Popular Chief Minister of Gujarat Shri Bhupendrabhai Patel, my colleague in Parliament Shri CR Patil ji, Ministers in the Government of Gujarat Bhai Jagdish Panchal and Harsh Sanghavi, Mayor of Ahmedabad Kiritbhai, Chairman of KVIC Manoj ji, other dignitaries, and my dear brothers and sisters who have come from different parts of Gujarat!
This bank of Sabarmati has become blessed today. To mark the completion of 75 years of independence, 7,500 sisters and daughters have created new history by spinning yarn together on spinning wheels. It is my good fortune that I also got the privilege to try my hand at spinning wheel for a few moments and spin yarn. It was an emotional moment for me as it took me back to my childhood because all these things were kept in one corner of our small house and my mother used to spin yarn whenever she got time to meet financial needs. I am reminded of that memory today. When I look at all these things, I feel that the process of spinning yarn is no less than the worship of God as it is akin to a devotee worshipping God with all the prayer items.
As the spinning wheel became the heartbeat of the country during the freedom movement, I can feel the same vibrations today here on the banks of Sabarmati. I am sure that everyone present here and those watching this event would be energized by the Khadi Utsav today. The country has given a beautiful gift to its freedom fighters by organizing Khadi Mahotsav (festival) on the occasion of ‘Amrit Mahotsav’ of Independence. Today, the new building of the Gujarat State Khadi Village Industries Board and the grand Atal Bridge on the Sabarmati River have also been inaugurated. I congratulate and convey my best wishes to the people of Ahmedabad and Gujarat for moving ahead continuously.
Atal Bridge is not only connecting the two banks of the Sabarmati River, but it is also unprecedented in design and innovation. Its design has also taken care of the famous Kite Festival of Gujarat. Gandhinagar and Gujarat always had great affection for Atal ji. Atal ji won the 1996 Lok Sabha election from Gandhinagar by a record number of votes. This Atal Bridge is also a heartfelt tribute to him by the people.
A few days ago, the entire country along with Gujarat celebrated the ‘Amrit Mahotsav’ with great enthusiasm on the completion of 75 years of independence. In Gujarat too, we have seen the pictures of the Tricolor in every village, street and house with enthusiasm and zeal. There was not only a tide of patriotism in the Tricolor rallies and ‘prabhat pheris’ (early morning rounds) but also a resolve to build a developed India in the ‘Amrit Kaal’. The same resolution is visible in the Khadi Utsav today as well. Your hands spinning the yarn on the spinning wheels are weaving the future of India.
History is witness that a thread of Khadi became the force of freedom movement and it broke the shackles of slavery. The same thread of Khadi can also become a source of inspiration to fulfill the promise of a developed and self-reliant India. The way a lamp, no matter how small it is, defeats the darkness, similarly, our traditional potential like Khadi, can also become an inspiration to take India to new heights. Hence, this Khadi Utsav is an attempt to revive the history of the freedom movement. This Khadi Utsav is an inspiration to fulfill the resolution of a bright future of India.
I spoke about ‘Panch Pran’ (five pledges) from the ramparts of the Red Fort on August 15 this year. Today I want to reiterate these ‘Panch Pran’ from the banks of Sabarmati and in front of this virtuous flow at this holy place. First -- bigger resolves and resolve for a developed India; second -- complete rejection of the slave mentality; third – to be proud of our heritage; fourth -- vigorous efforts for the unity of the nation; and fifth -- the duties of every citizen.
Today's Khadi Utsav is a beautiful reflection of these ‘Panch Pran’. There is amalgamation of everything in this Khadi Utsav -- huge goals, pride of our heritage, public participation and our duties. Our Khadi has also been a victim of the slave mentality. The Khadi which made us feel ‘swadeshi’ at the time of independence movement was looked down upon after independence. The Khadi which Gandhiji made the country's pride during the freedom movement was ill-treated. As a result, Khadi and the village industry associated with Khadi were completely destroyed. This situation was very painful especially for Gujarat, because Gujarat has a very special relationship with Khadi.
I am happy that this land of Gujarat is providing life to Khadi once again. I remember we started a special campaign in 2003 from Porbandar, the birthplace of Gandhiji, to improve the condition of Khadi. At that time, we took the pledge of ‘Khadi for Nation’ as well as ‘Khadi for Fashion’. Many fashion shows were organized for the promotion of Khadi in Gujarat and several celebrities were associated with it. At that time, people used to make fun of us and even insulted us. But the neglect of Khadi and Village Industries was not acceptable to Gujarat. Gujarat continued to move forward with a dedicated spirit and showed it by reviving Khadi.
When you ordered me to go to Delhi in 2014, I took inspiration from Gujarat and expanded it further. We added ‘Khadi for Transformation’ to the pledge of ‘Khadi for Nation’ and ‘Khadi for Fashion’. We started expanding the successful experiences of Gujarat across the country. All the problems related to Khadi across the country were removed. We encouraged the countrymen to buy Khadi products. And the result of this is being seen by the world today.
Today, India's top fashion brands are coming forward to associate themselves with Khadi. Today India is making record production and sales of Khadi products. The sales of Khadi products have increased by more than four times in the last eight years. Today, the turnover of India's Khadi and Village Industries has crossed Rs 1 lakh crore for the first time. You, my brothers and sisters associated with Khadi and living in villages, have benefited the most from the increase in the sale of Khadi products.
