Khadi activists  upset with govt policies , resolve to fight

Khadi Workshop at Sevagram : Government should repeal Khadi Mark Regulation

Senior Gandhian leaders and Khadi activists have expressed anguish over the plight of the Khadi due to wrong policies of the government. They have resolved to put up a struggle for the revival of Khadi which epitomised freedom struggle and Mahatma Gandhi. A 14 point action programme  was placed for the revival and rejuvenation of Khadi.

The  Workshop on relevance of Khadi and recent legislations of Government of India  was  organised by Sevagram Ashram Pratishthan and Sarva Seva Sangh , Sevagram, Wardha on  June 23-24 June 2022 at premises of the Sevagram Ashram which  discussed threadbare  how the recent legislations which  are affecting the  sector . The key issues discussed in the course of two days included  Khadi Mark Regulations 2013, GST, Modified Marketing Development Assistance (MMDA) Scheme, equitable mortgage, direct benefit transfer (DBT) of wages and payments, loan waiver,  the recent amendment flag code of India and all other issues related to the sector.  The participants also briefed the audience about the Khadi   work of their organization or network and highlighted the key issues in the sector due to bureaucratic control, red tapism and corrupt practices.

Khadi Mark Regulations 2013 was one of the issues discussed in the workshop. It was brought into limelight when the regulation was approved despite the stiff opposition from Khadi institutions in the meeting held at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi. After getting the Presidential node for the regulation the new government came into power. The government pressured the khadi institutions to register for the Khadi Mark.  Some of them stated they tried to keep their organizations away from Khadi Mark regulation and finally were forced to oblige the cumbersome process of registration. The Khadi institutions expenditure has increased tremendously due to various procedures like Khadi mark registration process, audit etc. Some of the participants even went to the extent of saying that this regulation is suicidal for the sector and it resulted in excessive bureaucratic and government control. It was brought into the attention that even with consistent efforts some are not getting KVIC certification. Through Khadi India trade mark other products are marketed and sold encashing the name of Khadi.  

Khadi workshop at Sevagram Wardha

Taking Khadi Mark Regulation is like getting a pollution certificate by paying the money. You pay the money and you are certified. Even if your vehicle is creating pollution you can overcome it by paying the money and having a certificate. If you don’t have a certificate you will be penalized. Certification is the criterion to decide whether Khadi is genuine or not. Even if you are producing genuine and pure Khadi without certification it is spurious. There is a double policy of the Khadi mark. The producing institutions have to take Khadi certificate as well as Khadi mark whereas implementing institutions have to take only Khadi Mark.  It was suggested that if any institution is not taking the Khadi mark let the KVIC take action and go to the court. The Khadi institutions should not spend their energy by approaching courts to prove the genuineness of their Khadi. The people will understand it through its transparent and dedicated work in the field.  Trust, transparency and traceability are guiding principles in our mission of Khadi work.  We have to think about options like Asarkari,  Akhadi , lokvastra, saswat vastra, harita vastra etc. 

Some expressed the view that leaving the name of  Khadi is equivalent to giving up the name of Gandhi. We should fight against it like Gandhi fought against Salt laws. It was pointed out that   Khadi Mark Regulations/ Trade Mark   are violations of existing Acts and laws. There are certain clauses in the Trade Mark Act    by which Khadi cannot become a trade mark. Not only that   the name Khadi or Khaddar was protected even before independence in our country by  the Khaddar (Name Protection) Act, 1934  and after independence The Khaddar (Protection of Name) Act, 1950 and the section 2(d) of the Khadi and Village Industries Commission Act  of 1956 ( As Amended upto 22 March 2016) defines ‘Khadi’.The appropriateness of these new regulations and trademarks need careful examination from the legal point of view. If necessary we should resort to legal action. The participants expressed grave concern about the sharp reduction in employment in the sector due to the new policies. It was decided in the workshop that Satygraha and legal measures should be taken for the repeal of Khadi Mark Regulation 2013 and policies which are affecting the sector.

14 point action programme 

The following resolutions/ follow up actions passed in the Workshop after thorough discussion.

1. Regarding Khadi Mark Regulation 2013, in the case of those who have already registered, if they wish they may continue. If necessary, Sarva Seva Sangh will go to the court for the repeal of the Regulation.

2. Only a few are implementing GST and the rest of the institutions are not following the same. The matter may be taken up by the State federations of Khadi institutions with the finance Minister and the help of Chartered accountants would be sought on matters relating to GST. Benefits and wages should be under DBT and decided to write to the government for loan waiver. 

