“The handloom weaving is in a dying condition. Everyone admits that whatever may be the future of the mill industry, the handlooms ought not to be allowed to perish”. - Mahatma Gandhi’s Letter to Hermann Kallenbach, October 23, 1915Understanding the meaning of Swadeshi
“We shall reach perfection only when our cotton is spun in India on indigenous spinning-wheels and yarn so spun is woven on similarly made handlooms. But requirements of the foregoing pledge aremet, if we all only use cloth woven by means of imported machinery from yarn spun from Indian cotton by means of similar machinery”. “If a few thousand men and women were to take the Swadeshi vow in this spirit, others will try to imitate them so far as possible. They will then begin to examine their wardrobes in the light of Swadeshi. Those who are not attached to pleasures and personal adornment, I venture to say, can give a great impetus to Swadeshi”. – Mahatma Gandhi, The Bombay Chronicle, 18-4-1919The problems that the handloom weaver faced then, according to Gandhi ji
“We grow enough cotton in the country. We have any number of handlooms and spinning-wheels. India is not unused to the art of hand-spinning and hand-weaving, but somehow or other the fear has seized us that the millions will not take to hand-spinning andweavinghand-spun yarn for their own needs. A haunted man sees fear even when there is no cause for it. Andmanymore die of fright than of the actual disease”. – Mahatma Gandhi, Harijanbandhu, 2-11-1947 “Let us go to the root of the difficulty. Our initial mistake was that we took to spinning but neglectedweaving. If we had adopted universal weaving along with spinning, all these difficulties would not have arisen. The remedy is to improve the yarn so that the weavers have as little difficulty in weaving as possible”. – Mahatma Gandhi, Harijan, 20-10-1946Steps Gandhi ji felt would encourage spinning
1) Increasing the number of handlooms in India 2) Preaching that it was the imperative duty of every Indian to be satisfied for the present with comparatively coarse cloths made from yarn produced in India and to avoid using imported cloths and cloths made in India from imported yarn, however comfortable wearing these clothes may be. 3) He pointed out that if the total amount of twist and yarn produced in India at that time without the use of charkha was converted into cloth, it would practically suffice to clothe India from her own produce, supposing the country were prepared to wear coarse cloths only. As a matter of fact, about 143 million pounds of twist and yarn made in India were being exported every year from India. 4) Convert, or weaving this stuff into cloth in India and preparing the country for making the small sacrifice involved in being content for the present with the coarse cloth thus produced, the great problem of making India self-clothing within a very short time could be solved. 5) The Poser for this: Whether the existing power-looms and handlooms of India would be able to weave the above huge quantity of yarn into cloth. The answer was – given the existing situation, No.What then was to be done? Increase the number of looms?
“Textile mills have themselves to incur almost the same cost on weaving as do handlooms and mills and handlooms being mutually antagonistic. Mills do have a place the national economy of India will surely continue for many years to come, perhaps they may live forever. Mills are independent. They do get help from Swadeshi movement, and they should get it, but in saying that both handlooms and mills deserve help, the handlooms get less help ”. - Mahatma Gandhi, Comments on Galley-Proofs, January 20, 1931What is the ground reality of today?Gandhi ji’s vision for Indian Handloom CommunityIn such a scenario with so many points to justify, the consideration of withdrawal of GST for the handloom sector could provide that moral boost and impetus that is much needed to alleviate the hopelessness and despair already written on the face of the humble artisan but pride of India, to quite a significant level.About the AuthorPriyanka Ladha is CEO of , the online division of Unnati Silks Group. Unnati silks HANDLOOMS FOR WOMEN1980