HUDLI: A week-long stay by Mahatma Gandhi at Hudli in Belagavi district in 1937 has changed the face of this tiny village. It has undergone a radical change as the last one century was a time for social reform in Hudli.
Despite having a thriving 100-year-old khadi industry, the residents here have been exploring other alternatives for a better life. Also, a large number of people have been joining the Armed forces with the sole objective of serving the nation. However, khadi industry, and also agriculture, continue to thrive. Belgaum Sugars, one of the noted sugar factories in the region, depends on the cane produced in Hudli.
“We don’t have liquor shops in Hudli nor do the residents believe in any kind of superstition. The villagers firmly believe in Gandhi’s ideologies and hopefully the coming generations will continue the tradition,’’ says Eshwar Kulgod, production manager, Hudali Khadi Gramodyog Utpadak Sangh. Inspired by Gandhian ideologies of self-reliance, the residents of Hudli have taken the khadi industry to new heights. Freedom fighter Gangadhar Rao Deshpande--- who had brought Gandhi to Hudli--- turned the village into a khadi gram and since then, khadi production here has gained momentum.
The establishment of Khadi Gramodyog Utpadak Sangh (KGUS) at Hudli in 1954 further led to the sector’s growth. “The distinctive feature of khadi is its capability to provide earning opportunities to rural artisans. They earn at least Rs 200 a day by weaving khadi on a charaka. Many rural women in Hudli and surrounding villages are now self-reliant,’’ says Raghavendra Ammanavar, joint secretary, Hudli Khadi Gramodyog Utpadak Sangh. More than 1,000 artisans are employed by KGUS, which sees an annual turnover of over Rs 2 crore. “With an objective of creating jobs for rural women, KGUS has started production of pickles, incense sticks, soaps, etc,’’ says Ammanavar.
Gangappa Malagi (99), a freedom fighter and a resident of Hudli, has been associated with the Khadi Gramodyog as a member and chairman for more than five decades. “When he escorted Gandhiji into Hudali in 1937, Gandhiji called him ‘acha bacha’, impressed by his personality. My father stayed with Gandhiji for seven days,’’ says Malagi’s daughter Shantavva Khangani.
Impressed by the khadi manufacturing at rural homes in Hudli, leaders like Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Sarojini Naidu, Rajendra Prasad, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, and Kasturba Gandhi also came to Hudli along with Gandhi in 1937, says Shankar Upari, a resident.