CHENNAI : Khadi Kraft
This five-storied Khadi Kraft building is located opposite Madras Law College on NSC Bose Road. To tap the potential of rural artisans and provide employment opportunities, the Tamil Nadu Khadi and Village Industries Board was formed in April 1960 under the Tamil Nadu Khadi Village and Industries Board Act, 1959. “The objective of the board is to develop The Khadi and Village Industries in remote localities with like-minded agencies engaged in rural development works. We have helped in bringing strong community support,” says a spokesperson of Khadi Kraft.
There are special offers on all khadi products. Honey and silk saris with silver zari are popular here. That apart, khadi apparels, towels, bedsheets, dhoti and kurta are most sought-after by customers. The store also has a collection of organic eatables, bamboo craft products and steel furniture at affordable prices catering to customers from all sections of society. The products come with a label comprising the name of the artisan behind the creation, place and date of manufacturing. “We will worship Gandhi with prayers and flowers on Gandhi Jayanthi. Our artisans will display their khadi collection. The silk sari design centre at our store will be launched. Freedom fighters will be honoured and felicitated today,” he says.
Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan
Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan is a landmark of the city promoting the message of Mahatma Gandhi. It came into existence 52 years ago and was inaugurated by K Kamaraj, the then chief minister of Tamil Nadu on October 16, 1957. Until September 13, 1969, the Bhavan was directly run by Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), a statutory body of the Government of India. But from September 14, 1969, the Bhavan was handed over to the workers due to the decentralisation policy of the KVIC. The Khadi Gramodyog Sangh is a registered institution (under Societies Registration Act, 1860). The 5,000-sq-ft shop is located opposite Chepauk Stadium on Mount Road.
“The governor of Tamil Nadu will inaugurate Khadi Rebate Sales on Gandhi Jayanthi and will offer clothes to orphanages. G Baskaran, Minister for Khadi and Village Industries Board, and P Nallamuthi, state director, Khadi and VI Commission, Chennai, will also be present. The objective of this organisation is to work for a non-violent, non-exploitative social order as envisaged by Mahatma Gandhi,” says Selvaraj, secretary of Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan. On the occasion of Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, there is a 30 per cent offer on khadi products.
Khadi India, Madras Sarvodaya Sangh - Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan
Khadi India building stands tall on the bustling street of Rattan Bazaar in north Chennai. Certified by Khadi and Village Industries Commission (Government of India), the shop is touted to be the first khadi store in the city. The two-storied building was recently renovated. At present, there are 14 stores under the same management in different corners of the city, one steel unit and a khadi godown in Parry’s Corner. “With time, many commercial shops have come up.
However, we can distinguish them from ours with the help of the spinning wheel symbol on our bills. It’s not easy to obtain it without permission from the government. Our workers wear khadi uniforms. All the objects displayed here are certified by Khadi and Village Industries Commission and are original. People who work here eventually start to follow Gandhian principles and that has transformed their lives in many ways,” says BS Easwari who has been with the shop for the past 26 years.
When the shop was set up in 1917, Rattan Bazaar was more like a village. “It was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi. Freedom fighters worked here for free. Presently, there are 63 Khadi India stores across Tamil Nadu. There are offers during festivals starting from October 2,” says VS Murali, secretary of Madras Sarvodaya Sangh - Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan. Every year on October 2, the workers, committee members and leaders of the state gather at Gandhi statue at the Marina Beach and sing bhajans and patriotic songs. Staff members give a live demonstration of weaving clothes using spinning wheels.
If you pass by Pondy Bazaar, chances are high that you will miss this tiny shop which was set up in 1945. “There were only 14 shops in the entire stretch when my father Koteswar Rao established this shop in 1945. I took over it four years back. We were one of the first private khadi stores in the city. There are two more outlets in Mylapore and Parry’s Corner,” says 76-year-old KV Mohan. On the wall of the 400-sq-ft shop hangs a black-and-white picture of Mohan with former chief minister late K Kamaraj clicked in 1968 during a khadi exhibition. “My father has walked with Mahatma Gandhi and Vinoba Bhave in freedom marches. He was a freedom fighter. Big leaders like Kamaraj, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi have visited our store. I was treated like their child,” says Mohan, as his eyes welled up, telling us about Gandhian teachings.
The store offers khadi, handloom and handicrafts products from Tiruppur, Erode, Salem, Mumbai, Kolkata and Nagercoil. The workers in the shop have been here for more than 20 years. “I respect my customers because they are my source of income. All our patrons are treated equally. We believe in simplicity and unity in diversity. The youngsters these days don’t wear khadi because they think it’s not fashionable but khadi symbolises originality. It’s an emotion. I’m proud to sell it because of the employment opportunities it creates for artisans,” says Mohan, who keeps the shop shut on Gandhi Jayanthi.