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Beyond the Freedom Struggle: Role of Khadi in Contemporary India

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Photo: idiva.com

By Vishakha Mathur

Set in the time period of 1860s, the Grand Old Man of India, Dadabhai Naroji, exposed the spoils that were engendered in India due to the British rule. He introduced India and the world to the concept of Drain of Wealth which was apt during the time where the British were acting “…much like a sponge, drawing up all the good things from the banks of Ganges and squeezing them down on the banks of Thames…” as said by John Sullivan.

Photo Credit: blog.tadpolestore.com
Photo Credit: blog.tadpolestore.com

This constant profit making tactics of the British was bringing nothing but destitution to India, forcing the poor to go further deep into poverty. But as we know, this was not the only aspect of the colonial rule. Their harsh policies, their incessant castigation and discriminatory administration gave birth to resentment against their rule in the hearts of the natives and ultimately sowed the seeds of the freedom movement.

The movement however, was not only about expelling the British from India; it was about getting our nation back, creating India out of the wreck conceived by the colonizers. Thus during the freedom movement, many things got established as symbols of freedom and nationalism. The most prominent one among those symbols was Khadi, re-introduced to us by the Father of Our Nation, Mahatma Gandhi.

The Introduction of Khadi:

Mahatma Gandhi, along with non-violence, also redefined the use of indigenous products to support the cause of our workers and eliminate the industry that was exploiting us. Khadi industry, having lost its base due to cheap products sold by the British in the market, was seen as a leading symbol of Gandhi’s struggle for freedom.

Using simple, yet time consuming technology that could be learned easily by anybody, Khadi spinning was popularized by Gandhi to provide work to the idle in the rural areas and as an alternative to the British products in the market. He sought to establish an economic system through Khadi which was centered on his principle of non-violence.

Khadi soon became the fabric of freedom, an emblem of opposition, not just against the British but also against the exploitative system of capitalism. It not only integrated the masses of the nation but also successfully harmonized politics with economic inequality and isolation of the masses. It had the power to bring all of the population together by allowing people to dress in freedom rather than subjugation.

Relevance of Khadi today

Fast forward 68 years from then, today we live in a free country attained by various movements that were successful in carving India out of the British Empire. Khadi was an important aspect of our freedom and it still stands for what it did during the freedom movement.

Khadi opposed the non-inclusive system of capitalism that simply tried to edge out the local workers and bring in the foreign goods that were cheaper as the British made them appear to be a more lucrative option. Even today, Khadi should be remembered and worn in the honor of the same idea. Khadi is produced by small scale workers who spin the charkha to churn out the best quality cloth for the consumers. It employs the rural population who dedicate all of their time and hard work to refine each piece of fabric they give out.

It is an exclusive fabric and each part of it is so unique that it cannot be duplicated. Its benefits are varied and stand tall today as they did earlier. It’s airy, Eco-friendly, elegant and most importantly, supports the small cotton farmers and spinners. It is a brilliant way to connect us to our roots, make us aware of our heritage and strengthen our belief in the ideals that have got us here today.

Thus, this Independence Day, lets cherish our roots by wearing a piece of Khadi which will not only ensure our comfort, but at the same time, will connect us with the struggles that have enabled us to celebrate this day.

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Mahatma Gandhi is Still Alive on The Big Screen

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, fondly known as Mahatma Gandhi, breathed his last on January 30, 1948

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Mahatma Gandhi, Gandhi, movies, screens, TV
British actor Ben Kingsley's portrayal of Mahatma Gandhi in Richard Attenborough's 1982 Oscar-winning film "Gandhi" is one that is etched on everyone's minds. Wikimedia Commons

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, fondly known as Mahatma Gandhi, breathed his last on January 30, 1948, but he has been brought alive on the big screen several times.

As India is all set to celebrate 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, we take a look at actors who essayed the role of Gandhi with elan.

BEN KINGSLEY in “Gandhi” (1982)

British actor Ben Kingsley’s portrayal of Mahatma Gandhi in Richard Attenborough’s 1982 Oscar-winning film “Gandhi” is one that is etched on everyone’s minds.

NASEERUDDIN SHAH in “Hey Ram” (2000)

The Kamal Haasan-starrer film revolved around India’s Partition and the assassination of Gandhi by Nathuram Godse. Interestingly, Naseeruddin had auditioned for the role of Gandhi in Attenborough’s film. The role eventually went to Kingsley. Naseeruddin’s Gandhi in “Hey Ram” didn’t received the acclaim that Kingsley’s effort did, but he was praised for nailing the act and getting the Gujarati accent right.

JS CASHYAP in “Nine Hours To Rama” (1963)

Mark Robson’s English language film is about the nine hours of Nathuram Godse’s life before he assassinated Gandhi. Goidse was essaywed by German actor Horst Buchholz.

ANNU KAPOOR in “Sardar” (1993)

The Ketan Mehta film on Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had Annu Kapoor stepping into the shoes of Gandhi. Apart from playing the great Indian leader on the big screen, Annu also lent his voice as narrator to “Khaar” — a docudrama on Gandhi’s Dandi March.

“The Dandi March initiated by Gandhiji was an iconic movement against the British and a milestone in India’s movement for freedom,” Annu said last year.

RAJIT KAPUR in “The Making Of The Mahatma” (1996)

Kapur, popular for playing the Bengali detective Byomkesh Bakshi on television, played Gandhi in Shyam Benegal’s “The Making of The Mahatma”. His role in the film, fetched him a National Film Award as Best Actor.

Mahatma Gandhi, Gandhi, movies, screens, TV
As India is all set to celebrate 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, we take a look at actors who essayed the role of Gandhi with elan. Wikimedia Commons

MOHAN GOKHALE in “Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar” (2000)

The film didn’t center around him but he managed to make his presence felt in the movie on BR Ambedkar, known mainly for helping the the downtrodden and oppressed classes in India.

DARSHAN JARIWALA IN “Gandhi, My Father” (2007)

His performance in the critically-acclaimed film was lauded by many, including the Indian government that honoured him with a National Award for his effort. “‘Gandhi, My Father’ happened in a curious way. Feroz Abbas Khan (director) had approached me for Gandhi’s role in his famous play ‘Mahatma v/s Gandhi’. I was his first choice. Unfortunately, I was preoccupied with other business interests then, and it was my misfortune that I couldn’t do it. So here I am, playing Gandhi in his directorial debut,” Darshan had said in an interview.

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DILIP PRABHAWALKAR in “Lage Raho Munna Bhai” (2006)

The Sanjay Dutt-starrer was probably one of the most commercial Bollywood films to feature. The film wasn’t just about the great leader but his teachings were highlighted well in the comedy-drama by filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani. It showed why Gandhi continues to be relevant even today. Dilip was also honoured with a National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor for his act in the blockbuster.

SURENDRA RAJAN in “The Legend Of Bhagat Singh” (2002); “Veer Savarkar” (2001); “Bose: The Forgotten Hero” (2004)

Few know, but Rajan is the actor to have essayed the Mahatma the maximum number of times. the Bollywood character actor may not be a known face in Hindi films, but his roles as Gandhi in “The Legend Of Bhagat Singh”, Veer Savarkar”, and “Bose” have become his calling cards.

SRIKANTH in “Mahatma” (2009 Telugu film)

The film was about a hooligan whose life sees transformation after he gets to know of Gandhism by chance. Actor Srikanth essyaed the role of the Mahatma. (IANS)