Hathkargha – Ahimsa and Self-reliance for masses
April 8, 2017
Mahatma Gandhi once commented that “Today, machinery merely helps a few to ride on the backs of millions. The impetus behind it all is not philanthropy to save labour but greed. It is against this constitution of things that I am fighting with all my might”.
Further with respect to use of machines and technology he said, “Mechanisation is good when the hands are too few for the work intended to be accomplished. It is an evil when there are more hands than required for the work, as in India.” Gandhiji regarded mass unplanned industrialization detrimental to growth of a non-violent and environment friendly society.
Gandhiji’s observations are not really new to those who have studied ancient Bharatiya principles of Ahimsa. In fact since thousands of years and till as late as 18th century Bharat was thriving in economically self-sufficient, self-governing and culturally non-violent villages. Reports and books present the real (and alternative history to what is taught in mainstream schools) history of Bharat and Bharatiyata.
Mahatma Gandhi raised the alarm on the challenges of modern independent Bharat long before today’s environmentalists.
Hand loom is traditional, ancient and one of largest cottage industries in India, giving direct and indirect employment to large section of population of rural India. 2015 estimates – around 43 lakh Indians are directly or indirectly employed in this sector. Though the quality of hand loom cloth has improved over the years, recent studies show that the volume of hand loom cloth produced and associated revenues have plateaued out causing a sharp decline in the number of people employed in this sector.
Hand loom processes are traditionally low technology – no dependence on electricity, environment friendly but require skilled workmanship and is labour intensive. However, in comparison with power looms and mills it does suffer from lower productivity.
Power looms on the other hand are not exactly environment friendly, apart from inherent noise pollution that makes working a strenuous and difficult task, power looms also contribute their share to the overall air and water pollution.
Cotton yarn manufacturing using power looms involves a process known as “sizing”, this process makes use of softeners and lubricants like “tallow”, tallow is basically animal fat. As part of the sizing process every thread is coated with animal fat, apart from lubricating the thread it also imparts flexibility and smoothness. Not many people understand the origins of the underlying component that imparts the smoothness and softness to power loom produced cotton clothes they wear. This animal fat – tallow is the same animal fat which triggered the mutiny of 1857 – the Indian war of independence.
Unfettered industrialization and mass production not only result in over exploitation of natural resources but also changes the demographic setup due displacement of labour/people, which in turn leads to internal strife.
Hand loom on the other hand provides a sustainable, environment friendly, non-violent and inclusive development model.
Gandhiji realized this early on and hence advocated for self reliance, self sufficiency based models. Gandhiji vociferously advocated “to go back to villages”. Gandhiji suggested hand craft based setup in villages, which are less machine dependent, labour intensive, less energy dependent and environment friendly. That is how Khadi, as we know it today, was born. Gandhiji reckoned that such an approach would not only make people self-reliant but also protect environment and natural resources. And needless to say, it was derived from the ancient Bharatiya wisdom and principles of Ahimsa.
At AhimsaZone, we are committed to support organizations using Ahimsak, sustainable and environment friendly manufacturing processes. Further, we are specifically working with organizations that help empower people in rural India to become self reliant.
We are currently working with multiple Hathkargha centers (see product page) devoted to such a cause. These centers have setup a dedicated training centers in their respective locations. They particularly focus on unemployed youth from villages. The students are provided hands on training for a period of 6 months, along with a stipend and facilities for lodging and boarding. After 6 months, they are employed by one of the many Hathkargha centers. They are also actively encouraged to go and setup their own center and help employ more people.
Beyond a social cause, the Hathkargha produced clothes also have various other attributes:
- Price – Comparable and competitive market price (range of Rs 200 to 250 per meter)
- Quality – no fast colors, no fading
- Durability – durable for handwash, machinewash and rough use
- Healthy – Chemicals free, pure cotton is the best form of cloth for our body from health perspective. Such pure cotton protects in both cold and hot weather situations.
- Fashion – Hathkargha based cotton clothes are now available in the form of high-end designer fabric including Hathkargha based Jeans.
At AhimsaZone, we will bring the Ahimsak products to the buyers from the above mentioned and similar Hathkargha centers. If you have any information to share with us on this subject as well as any sources of such Ahimsak products, you can write to us on info (at) ahimsazone.in.