Visitors at the Khadi Gram Udyog pavilion during Trade Fair in New Delhi, 2016.(Sonu Mehta/HT Photo)
Visitors at the Khadi Gram Udyog pavilion during Trade Fair in New Delhi, 2016.(Sonu Mehta/HT Photo)

The war over Khadi: What it means for aspirant buyers of India’s freedom fabric

Just before the working week ended on Saturday, the state-run Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) fired off a legal notice to Fabindia, saying it should stop selling garments in the name of khadi.
By Shefalee Vasudev | LiveMint
UPDATED ON FEB 14, 2017 08:55 AM IST

A khadi war is looming. Just before the working week ended on Saturday, the state-run Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) fired off a legal notice to Fabindia, saying it should stop selling garments in the name of khadi.

KVIC’s media cell called it a “strongly worded legal notice” that stressed its ownership over brand khadi, a symbol of India’s freedom struggle that went on to become the uniform of choice for post-independence politicians and has now evolved into a fashion statement. “The organisation (Fabindia) was continuing to sell its garments in the name and style of khadi despite earlier warnings by KVIC and assurances by Fabindia that it will not do so. It is an illegal act and amounts to indulging in unfair trade practice,” said the notice.

KVIC threatened Fabindia with legal action if it did not stop the practice immediately.

KVIC chairman VK Saxena cited the KVIC Act of 1956 and the Khadi Mark Regulations of 2003—notified by the Union ministry for micro, small and medium enterprises—to say “no product can be sold as khadi without the khadi Mark tag. Not only that, any private brand or producer of khadi must buy khadi from a government-cleared khadi institution. This is the only way to protect khadi artisans”.

Brands that sell khadi products or garments must, in accordance with the law, apply for a khadi mark regulation certificate — a 45-day process.

“Rs 10,000 as fee for the certificate and a list of 25 spinners and five weavers is all we seek. Anyone can sell khadi as long as they follow KVIC’s checks and balances and follow regulations,” said Saxena.

Equally, Fabindia Overseas Pvt Ltd, established in 1960, claims to run the country’s largest retail platform for goods produced by artisans who live largely in rural areas.

Fabindia CEO Viney Singh said in an emailed statement: “We are in receipt of the notice and have responded to KVIC, requesting a meeting with the designated authorities to understand the issues that have been raised, and to resolve them.”

KVIC’s increasing assertion of its legal ownership of Khadi has made companies like Raymond apply for a regulation certification last year to sell khadi fabrics, according to Saxena. However, many other khadi players remain unaware about the obligation.

Read | The fight between KVIC and Fabindia on Khadi tag is more than just a brand war

That’s exactly the warp and weft of the brand khadi story. What must consumers make of what is sold as khadi?

Khadi exponent Rta Kapur Chishti’s label Taanbaan uses handspun, handwoven khadi made on the traditional spinning wheel but nowhere does her brand spell out khadi.

According to Chishti, most, if not all, of what is paraded as khadi is from semi-mechanised ambar charkhas. “Desi charkhas have been completely forsaken because they are slow in production.”

For the aspiring khadi wearer, its brand value as the fabric of freedom endorsed by the greatest handloom marketer of all time, Mahatma Gandhi, is clear. Less clear is what makes for khadi—whether it is handspun, or spun on ambar charkhas, or industrial charkhas.

Under the ambiguities, there is a messy khadi war challenging the notion that khadi’s economic growth and “protection of rural artisans” are the exclusive preserve of the government. KVIC may need to do a lot of efficient and unbiased work to employ vigilance. Taking out the many spurious khadi outlets is one.

Meanwhile, one important question remains: whose khadi is it anyway?

Nikita Doval and Sounak Mitra contributed to this story

Read | Modi ‘replaces’ Gandhi in Khadi Udyog stationery, workers to hold silent protest

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Digital payments in India could rise to $135.2 billion in 2023, according to an Assocham-PWC India study in 2019.(Bloomberg)
Digital payments in India could rise to $135.2 billion in 2023, according to an Assocham-PWC India study in 2019.(Bloomberg)

Reliance partners with Google, Facebook for digital payment network bid

Reuters, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 05:12 PM IST
  • Facebook and Google are already partnered with Reliance and own stakes in Jio Platforms
Close
Its education arm, known as Dali, meaning “big force” in English, was established last year and offers everything from pre-school programs to adult education and smart learning devices.(AP)
Its education arm, known as Dali, meaning “big force” in English, was established last year and offers everything from pre-school programs to adult education and smart learning devices.(AP)

ByteDance to hire 13k new employees, explore China's education technology

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 04:40 PM IST
ByteDance, the owner of the short video app TikTok, said that it will hire 10,000 educational professionals, including tutors and course designers, in China over the next four months,
Close
A neighborhood experiencing a power outage after winter weather caused electricity blackouts in San Marcos, Texas, US on February 16, 2021.(Reuters Photo )
A neighborhood experiencing a power outage after winter weather caused electricity blackouts in San Marcos, Texas, US on February 16, 2021.(Reuters Photo )

Texas’s power market is $1.3 billion short after energy crisis

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 02:31 PM IST
On Friday, the grid operator announced it would cover part of the shortfall with $800 million in congestion revenues, money generated from trading bottlenecks on the grid that is supposed to be returned to consumers.
Close
Following the acquisition of Dynamic Yield, McDonald’s executives called it a central part of the company’s evolving digital strategy.(Reuters)
Following the acquisition of Dynamic Yield, McDonald’s executives called it a central part of the company’s evolving digital strategy.(Reuters)

