limited
extent, in practice, the best use of nira is to convert it into palm
jaggery. Palm jaggery can well replace sugarcane jaggery. In fact some
people prefer it to the latter. One advantage of palm jaggery over
sugarcane jaggery is that it is less sweet and therefore one can eat more
of it. The All-India Village Industries Association has done a great deal to
popularize palm jaggery, but much remains to be done. If the palms that are
used for making tadi are used for making jaggery, India will never
lack sugar and the poor will be able to get good jaggery for very little
money. Palm jaggery can be converted into molasses and refined sugar. But
the jaggery is much more useful than refined sugar. The salts present in the
jaggery are lost in the process of refining. Just as refined wheat flour and
polished rice lose some of their nutritive value because of the loss of the
pericarp, refined sugar also loses some of the nutritive value of the
jaggery. One may generalize that all foodstuffs are richer if taken in their
natural state as far as possible.
Key to Health, 1960, p.33-34
Bee-keeping seems to me to possess immense possibilities. Apart from its
village value, it may be cultivated as a hobby by moneyed young men and
women. They will add to the wealth of the country and produce the finest
health-giving sugar for themselves. If they are philanthropically inclined,
they can distribute it as health-giving food among sickly Harijan children.
There is no reason why it should be a luxury of the rich or an expensive
medicinal vehicle in the hands of the hakims and vaidyas. No
doubt, my hope is based on inferences drawn from meagre data. Experiments
that may be made in villages and in cities by young men and women should
show whether honey can become a common article of food or has to remain an
uncommon article, which it is today.
H., 1-2-’35, p.407
It is estimated that rupees nine crores worth of raw hide is annually
exported from India and that much of it is returned to her in the shape of
manufactured articles. This means not only a material, but also an
intellectual, drain. We miss the training we should receive in tanning and
preparing the innumerable articles of leather we need for daily use.
Tanning requires great technical skill. An army of chemists can find scope
for their inventive talent in this great industry. There are two ways of
developing. One for the uplift of Harijans living in the villages and eking
out a bare sustenance, living in filth and degradation and consigned to the
village ghetto, isolated and away from the village proper. This way means
part reorganization of villages and taking art, education, cleanliness,
prosperity and dignity to them. This means also the application of chemical
talent to village uplift. Tanning chemists have to discover improved methods
of tanning. The village chemist has to stoop to conquer. He has to learn and
understand the crude village tanning, which is still in existence but which
is fast dying owing to neglect, not to say want of support. But the crude
method may not be summarily scrapped, at least not before a sympathetic
examination. It has served well for centuries. It could not have done so, if
it had no merit. The only research I know in this direction is being carried
on in Santiniketan, and then it was started at the now defunct Ashram at
Sabarmati. I have not been able to keep myself in touch with the progress of
the experiment at Santiniketan. There is every prospect of its revival at
the Harijan Ashram, which the Sabarmati Ashram has now become. These
experiments are mere drops in the ocean of possible research.
Cow-preservation is an article of faith in Hinduism. No Harijan worth his
salt will kill cattle for food. But, having become untouchable, he has
learnt the evil habit of eating carrion. He will not kill a cow but will eat
with the greatest relish the flesh of a dead cow. It may be physiologically
harmless. But psychologically there is nothing, perhaps, so repulsive as
carrion-eating. And yet, when a dead cow is brought to a Harijan tanner's
house, it is a day of rejoicing for the whole household. Children dance
round the carcass, and as the animal is flayed, they take hold of bones or
pieces of flesh and throw them at one another. As a tanner, who is living at
the Harijan Ashram, describing the scenes at his own now forsaken home,
tells me the whole family is drunk with joy at the sight of the dead animal.
I know how hard I have found it working among Harijans to wean them from the
soul-destroying habit of eating carrion. Reformed tanning means the
automatic disappearance of carrion-eating.
Well, here is the use for high intelligence and the art of dissection. Here
is also a mighty step in the direction of cow-preservation. The cow must die
at the hands of the butcher, unless we learn the art of increasing her
capacity of milk-giving, unless we improve her stock and make her male
progeny more useful for the field and carrying burdens, unless we make
scientific use of all her excreta as manure, and unless, when she and hers
die, we are prepared to make the wisest use of her hide, bone, flesh,
I am just now concerned only with the carcass. It is well to remember here
that the village tanner, thank God, has to deal only with the carcass, not
the slaughtered animal. He has no means of bringing the dead animal in a
decent way. He lifts it, drags it, and this injures the skin and reduces the
value of the hide. If the villagers and the public knew the priceless and
noble service the tanner renders, they will provide easy and simple methods
of carrying it, so as not to injure the skin at all.
The next process is flaying the animal. This requires great skill. I am told
that none, not even surgeons, do this work better or more expeditiously than
the village tanner does with his village knife. I have inquired of those who
should know. They have not been able to show me an improvement upon the
village tanner. This is not to say that there is none better. I merely give
the reader the benefit of my own very limited experience. The village tanner
has no use for the bone. He throws it away. Dogs hover round the carcass
whilst it is flayed, and take away some, if not all, of the bones. This is a
dead loss to the country. The bones, if powdered fine, apart from their
other uses, make valuable manure. What remains after the dogs have taken
away their share is transported to foreign countries and returns to us in
the shape of handles, buttons, etc.
