Minister of State for MSME, Giriraj Singh has been given the charge of Khadi and Village Industries. He is leaving no stone unturned to make it a household name – popularizing it among youngsters. He detailed his achievements and future plans in a long chat with SMEpost.com
Here are the edited excerpts:
Q: Khadi and Village Industries Commission’s growth rate has been 14 % for the last one year. What are the possible reasons?
A: The Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to buy Khadi in ‘Mann Ki Baat’ on October 3, 2014. Immediately Khadi outlets saw their sales jump from 60% to 120%. It means branding is very important. Once, Gandhi stood for Khadi and made it a brand. Khadi was symbol of freedom movement. Gandhi did not only oppose the Manchester’s cloth but gave an alternate employment in the form of Khadi to women and village. And now, Narendra Modi is the brand ambassador for Khadi.
Manufacturing one meter cloth consumes 53 litre water while Khadi needs 3.5 litre. So if a cloth has nearby zero water footprints, zero carbon footprints then it is certain to grow. Khadi denim is being purchased from us by Arvind Mills which is selling it to Levi’s, who then does bar-coding. So people have accepted our credibility. Khadi is being purchased nation-wide and growing fast. I have also made a plan to make tops and denim jackets from Khadi through Solar Charkhas.
Q: You have said that Khadi and Village Industries Commission’s growth will be around 35 % by next year. How will it be possible?
A: It has three sectors- Cosmetics, Kitchen, Readymade consumption like Khadi etc. All three have credibility. I am confident that my aim to connect 5 crore people with Khadi and Village Industries will be fulfilled. I have also given a presentation to Prime Minister regarding this. He too has taken it up on priority.
Our aim is to increase income of rural women by 6 to 10 thousand. With this every single initative like Swachch Bharat, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao will also be achieved. Then we will also add JanDhan se Jan Suraksha. It will eradicate poverty. It will be a total revolution. I am full confident and starting it with Solar Charkha, Solar loom from Khanva village of Nevada district in Bihar. Surface Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari will inaugurate it on October 17.
Q: What else you are doing for the promotion of Khadi?
A: We are connecting with fashion designers. We have in-house fashion designers too. Earlier people used to say that Khadi belongs to old people but now it belongs to everyone from grandfather to son. We are working for 3 generations. We are making T-shirts, fashionable dresses so that even the youngsters buy it.
Q: Are there any other designers working with you, apart from Ritu Beri?
A: Yes, recently we connected with Sunil Sethi, Chairman of Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI). Nandita Abraham of Pearl Academy is also in touch with us. We urge all designers across nation to come up with Khadi designs and promote them in whole world.
Q: Are Khadi’s fashion shows making it popular?
A: Yes, It’s oblivious. We visited a fashion show at Pragati Maidan. I saw many teenagers and adults from ramp models to viewers wearing Khadi.
Q: Polyester is cheap, while Khadi is costly. So how will it be popular?
A: Yes, you are right. There are many sections in our social system. One section is fighting for food security, second is fighting for nutrition security. And there is a section which is fighting for health security. So, cotton is for them.
Polyester has 33 % synthetic and 67 % cotton. People like it because it is cost effective and durable. When poor will have Charkhas, they too will wear Khadi.
Q: How will Charkhas compete with Mills?
A: We are introducing decentralization of production and automation in KVIC. We have taken old Charkhas towards automation and they run at the rate of 10k to 12k RPM, whereas the mills are running at the rate of 18k to 22k RPM. But we are not comparing ourselves with mills.
If you look upon Textile structure in Indian then we are not even seen there. Power looms have stake of 62-65%, Composite big mill have 3-4%, hosiery has 20-24%, Handloom has 12-14% and we are only limited to 0.4%. So for us, sky is the limit. We are not competing with anyone but ourselves.
Q: What are you doing for North-East region?
A: We are setting up an aromatic plant there. We have also given permission of setting up incubation centers in every district. From local tea to turmeric, we are connecting these things to village industries.