What is Khadi?
Khadi means handspun and handwoven cloth. In 1918 Mahatma Gandhi started his movement for Khadi as relief programme for the poor masses living in India's villages. Spinning and weaving was elevated to an ideology for self-reliance and selfgovernment. Every village shall plant and harvest its own raw-materials for yarn, every woman and man shall engage in spinning and every village shall weave whatever is needed for its own use. In the first half of this century, and in many parts even now, farmers have not enough work to earn their living through out the year. About four months they may be idle due to the rainless dry season. Spinning would thereby supply the readist occupation; it can easily be learnt. It requires practically no outlay or capital, even an improved spinning wheel can be easily and cheaply made. Gandhi saw it as the end of dependency on foreign materials (symbolizing foreign rule) and thus giving a first lesson or real independence. Raw materials at that time were entirely exported to England and then re-imported as costly finished cloth, depriving the local population of work and profits on it. Gandhi also felt that in a county where manual labor was looked down upon, it was an occupation to bring high and low, rich and poor together, to show them the dignity of hand-labor. He asked not only of those in need, but of every person to do spinning at least about one hour per day as sacrifice to his county, as duty towards the poor. He hoped for a certain bond of unity between the classes and masses by bridging the gap with a common occupation, and he saw great social value in hand-spinning. It was for economic, cultural and social reasons and not merely political that Gandhi established the Khadi Movement. In 1934-35 he expanded the idea from helping the poor individual to self-reliance of whole villages. In 1942-43 he had sessions with workers groups and village organizers to re-organize the whole programme on a bigger country-wide scale. Thus Khadi is not mere a piece of cloth but a way of life.