Much before 'Make in India', Gandhi taught self-reliance
Though the 'Make-in-India' initiative to encourage self-reliance in the country was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, its seeds were sown several decades ago by the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi.
Gandhi had promoted the use of 'Khadi' clothing in the 1920s as a twin-pronged approach for empowering people with technology on the one hand and for opposing the commercial interests of the British on the other, eminent Gandhians told IANS.
The Khadi movement had the objectives of boycotting imported foreign cloth and promoting the spinning of khadi for self-employment.
'Technology is a powerful tool when it is given in the hands of people. Gandhi had promoted this alternative technology in the textile sector that was affordable to people. The vision behind the movement was to make people self-reliant which ultimately led to fearlessness. The basic philosophy behind the movement was to empower people with technology so that they became fearless. This philosophy is relevant in the present day as well because people should be economically self-reliant,' A. Annamalai, Director, National Gandhi Museum told IANS.
Another Gandhian philosopher Ravindra Kumar, former Vice-Chancellor of Meerut University, told IANS it was Gandhi's foresight that he launched his campaign against foreign clothes in 1917 but took to the Khadi movement only in 1920.
'These three years were spent in acclimatising people in the production of alternate clothing. It was an economic philosophy and was an essential part of the national movement as well,' said Kumar.
According to experts on Gandhian philosophy, the Khadi movement was also a step towards Gandhi's concept of Swarajya or self-governance. The promotion of Khadi by Gandhi was aimed at achieving self-sufficiency and was also aimed at promoting indigenous cottage industries.
Experts said Gandhi had the foresight to believe that the national movement to free the country from the yoke of colonial rule, which was impoverishing the people, could be achieved only if economic self-sufficiency of the masses grew.
'Khadi has its relevance in present day India because it is a symbol of the country's culture. It is also relevant as a symbol of the Swadeshi concept of indigenousness. A significant section of India's population uses Khadi clothing even today. That's because the fabric is suitable for the hot and humid climate of the country. It is not only a symbol of refinement but a symbol of necessity so far as clothing is considered as a basic need of man like food and shelter,' added Kumar.