The first half of the 19th century marked a world revolution in which many colonies sought strategies to send their colonizers back to their countries of origin. In the 1940s Mohandas Gandhi led the Indians into a rebellion, which forced the British out of the cotton rich country. During this period, Britons exported cotton from India, created finished products, and reached out to the same market, Canada, and North America to sell the products.
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The target countries had large populations providing requisite markets for the finished clothes made from the very cotton taken from their fields. It was important for India to set up a strong political front with excellent strategies that would help them deal with the British who controlled the Chinese Opium and Slaves in North America.
In an attempt to achieve this, Mahatma Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi thought of developing machinery that would help Indians come up with clothes instead of purchasing clothes from the British (Trivedi 18).
The Charkha became the first spinning machine to assist in making clothes in India; Gandhi owned the machine. The cloth that transformed the Indian perception towards British rule was the renowned Khadi. The Khadi has a great significance to the people of India, thus making it the point of discussion throughout this submission.
History of the Khadi
The Khadi cloth is originally from India even though the fabric’s fame goes beyond the regional platform. Not restricted to cotton, Indians make Khadi fabrics from wool and silk from the Charkha. From the Khadi, Indians made many clothes meant for the four seasons of the year, hence making it possible for the country to export its finished products. Khadi reminds the Indians of their independence and the founding father, Mahatma Gandhi.
Khadi has a rich history in India even though countries in Asia including Pakistan and Bangladesh relate to the fabric. According to Mahatma Gandhi, the Charkha and the Khadi represented civilization for the country; it enabled the country to display its potential in creating its resources and employing the huge population of youths.
Khadi’s inception to the Asian State made other British colonies realize that they also had the intellectual and economic capability to exercise independence. Before Gandhi displayed interest in the Charkha, most Indians viewed it as an ordinary spinning machine (Ramagundam 49). Following Gandhi’s mediation, the Indians realized the multiple capabilities of the machinery, thus enabling the country to come up with a national dress code.
The Khadi woven and tied across the shoulders flowing down the lower body typical of Mahatma Gandhi is exceptionally important for Indians. Considering this rich history, the rest of the word equally displayed interest in the Khadi, and the rudimentary Charkha used by Mahatma Gandhi was worth one crore Rupees in a recent auction.
This indicates its popularity and usefulness from the traditional to the contemporary period. The UK became the center of the world’s attraction after it purchased the machinery at 110, 000 pounds in England.
Modified from a small, portable, and simple spinning machine, Mahatma Gandhi designed the Charkha into a big machine that would spin from two different sides. To make the Khadi, the Indians required spinning machinery that would turn the cotton into wearable attire. Woven together from two successive directions, the cotton became clothes and it had loose ends that made it aesthetic.
Charkha remained an important element of Indian history; this earned the country a reputation after a British national purchased it for thousands of pounds. Mahatma Gandhi transformed the Charkha – increasing its traditional capabilities by enabling it to weave silk, cotton, and wool. The Charkha was symbolic to Indians in different ways. Some of the symbolic features are discussed below.
The Charkha enabled Indian residents to use a platform through which they would exercise freedom. The Charkha and the Khadi each underwent a complete transformation in the hands of Gandhi. This enabled the Indians to understand the different capabilities they had under the influence of one of the most influential leaders in the country.
The intellectual security offered by the founding father provides Indians with intellectual freedom (Trivedi 20). They understood that they could use talent and the available resources to reduce dependence on the British colonizers. In response, Indians underwent a metal revolution and they accrued independence in order to make resources from their own cotton farms (Dagli 21).
Naturally, the ability to earn income gives people the requisite freedom that transforms the way they do things. In addition, Mahatma Gandhi transformed the cloth during the fight for freedom in India.
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It constantly reminds the population of the struggles they underwent, thus making them overly aggressive when dealing with external forces that strive to destroy their unity. In India’s flag, the charkha reminds Indians of the hard-earned freedom. The spinning of the machine was a constant reminder that India got its independence in successive periods.
To the Indians, the Charkha meant life because it helped them find peace from the overly oppressive British government. Spinning was a communal activity that united Indians. The Charkha produced soft music, which acted as a form of solace contrary to other musical tunes. Coupled with encouragements from Mahatma Gandhi, the Indians found a reason to continue production for the sake of the country’s economy and social welfare.
Besides, the Charkha symbolized life because Indians had an opportunity to exercise its nationalism and Mahatma Gandhi principles. The symbol provided them with the life they sought throughout history.
In this aspect, the Indians had an opportunity to sustain the economy, employ people in the cottage industries, and finance their nationalistic movements including Swadeshi and Swaraj. Clearly, without the Charkha, it would be impossible for the Indians to come up with the Khadi.
Mahatma Gandhi and the Khadi
In each country that enjoys the freedom and has democratic leadership strategies, there is a history of the founding father. This refers to a single person or a group that fights for the freedom of the country amidst threat from other quotas. The US has many founding fathers, including Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, among others. This explains the level of independence enjoyed by the country since gaining freedom from Europe.
The British had a similar effect on the people of India, providing Mahatma Gandhi with an opportunity to exercise his real leadership traits. The leader used traditions to garner support from the population, and this drove him towards the development of popular culture in terms of the dress code.
Gandhi completely changed the face of the Khadi to suit the needs of Indians (Ramagundam 57). This involved the use of locally available cotton and a renowned spinning tool, the Charkha. As such, the two were originally Indian, but after Gandhi displayed interest in the fabric, the entire country developed a popular culture from spinning the Charkha and making the Khadi.
