Centuries ago, the British came to India as mere tradesmen, awe-inspired by the bounty of natural and man-made resources this land could offer. They stayed to colonize us and eventually introduced in India, synthetic fibre among other things. The advent of the industrial revolution compounded by the consolidated supremacy of the British in India reduced the Indian exports to Britain, and gradually, cheap machine made goods from England profilerated the Indian market. As a result traditional textile industry declined steadily.
Wearing the colonizer’s clothes conveyed a certain class and sophistication, while the indigenous hand spun, hand loom garment was perceived as antithetic to the colonizer’s civilizing mission, so much so that wearing traditional clothes in British India was shunned upon, and sometimes even criminalized. It is at this juncture that Mahatma Gandhi discovered a powerful instrument in Khadi to voice out resistance to all things that threatened autonomy and freedom of individuals, and the society. Khadi became the mark of common people and an integral part of the nation building process; a spirit of protest, industry and human integrity. The Charkha on the other hand, evinced the spirit of sustainability- sustainability of not just the idea of swadeshi or home-grown but also its expression, by spinning and weaving oneself. The world as it is today calls for different lifestyle choices. The idea is to offer Khadi and a slow lifestyle for those who seek it.
It has been over 70 years since the British were forced to exit, but we still have been unable to wipe out their influence entirely, whether in the institutions, instruments of customary practices, or even clothing. While the British may have left us, today we are colonized by greater evils, the compounding effects of which are causing irreparable damage to the environment, human health, and human freedoms and sovereignty. The good news though, is that, there is scope for redemption with immediate intervention. And even after a century of its discovery as a tool of liberation, we have the answer in Khadi, which is not only just a sustainable piece of clothing, but one that has the potential to show us a sustainable way of life.
Through the Khadi, designed, spun, woven, and created at Janapada Khadi, we explore the possibility of human freedom, creativity, and energy as a credible alternative to synthetic, industrial goods made at scale and at throwaway prices. Every inch of Khadi made at Janapada Khadi comes out of a transparent value chain, supporting about a dozen craftsmen, involved in about a dozen crafts. An opportunity to experience the Janapada Khadi takes you one step closer towards creating a nonviolent future, with its ethical business practices and a favourable work environment which assures and protects freedom of those involved. This has been possible because of the unique positioning of Janapada Khadi as an enterprise that is centred around improving human personality unlike modern production systems centred around material production, and profit maximization.