McDonald's to sell part of its artificial intelligence start-up

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 12:06 PM IST
The company works with other clients besides McDonald’s, and that business has grown since the acquisition and now works with 300 other brands globally.
Close
Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries. (Reuters File Photo)
Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director of Reliance Industries. (Reuters File Photo)

Mukesh Ambani is again richest Asian as China’s Zhong loses $22 billion

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 09:45 AM IST
Ambani spent most of the past two years leading the ranking of Asia’s richest people, taking over from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Jack Ma.
Close
The fall in gold prices led to buying and a surge of demand across the country.(Reuters)
The fall in gold prices led to buying and a surge of demand across the country.(Reuters)

Weekly wrap: After early surge, gold prices fall for last 3 days

By hindustantimes.com, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 27, 2021 09:33 AM IST
  • Gold set off to a brighter start at the beginning of the week as the price of the precious metal went up by 278 to 46,013 per 10 grams on Monday.
Close
The RBI report also suggested changes in the inflation targeting framework for better transparency, accountability and operational efficiency.(REUTERS)
The RBI report also suggested changes in the inflation targeting framework for better transparency, accountability and operational efficiency.(REUTERS)

RBI in favour of retaining inflation target for 5 years

By Gopika Gopakumar, Livemint, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 04:47 AM IST
Under India’s flexible inflation targeting (FIT) approach, the central bank is expected to work to maintain retail inflation at 4%, with an upper tolerance limit of 6% and a lower limit of 2%.
Close
The agencies also made the recommendation based on “the nature of China Telecom’s US operations,” which they said allow Chinese government actors “to engage in malicious cyber activity.(Mint)
The agencies also made the recommendation based on “the nature of China Telecom’s US operations,” which they said allow Chinese government actors “to engage in malicious cyber activity.(Mint)

Telecom sector revenues back at pre-Jio levels

By Ishita Guha, Livemint, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 04:43 AM IST
According to data released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), net mobile revenues rose 4.5% sequentially to $25 billion in the December quarter. The last time the sector had earned $25 billion was in April-June of calendar year 2016.
Close
Indian shares fell in line with Thursday’s rout in the US after Treasury yields rose to their highest level in a year.(REUTERS)
Indian shares fell in line with Thursday’s rout in the US after Treasury yields rose to their highest level in a year.(REUTERS)

Indian shares crash as panic grips bond, global markets

By Nasrin Sultana, Livemint, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 04:36 AM IST
On Friday, the benchmark Sensex fell 1,939 points, or 3.78%, to 49,099.99, the biggest daily drop since 4 May 2020. The 50-share Nifty index declined 3.78% to 14,529, led by banks and financial services stocks.
Close
To be sure, the Indian economy will still face its largest ever contraction in the current fiscal year.(AP file photo. Representative image)
To be sure, the Indian economy will still face its largest ever contraction in the current fiscal year.(AP file photo. Representative image)

India out of recession as GDP expands 0.4% in Q3

By Roshan Kishore, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 27, 2021 02:43 AM IST
India’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew at 0.4% on a year-on-year basis in the quarter ending December 2020, according to data released by the National Statistical Office (NSO) on February 26.
Close
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala(PTI)
Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala(PTI)

'Hit by double whammy of low growth, high inflation': Cong on economy's state 

Edited by Prashasti Singh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 10:21 PM IST
The Congress responded to the data and said the government spent a lot less than what was needed to revive the Indian economy.
Close
India's largest stock exchange, NSE announced on Wednesday it shut at 11:40am local time because of a telecoms problem.(MINT_PRINT)
India's largest stock exchange, NSE announced on Wednesday it shut at 11:40am local time because of a telecoms problem.(MINT_PRINT)

India's NSE defends reopening market after exchange's shutdown

Posted by Kunal Gaurav | Reuters, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 09:08 PM IST
Brokers had criticised the NSE over the lack of information after the four-hour shutdown on Wednesday.
Close
The sun is seen behind a crude oil pump jack in the Permian Basin in Loving County, Texas, US.(REUTERS)
The sun is seen behind a crude oil pump jack in the Permian Basin in Loving County, Texas, US.(REUTERS)

Oil slumps with wider markets, denting record start to 2021

Bloomberg
UPDATED ON FEB 26, 2021 06:52 PM IST
The demand outlook has improved, with traders and investment banks this week making a series of bullish calls and upward price revisions.
Close
There is also another plan at <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>1,499 that offers a JioPhone device, unlimited voice calls and data (2GB high-speed data every month) for one year(Reuters File Photo)
There is also another plan at 1,499 that offers a JioPhone device, unlimited voice calls and data (2GB high-speed data every month) for one year(Reuters File Photo)

Reliance Jio launches new unlimited plans to usher in '2G-mukt Bharat'

ANI, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 06:47 PM IST
  • According to the plan, new users will get a JioPhone device, unlimited voice calls and data (2GB high-speed data every month) for two years at 1,999.
Close
The lockdown imposed to curb spreading of coronavirus infections had significantly impacted business activities and in turn contributed to sluggish revenue realisation. (Representative Image)(BLOOMBERG NEWS)
The lockdown imposed to curb spreading of coronavirus infections had significantly impacted business activities and in turn contributed to sluggish revenue realisation. (Representative Image)(BLOOMBERG NEWS)

Fiscal deficit rises to 12.34 lakh crore at end of January

PTI
PUBLISHED ON FEB 26, 2021 06:41 PM IST
The fiscal deficit at the end of January in the previous financial year was 128.5% of the Revised Estimates (RE).
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP