By Shubhra Agrawal
The Uttar Pradesh government has announced a new policy that aims to promote Khadi. Following the Gujarat government, there will now be a 15 percent subsidy on Khadi products, as compared to 10 percent implemented in all the other states. A Khadi blanket manufacturing unit, closed in 2009, was reopened and the state government announced that plans to reopen seven other manufacturing units were also in the pipeline.
Clothes and History?
Politics and clothes have been closely related since time immemorial. Clothes have been used as a means by the masses to express their dissatisfaction. Over time, clothes and the style of dressing have evolved to be subtle status symbols.
For example, during the World War II, women’s fashion began to favour slimmer silhouettes and shorter hemlines. The materials had to be used to make war equipment and this had brought about a change in the way women got dressed. As more women joined factories to earn bread for the family, the popularity of pants increased due to the ease they provided. During the Cold War years, when everyone who stood out was at risk of being accused of being a Communist, modesty and conformity were the name of the game.
Modern Fashionistas and their domain of influence
We have seen numerous political figures use their fashion statements to express their support for various causes. The Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton is always seen stepping out dressed in outfits designed by British artists.
In early February this year, Beyonce stepped onto a football stadium followed by dancers dressed in all black, a tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement. Visiting state diplomats often pick designers from the country they are visiting, in order to send a message of friendship and warmth.
Khadi and India?
During the British colonization, Khadi developed as a symbol of retaliation and perseverance. The civil rights movement focused on projecting India as a self-sustaining force, one that could provide employment to its own people; Khadi and salt were two industries that were pushed to the forefront, showing India’s indigenous powers.
As time progressed, with the Industrial revolution, cheaper alternatives were found and the Khadi industry receded from the limelight. Millions of weavers lost their jobs and the industry got shut down.
Narendra Modi’s Khadi jackets have pushed the fabric back into the limelight. With the government’s persistent efforts, there is a possibility that the sales might expand and the fabric might gain prominence once again. Much of Khadi’s popularity today is attributed to Modi’s style statement and the huge fan following that he seems to enjoy.
After yoga, Modi now wants to take Khadi across borders as the global brand image for the country. It is in this bid that the mills shut down for years, are being reopened. The rebirth of Khadi would also ensure a bright future for the thousands of cotton farmers and weavers who would get back their jobs.
Whether Khadi can sustain itself and increase sales when the subsidies are removed is something that only time will tell.
Featured Image Source: Pixabay
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