4.  Decided to demand the repeal of the recent amendment Flag Code of India adding polyester machine made cloth with Khadi for the manufacture of National Flag. Write letters to the Prime Minister, President and parliamentarians.

5. Khadi India Trade mark should not be used to sell non khadi products

6. Decided to demand the amendment of the KVIC circular on Equitable Mortgage.

7. Appreciated the efforts of India Handmade Collective and decided to extend support wherever required.

8. Definition of Khadi should be expanded to include clothes produced from natural products like Banana, Jute, bamboo etc.

 9. Define solar khadi and to see how it can be added to the Khadi sector.

10. Undertake Satyagraha on issues related to Khadi/ Artisans.   Dates and other details would be decided later. 

11. Contact educational institutions for the propagation of Khadi and Gandhian thought. Demand the introduction of Khadi uniforms at School.

12. Fair wages should be given to artisans, spinners, weavers, and others involved in the sector and data regarding the same should be available.

13 Research and development in the sector and small machines should be made available for making small quantities of slivers ctc.

14. Decided to organize Demonstration of Spinning at 75 places in India   coinciding with 75 th anniversary and it will be widely publicized. The proposed time is 9 to 11.5 am  

About 50 persons including representatives of certified Khadi institutions, institutions/  and those who have not taken khadi certification/mark, professionals/organizations/ networks working in the sector, representatives of Gandhian organizations and institutions, young persons  who have keen interest in the field  participated.

 They  participants represented Punjab Khadi Mandal, Jalandar; Kshetriya Punjab Khadi Mandal Pathankot; Kheti Virasat,Faridkot; Kala, Rajkot;Swadhya Ashram, Panipat; Khadi Ashram Sansthan, Panipat; Kshetriya Punjab Khadi Mandal, Panipat;Khadi Gramodayog Vikas Mandal, Ujjain; Madhya Bharat  Khadi Sangh, Gwalior; Sarvodaya Mission, Indore; Mahatma Gandhi Seva Ashram, Jora;Gandhi Research Foundation, Jalgaon; Uttar Pradesh Gandhi Smarak Nidhi, Lucknow; Banwasi Ashram, UP; India Handmade Collective; Udyog Mandir, Jaipur; Khadi Gramodyog Vikas Samity, Bikaner; Khadi Mandir, Bikaner; Vinoba Ashram, Jatan, Gram Seva Mandal, Wardha;Magan Sangrahalya Samiti, Wardha; Nai Talim Samiti, Wardha, Gandhi Smrark Nidhi, New Delhi, Sarva Seva Sangh, Wardha and Sevagram Ashram Pratishthan , Wardha  and other organizations and institutions.

Khadi activists meeting at Sevagram Wardha
Khadi activists meeting at Sevagram Wardha

A firm resolve to rejuvenate Khadi 

The workshop concluded with a firm resolve to rejuvenate Khadi and remain connected with each other and participate in the follow up actions and programmes.  In the inaugural session, Shri Ashok  Sharan, Managing  Trustee of Sarva Seva Sangh and Former Director , Khadi and Village industries Commission (KVIC) in his introductory remarks threw light on the  background for calling the workshop to rejuvenate Khadi.

Shri Chandanpal, President Sarva Seva Sangh  stated that the attack on khadi is an attack on Gandhi and Gandhian thought. We have to think and act judiciously.

Shri Ramchandra Rahi, President Gandhi Smarak Nidhi, New Delhi  , a veteran Gandhian activist stated that  he is ready to go to jail even at  the age of  86 years in opposition to Khadi Mark Regulation and  other policies of the government.

Shri TRN Prabhu, President of Sevagram Ashram Pratishthan welcomed the participants  and gave a brief introduction about the grave issues in the sector .

Dr. Siby K. Joseph, Director of Sri Jamnalal Bajaj Memorial Library Research Centre, Sevagram Ashram Pratishthan proposed a vote of thanks at the inaugural session. Shri Ashok Sharan guided and moderated the discussions in the course of two days.

The workshop concluded with a vote of thanks from Shri Gaurang Mohapatra, Secretary, Sarva Seva Sangh , Sevagram on behalf of organizers.

 (This report was prepared by Dr. Siby K. Joseph, Director of Sri Jamnalal Bajaj Memorial Library Research Centre, Sevagram Ashram Pratishthan, Sevagram Wardha-442102 Email:directorjbmlrc@gmail.com on behalf of the organisers)

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