The earlier memory of the brand Khadi is like a fabric brand for senior citizens with its stores resembling of British-raj era. Eventually, it lost its significance in modern India midst all advanced technology. But, the brand made its comeback soon after 2014 and for me also, it was a surprise when I spotted a series of Khadi cosmetic products, neatly packed lined up in a shelf of a superstore in Hyderabad.
Khadi then had already started its transformative journey, from a dying to a thriving industry. It is empowering millions of livelihood at the bottom of the wealth pyramid, creating opportunities and bringing back the dying art forms like traditional pottery.
Khadi has now grown itself from not just a handspun and handwoven textile brand, but an established brand in personal care segment and agro-based products.
In the last five years, through the government’s support and several initiatives, the Khadi is now a much-celebrated brand, giving stiff competition to many established ones. This was unthinkable in this short period, especially when the brand was in the brink of extinction. Now, it has clocked a turnover of Rs 3,215 crore in 2018-19, an increase of 145 per cent in the last five years. Further, it is aiming to reach a sales figure of Rs 5,000 crore in the current financial year.
Job Creator and Bringing in Social Change
For the government, Khadi has been the front-runner for generating employment in the village level industry and upskilling millions of craftsmen, farmers and potters. Since 2014, KVIC has successfully achieved more than 100 per cent success rate in Prime Minister Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP), creating over 20 lakh jobs.
KVIC is now leading the change from the grassroot level and contributing to India’s growth story in a most sustainable way. Take, for example, the Honey Mission, which was launched in August 2017, under which KVIC distributed over a lakh bee-boxes plus training and support has created over 10,000 new jobs. And, through this initiative, more than 246 metric tonnes of honey worth nearly Rs 4 crore has been produced so far.
This is a big boost to the apiary business and export of natural honey to the world market. Currently, India stands seventh in the list of countries that export natural honey and has a market share of 4.6 per cent valuing $102 million. China (11.2%), New Zealand (11%) and Argentina (7.8%) are the top three rank holders.
Another example of KVIC’s sustainable development, where KVIC and Indian Army has joined hands to help out the youths in Kashmir to secure their livelihood, and prevent them from militancy and violence. Under the joint project Sadbhavna, Indian Army is providing training to thousands of Kashmiri youths across the state. From providing training, support, arranging soft loans to the volunteers, it has helped to solve the problem of unemployment of Kashmiri youth to an extent.
Khadi has brought a large scale impact, but its journey is not smooth enough from here and plenty of challenges are present. As Khadi is a labour intensive industry, meeting up with the rising demand gets difficult with each passing day. And, every product of Khadi is derived from nature, so its a natural roadblock to increasing production overnight.
In the last five years, Khadi or the KVIC, has proved to be a formidable force in the village level industries, overcoming challenges and nurturing many entrepreneurs and local artisans.
Thus, KVIC in its process is helping India to have more inclusive growth, right from the bottom to top.