KVIC reacts to a think-tank paper on khadi sector published in Governance Now
VK Saxena | September 28, 2016
The KVIC has taken a serious note of an article entitled ‘Khadi: Time to revive the nation’s cloth’, by Lekshmi R Nair and D Dhanuraj published in Governance Now (September 1-15 edition). It is very unfortunate that the article bears a tone of unjustified criticism and mala fide intention basing the arguments on obsolete information. It is also appalling that you chose to portray the khadi sector in such a poor light of largely very old and invalid data, while recent information is easily available in public domain.
We are pained that in spite of our organisation being very approachable and transparent, particularly after the constitution of the Commission in September last year, you chose to run a profligate story without even consulting or discussing with KVIC management to explore the recent progress and current trend of developments. At the very least, we consider that such a careless article is very disrespectful of the millions of khadi artisans, whose honourable efforts to sustain self-reliant livelihoods have built the pillars of rural economy. I would expect your magazine to immediately take note of the updated information provided in this letter. This should help you to publish a rejoinder correcting the wrong and misleading information and notions propagated by the authors. Further, it will also be appreciated if your magazine corrects the perspective that Khadi India is not just a programme of ‘clothing the nation’, but a vision of building self-reliant rural India that has kept alive a heritage that founded the principles of our struggle for Independence.
READ: Authors Lekshmi R Nair and D Dhanuraj of Centre for Public Policy Research respond to the KVIC’s objections
Some of the new initiatives taken by KVIC under the ministry of MSME are detailed below along with progress statistics:
(i) The production, sales and employment have not declined and in fact during the five years from 2010-11 they have only increased and in 2015-16, the increase is very significant.
Comparison of the 1994-95 figures with 2014-15 and calling the growth as “significant wastage of public funds in khadi sector” shows that the authors have no clarity about what is called wasteful public funds and growth. Further, the relevance of referring to the 2001 CAG report and 1990 figures in 2016 to prove that the funds were utilised by KVIC for “helping fraudulent units” and “Khadi experienced a negative growth of 3.7 percent”, respectively, is hard to understand. The article exhibits gross ignorance of authors on the domain, as exemplified by the word ‘silver plants’ used by them three times instead of the correct word ‘sliver plants’. Editorial ethics demand that technical articles are checked for correctness using accurate and updated information as well as through discussion with experts and concerned departments. However, this article appears to have thrown to wind all cautions of editorial fairness.
(ii) KVIC has taken the initiative of revising the wages and providing support to the khadi artisans. The current wage for spinners is '5.5 per hank w.e.f. 01.04.2016 which will enable them to earn around '190 per day which includes market development assistance at 30 percent of production provided as grant support on production of khadi out of which 40 percent is provided directly to khadi artisans as further incentive.
(iii) The cost chart of khadi is now made flexible and rates can be fixed by the khadi institutions depending on the market conditions. Thus exclusive products and designer garments can fetch higher margin component for the khadi artisans.
(iv) The certification rules have been replaced by flexible guidelines taking into account the market conditions.
(v) It is also not true that only KVIC and KVIB certified institutions are allowed to produce khadi. With the Khadi Mark Regulation 2013, any individual, PSU, HUF, society, self-help group, corporates etc. can take up production or sale of khadi after obtaining the Khadi mark.
(vi) The Khadi mark has been introduced mainly to protect khadi from fake manufacturers who are cheating the customers by providing mill cloth in the name of khadi. The Khadi mark will be a mark to ensure genuineness of khadi to the customers in the domestic as well as international market.
(vii) The franchise scheme is being introduced by KVIC, which will work on commercial terms and will provide for attractive trade commission for the franchisee.
(viii) It is also wrongly mentioned that the khadi retail outlets have the office timings from 10 am to 5 pm. Departmental khadi bhavans are working from 10.30 am to 7.30 pm without a lunch break since December 2015. They are also open on Sundays.
(ix) With the clarion call given by the prime minister through ‘Mann Ki Baat’ for using at least one item of khadi to support the rural artisans, there is a tremendous increase in sale of khadi. While the retail sales have increased to around 30 percent, a large number of bulk orders have been received from PSUs and corporates like Air India, Delhi Police, Railways, IIT, JK Cement, ONGC, NTPC, ministry of petroleum, ministry of power, post and telegraph department, PMO, etc. Woollen blankets are also introduced in Railways in addition to polyvastra bedsheets.
(x) E-commerce and franchise schemes are also being introduced to strengthen the marketing of Khadi and VI products.
(xi) The DoPT has also issued guidelines for the central government employees to voluntarily wear khadi once a week. Mobile sales vans have also been launched at Mumbai and Delhi and sales counters have been opened in parliament annexe, office of income tax commissioner, Mumbai, etc. The state governments of Goa, Maharashtra, UP, Manipur and Gujarat have already issued advisory to its employees to wear khadi once a week.
(xii) Reputed designers like Ritu Beri have been involved in designing high fashion garments in khadi to attract the high-end segment and ready-mades. Jeans and t-shirts have also been introduced to cater to the teenage and youth segment.
In all, you need to realise that KVIC and khadi support activities in India were started with a special purpose of building a self-reliant rural economy, more as a socio-economic programme of sustainable development than as a fabric commodity industry. With KVIC being the main vehicle for the implementation of the Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP), Khadi India balances the twin objectives of sustainability and self-reliance. While keeping alive this character, KVIC has in recent times promulgated a number of developmental schemes by strengthening rural capacity and market diversity. Unlike the fabric industries of modern India that try to capitalise on the profitability of consumer industry, KVIC works for inclusive growth of social sectors by employing and sustaining war widows, terrorism-affected families, geographically isolated rural communities and the like.
Your authors should have realised that Khadi India is as much an indigenous cloth industry as a mission of national resurgence. And any constructive criticism of what we do should always be underlined by a sense of responsibility of advising how KVIC as a unique organisation of social inclusivity should strengthen its role in nation-building.
Saxena is chairman, Khadi & Village Industries Commission, New Delhi.
The rejoinder appears in the October 1-15, 2016 issue of Governance Now.