Wednesday 10 April 2019

Gandhiji, Swadeshi Spirit And Handloom

During a seminar in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, when I was addressing a room full of youth, I asked them, “How many of you have at least one handloom garment in your wardrobe?” I was shocked to see that just a few hands went up. I urged everyone to choose handloom garments the next time they go shopping.
What is stopping us from wearing garments manufactured in India and adopting the ‘swadeshi’ spirit like what our father of the nation, Gandhiji, advocated?
Swadeshi Spirit
To quote Mahatma Gandhi:
Swadeshi is that spirit in us which restricts us to the use and service of our immediate surroundings to the exclusion of the more remote... Swadeshi, for me, has a deeper meaning. I would like us to apply it in our religious, political and economic life. It is not, therefore, merely confined to wearing on occasions a Swadeshi cloth. That we have to do for all time, not out of a spirit of jealousy or revenge but because it is a duty we owe to our dear country. We commit a breach of the Swadeshi spirit certainly if we wear foreign-made cloth.”

Use and Impact of “Foreign” Goods
Why is there a craze for “foreign” goods? Why don’t we use and promote ‘Made in India” i.e. swadeshi products just like the father of our nation advocated? If a foreigner is using something, does it make the product superior? Why ape the west?
In Young India, Gandhiji wrote:
 "We are too much obsessed by the glamour of the West.”
Gandhiji believed:
“Lord Hardinge can set the fashion for Swadeshi, and almost the whole of India will forswear foreign goods.”
In Hind Swaraj, Gandhiji expressed the urgency to use swadeshi things and contribute to make India exploitation-free. The East India company forced the Indian weavers to cut off their thumbs so that they would be unable to weave. The British increased the export of their mill-made cloth. Indians were compelled to buy machine-made products. Raw materials from India were exported to England at cheap prices and then imported to India as expensive finished cloth, depriving the local population of work and profits. This ruined the Indian handloom industry that was once the envy of the world. 
Governor General William Bentinck observed:
"The bones of the cotton weavers are bleaching the plains of India. The misery hardly finds a parallel in the history of commerce.”

Gandhiji had visited Odisha and was deeply affected seeing the condition of the weavers and public. Odisha used to export a lot of cloth and other products abroad. But, the British rule ruined the market...

Encourage Swadeshi
Gandhiji stated:
“Force of public opinion, proper education, however, can do a great deal in the desired direction. The handloom industry is in a dying condition. I took special care, during my wanderings last year, to see as many weavers as possible, and my heart ached to find how they had lost, how families had retired from this once flourishing and honourable occupation.”
Gandhiji observed:
“If we would get rid of the economic slavery, we must manufacture our own cloth."
Gandhiji’s efforts encouraged the practice of swadeshi and the use of things produced locally. Reduction in dependency on foreign materials and real independence became possible.

Our choice makes a difference. 
In this 150th year of Gandhiji's birth, can we live up to what Gandhiji advocated and choose to be the change?
"Be the change you want to see."

Do you have at least one handloom garment in your wardrobe?

G for- Gandhiji
I am blogging related to Odisha, India for the #AtoZChallenge this year.

1 comment:

  1. I think often it comes down to price - stockists go where prices are lower.


Your words mean a lot to me.

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