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To take khadi abroad, govt writes to UN refugee agency

The Khadi and Village Industries Commission has written to UNHCR to use India’s signature homespun fabric at its camps.

india Updated: May 31, 2017 14:04 IST
Moushumi Das Gupta
Shoppers at a night market organised by the state khadi board in Jharkhand’s Ranchi. Jharkhand is one of the seven states where government employees wear khadi to work at least once a week.
Shoppers at a night market organised by the state khadi board in Jharkhand’s Ranchi. Jharkhand is one of the seven states where government employees wear khadi to work at least once a week. (Diwakar Prasad/ HT file photo )

After aggressively pushing khadi at home, the Modi government wants to take the homespun cotton abroad.

The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), has written to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to use the traditional fabric in its field operations and camps.

“This not only provides convenience, comfort and health benefits to those that are displaced in alien lands, it also in the same breath supports self-reliance and sustainable livelihoods to millions of rural Indians who live by this heritage profession,” KVIC chairman VK Saxena has written to UNHCR chief Fillipo Grandi.

KVIC is a government-run body for the promotion of handloom and cottage industry.

By promoting khadi’s use in offices, hospitals, railways and airlines, the Modi government has scripted a turnaround for the homespun fabric closely associated with India’s freedom struggle.

The image of Mahatma Gandhi sitting at a spinning wheel, or charkha, for long promoted khadi in the country.

Saxena said the UN refugee agency could use khadi material for tents and KVIC’s, blankets, carpets and clothing at its camps.

The UNHCR is yet to respond to the proposal.

“If the UNHCR agrees, KVIC is willing to provide khadi products at a cost that is as per the UN agency’s operational requirements,” Saxena said.

Not just fabric, KVIC has expanded into readymade garments, groceries and personal care as well.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi been promoting the handloom fabric with the slogan “khadi for nation, khadi for fashion”.

Government employees in seven states, including BJP-ruled Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat, wear khadi to work at least once a week.

KVIC’s annual turnover went up to Rs 51, 997 crore in 2016-17 from Rs 37,000 crore in 2015-16.

“Through our village industries we have been able to generate 4.69 lakh jobs in 2016-17 across villages and urban centres,” Saxena said.

Around 2,356 khadi units are functional in the country, around 157 of these were revived after 2014.