Mahatma Gandhi emphasized on the significance of the Khadi to the Indian people, especially as an element of uniting people and generating resources for the country. The founding father equally reinforced the cultural significance of the Khadi by wearing it; he assisted in spinning and transforming the cotton into wearable fabrics. This motivated Indians to produce fabric and export to stabilize the economy and earn different country resources.
Also, Gandhi helped in increasing the production levels for the Khadi because he redesigned the Charkha to reduce the handiwork and make it easy for the Indians to embroider the Khadi (Trivedi 21). Without moral and physical support from Mahatma Gandhi, it would be impossible for the people of India to understand that such small spinning equipment and cotton would cause a major revolution for the country.
When Mohandas Gandhi began the Khadi movement, few Indians believed that this would completely transform the economy. The Khadi had socio-economic value to Indians because it provided an opportunity for the population to work together while they raised income for the country. First, unity strengthened the ties between the Indians in addition to reducing the number of fabrics imported from Britain.
Initially, the Indians relied on fabrics from Britain, which were results of cotton from India. The only bold and intelligent Indian who believed in the capabilities of the Indian people was Mahatma Gandhi. He was not a domineering individual since his charisma enabled the society to spin together so that the country could exercise self-reliance from her cotton.
Through this, Indians managed to reduce imports from Britain, which were too expensive even though the raw materials were originally from India. Moreover, the cottages that enabled spinning provided jobs for the growing Indian population. This contributed to the country’s GDP and domestic income, thus enabling the population to be self-sufficient.
Britain always used its colonies as points of sale for its products. This explains its presence in Canada for tea, and China for the Opium. The tea was also cheap in India, and after selling it in Canada and North America, the British Empire made huge profits in the 19th century. Following Gandhi’s intervention, it was impossible for Britain to take advantage of the cotton in India and the overly receptive market.
Based on the intervention, Britain could not resell the Indian fabric to the same Indians at a high price. Instead, India exported the Khadi to other countries to improve its economy. This made people from other countries to immigrate into China to seek job opportunities (Trivedi 29)
. This provided Indians with many self-employment opportunities because they found a reason for socio-economic empowerment. Today, the Indian Khadi remains one of the most sought after embroidery fabrics, thus contributing towards economic stability. The Khadi business employs many citizens; this has reduced the poverty rate in the country.
Mahatma Gandhi read many motivational speeches to the people of India, but most importantly concentrated on poverty reduction and class differences. According to the leader, the British used the “divide and rule” strategy in which the Indians had to serve the rich masters and still provide the ready market for their raw materials. This brought about political conflicts between the ruling power polity in India and the British colonialists.
A section of the ruling powers supported the British while a majority led by Gandhi strongly opposed British rule. According to Gandhi, the rich British colonizers ignored the fact that religion was important. The leader insinuated that such individuals did not realize that affluence is only temporary without belief in God. Religion is very important to Indians and debates concerning the topic, without doubt, raised political discussions.
The British supported Christianity, which contradicted the different deities appreciated by the Indians. Besides religion, governance issues arose, and the rich became the most influential individuals in the society. As such, the rich who had links with the British oppressed poor Indians, but through spinning, Gandhi displayed equality amongst Indians.
He used this as an example that irrespective of the differences in riches or influence; all people were equal before God. The Khadi displayed struggle for freedom; it was important to put aside all political differences to send the British back to their homeland (Trivedi 13).
Khadi helped the Indians to have a single identity, and this gave them an opportunity to fight together until the British stopped the oppressive acts. Through Gandhi, the Indians realized that British exploitation would only end when they had a single identity to deal with the “divide and rule” system of governance.
Social Significance of Khadi
People require identities in different countries significant of the Chinese Cheongsam, Indian Sari, and the Ghanaian Kente. These fabrics give meaning to societies, hence enabling them to appear different from others. Khadi elicited a similar effect to the Indians in the 1940s, as Gandhi used it to promote unity, freedom, and social stability. Khadi reinforced the significance of the dress code as an element of culture.
Culture refers to the practices that define and differentiate people because they uniquely identify with diverse practices. This includes how people act, eat, or dress. The Charkha and the Khadi were unique to the Indians, thus making this an element of culture.
During spinning, people found a point of commonality that instilled a sense of brotherhood amongst the Indians. Today, Indians still believe that they have a social responsibility to protect the Khadi because it identifies them uniquely as Indians to the rest of the world.
As such, it would be difficult for the Indians to discriminate against each other because the Khadi remains a unifying factor from the past and symbolizes the way they collectively attained freedom. Besides cultural appreciation, unity is an important aspect of the social makeup that the Khadi generates among the Indians. The Khadi acquires respect from the people of India because of the rich history shared, which reinforces togetherness (Ramagundam 49).
In summary, the Khadi and Charkha make up Indian history. Today, they earn the country a reputation that does not exist in most countries. Traditional and contemporary viewpoints of the Khadi still reinforce a sense of economic, social, and political unity amongst Indians.
This follows the unique identification of the fabric and the spinning machine with the Indian people. Coupled with the influence of Mahatma Gandhi, the fabric receives the accolade for its ability to unite a country with one of the highest populations in the world. This explains the sale of Gandhi’s Charkha to the British after several years.
Dagli, Vadilal. Khadi and village industries in the Indian economy. Bombay: Commerce Publications Division, 1976. Print.
Ramagundam, Rahul. Gandhi’s khadi: a history of contention and conciliation. New Delhi: Orient Longman, 2008. Print.
Trivedi, Lisa. Clothing Gandhi’s nation homespun and modern India. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007. Print.