Mahatma Gandhi will smile at this. After decades of struggling with the burden of legacy as a symbol of India's freedom struggle, khadi finally gets to shake off its moldy image and spin a success yarn.
As part of an initiative taken by Minister of State for Commerce Jairam Ramesh, the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) will be granted the status of Export Promotion Council (EPC). This will help the khadi commission get financial assistance that umbrella EPCs like the Federation of Indian Export Organisation (FIEO) get.
It will also help KVIC get to the global stage - its proposals for participation in international fairs and organising buyer-seller meets will get the official nod without much of a hassle.
KVIC operates through 30 khadi and village boards and runs over 5,000 institutions in different states. In 2004-05, KVIC exported goods worth only Rs 39 crore when its total production was valued at Rs 462 crore.
With khadi exports projected to grow to around Rs 300 crore in the next five years, Ramesh believes the status of EPC will help KVIC reach the global market. Apart from khadi, KVIC 'village produce' include herbal products, handmade paper, agarbatti, handicrafts and processed foods. These products, pegged at Rs 10,460 crore, are at present registered with different export promotion councils.
The Ministry of Commerce has also been promoting Export Promotion Councils in special projects under the Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY) of the Department of Rural Development.
Six EPCs with the potential to create employment for women and the weaker sections have been identified. These are: Council for Leather Exports(CLE), Shellac and Forest Products Export Promotion Council (SHEFEXIL), Pharmaceutical Export Promotion Council (PHARMEXIL), Cashew Export Promotion Council(CEPC), Export Promotion Council for Handicrafts( EPCH) and Apparel Export Promotion Council (AEPC).
The Department of Rural Development has now cleared four projects submitted by SHEFEXIL with 100 per cent central assistance. It will help 53,000 people, that is 5,300 self-help groups across eight states of India.
The four special projects are: proposal for guar cultivation in Haryana, Rajasthan, and Gujarat, increasing lac cultivation in West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Chattisgarh, another lac project in Patalkot and Chhindwara areas of Madhya Pradesh, and cheronjee cultivation in Amarwara region of Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh. The other identified five EPCs are in the process of finalising their project reports.