The second way is urbanizing this great industry. There are several
tanneries in India doing this work. Their examination is outside the scope
of this article. This urbanization can do little good to the Harijans, much
less to the villages. It is a process of double drain from the villages.
Urbanization in India is slow but sure death for her villages and villagers.
Urbanization can never support ninety per cent of India's population, which
is living in her 7,00,000 villages. To remove from these villages tanning
and such other industries is to remove what little opportunity there still
is for making skilled use of the hand and the head. And when the village
handicrafts disappear, the villagers working only with their cattle on the
field, with idleness for six or four months in the year, must, in the words
of Madhusudan Das, be reduced to the level of the beast and be without
proper nourishment, either of the mind or the body, and, therefore, without
joy and without hope.
Here is work for the cent per cent Swadeshi lover and scope for the
harnessing of technical skill to the solution of a great problem. The work
fells three apples with one throw. It serves the Harijans, it serves the
villagers, and it means honourable employment for the middle class
intelligentsia who are in search of employment. Add to this the fact that
intelligentsia have a proper opportunity of coming in direct touch with the
H., 7-9-’34, p.236-37
Villages would prepare their own soap from
sajji-clay. That soap will not have the luring fragrance of soaps turned out in the
factories of Tata and Godrej. Its packing also will not be so attractive.
But it will have the quality of self-sufficiency even like Khadi.
Khadi- Why and How, 1959, p. 185
I was told that, if there were enough orders, the paper could be supplied at
the same cost as the mill-made article. I know that hand-made paper can
never supply the daily growing demand for paper. But lovers of the seven
hundred thousand villages and their handicrafts will always want to use
hand-made paper, if it is easily procurable. Those who use hand-made paper
know that it has a charm of its own. Who does not know the famous Ahmedabad
paper? What mill-made paper can beat it in durability or polish?
The account-books of the old style are still made of that paper. But it is
probably a perishing industry like many such others. With a little
encouragement, it ought never to perish. If there was supervision, the
processes might be improved and the defects that are to be noticed with some
of this hand-made paper may be easily removed. The economic condition of the
numberless people engaged in these little known trades is well worth
investigating. They will surely allow themselves to be guided and advised
and feel thankful to those who would take interest in them<.
H., 14-9-’34, p.234
The ink with which I am writing comes from Tenali. It supports about 12
workers. It is making headway against odds. I had three more specimens sent
to me by different makers, all no doubt struggling like the Tenali group.
They interested me. I entered into correspondence with them. But I could do
no more for them. A Swadeshi organization will examine the samples of these
inks in a scientific manner and guide them and encourage the most promising
ones. It is a good and growing industry requiring expert chemical knowledge.
H., 14-9-’34, p.241
If we want and believe that the village should not only survive but also
become strong and flourishing, then the village perspective is the only
correct viewpoint. If this is true then in our exhibitions there can be
no place for the glamour and pomp of the cities. There should be no
necessity for games and other entertainments that belong to the cities. An
exhibition should not become a tamasha;
nor a source of income; it should never become the advertising medium for
traders. No sales should be allowed there. Even Khadi and village industry
products should not be sold. An exhibition should be a medium of education,
should be attractive and it should be such as to infuse in the villager the
impulse to take to some industry or the other. It should bring out the
glaring defects and drawbacks in the present day village life, and show
methods to be adopted to set them right. It should also be able to indicate
the extent of achievement in that direction ever since the idea of village
uplift was sponsored. It should also teach how to make village life
Now let us see what an exhibition will be like if it is to conform to the
1. There should be two models of villages— one as existing today and the other an
improved one. The improved village will be clean all throughout. Its
houses, its roads, its surroundings and its fields will be all clean. The
condition of the cattle should also improve. Books, charts, and pictures
should be used to show what industries give increased income and how.
2. It must show how to conduct the various village industries, wherefrom to obtain the
needed implements, how to make them. The actual working of each industry
should be demonstrated. Along with these the following should also find
a) Ideal village diet;
b) Comparison between village industry and machine industry;
c) Model lessons on rearing animals;
d) Art section;
e) Model of village latrine;
f) Farm-yard manure, v. chemical manure;
g) Utilization of hides, bones, etc. of animals;
h) Village music, musical instruments, village dramas;
i) Village games, village akhadas and forms of exercise;
j) Nai Talim;
k) Village medicine;
l) Village maternity home.
Subject to the policy enunciated in the beginning, this list may be further
expanded. What I have indicated is by way of example only, it should not be
taken to be exhaustive. I have not made any mention of the Gharkha and
other village industries as they are taken for granted. Without them the
exhibition will be absolutely useless.
Gram Udyog Patrika, July 1946