Due to the increase in the sale of Khadi products, more money went to the villages and more people got employment in the villages. Especially our mothers and sisters have been empowered. In the last eight years alone, about 1.75 crore new jobs have been created in Khadi and Village Industries. And friends, the campaign for Green Khadi has now started in Gujarat. Now Khadi is being made from solar spinning wheels which are being given to the artisans. That is, once again Gujarat is showing a new path.
Women’s power is also a major contributor to the growing strength of India's Khadi industry. The spirit of entrepreneurship is ingrained in our sisters and daughters. The proof of this is also the expansion of ‘Sakhi Mandals’ in Gujarat. We started ‘Mission Mangalam’ for the empowerment of sisters in Gujarat about a decade ago. Today more than 2.60 lakh self-help groups of sisters have been formed in Gujarat. More than 26 lakh rural sisters are involved in this. These ‘Sakhi Mandals’ are also getting double help from the double-engine government.
The potential of sisters and daughters is going to create real impact in this ‘Amrit Kaal’. It is our endeavor that the daughters of the country should be employed in a large number and they should do the work of their choice. The Mudra Yojana is playing an important role in this regard. There was a time when sisters had to make several rounds to get even a small loan. Today, loans ranging from 50,000 to 10 lakh rupees are being given without guarantee under the Mudra Yojana. Crores of sisters and daughters in the country have started their business for the first time by taking loans under the Mudra Yojana. Not only this, they have also given employment to one or two people. Many of these women are also associated with Khadi Village Industries.
We have to look towards the future now in view of the success of Khadi today. Nowadays, we hear a lot about sustainability on every global platform, be it sustainable growth, sustainable energy, sustainable agriculture, or sustainable products. The entire world is making efforts in this direction so that our earth should be less burdened by the activities of human beings. Nowadays, a new mantra of ‘Back to Basic’ has started in the world. Special emphasis is being laid on the protection of natural resources. In such a situation, sustainable lifestyle is also being talked about.
It is very important that our products are eco-friendly and do not harm the environment. All of you who have come for the Khadi Utsav must be wondering why I am laying so much emphasis on sustainability. This is because Khadi is an example of sustainable clothing. Khadi is an example of eco-friendly clothing. The carbon footprint of Khadi is minimal. There are many countries where the temperature is high and Khadi is also very important from the point of view of health. And therefore, Khadi can play a huge role on a global scale today. We should be proud of our heritage.
Today a huge market is ready for all the people associated with Khadi. We should not miss this opportunity. I am looking forward to the day when every major supermarket in the world and the cloth market would be dominated by Khadi of India. Your hard work and sweat is about to dominate the world. The demand for Khadi is going to increase rapidly in view of climate change. Now no power can stop Khadi from becoming global from local.
Today I also want to make an appeal to the people of the country from the banks of Sabarmati. Gift only the products made in Khadi Village Industries during the upcoming festivals. You can have clothes made of different fabrics in your home, but if you give some space to Khadi, then you will give impetus to the Vocal for Local campaign and it will help in improving the life of the poor. Those going to meet their relatives or friends abroad should carry a product of Khadi as a gift. This will not only promote Khadi, but will also bring awareness about Khadi among the citizens of other countries.
Countries which forget their history are not able to create a new history. Khadi is an integral part of our history and heritage. When we take pride in our heritage, the world also respects and honors it. An example of this is also the toy industry of India. Toys based on Indian traditions are also good for nature and do not harm the health of children. But India's own prosperous toy industry was getting ruined in view of the competition from foreign toys in the last few decades.
With the efforts of the government and the hard work of our brothers and sisters associated with the toy industries, the situation has now started changing. Now there is a huge decline in the toys imported from abroad. At the same time, Indian toys are making a place of their own in more and more world markets. Our small industries, artisans, workers and people of Vishwakarma society have benefited a lot from this.
The export of handicrafts and hand woven carpets is also increasing continuously due to the efforts of the government. Today more than two lakh weavers and handicraft artisans are registered with the GeM Portal and are easily selling their goods to the government.
Even during the crisis of Corona, our government has supported handicraft artisans, weavers, brothers and sisters associated with the cottage industry. The government has saved crores of jobs by giving financial help to small scale industries, MSMEs.
Brothers and sisters,
Amrit Mahotsav began on the anniversary of Dandi Yatra in March last year from Sabarmati Ashram. Amrit Mahotsav will continue till August 2023. I congratulate our brothers and sisters associated with Khadi and the Government of Gujarat for this grand event. We have to keep introducing the new generation to the freedom movement through such events during Amrit Mahotsav.
I want to make a request to all of you and you would have seen that ‘Swaraj’ serial has started on Doordarshan. The stories related to the freedom movement and the pride of the country, the struggles across the country and the sacrifices have been shown in great detail in this serial. This serial is telecast on Doordarshan on Sundays probably at 9 p.m. The young generation and their entire family should watch this serial ‘Swaraj’. Our future generations should know about the endurance of our ancestors for us. May this feeling of patriotism, national consciousness and self-reliance continue to grow in the country! With this wish, I once again express my heartfelt gratitude to all of you.
Today I especially want to salute these mothers and sisters, because spinning the wheel is also a kind of ‘sadhana’. These mothers and sisters are contributing in the development of the nation with complete concentration and yogic spirit. This event with such a large number must have happened for the first time in history. For the first time in history!
I request all the friends who have been associated with this idea and movement for years to help the efforts of the Government of India in reviving the values of Mahatma Gandhi. I invite all such friends in this regard.
Let all of us come forward to put all our efforts and potential behind the great tradition of revered Bapu which can become the basis of India’s bright future and move ahead by taking pride in the heritage in the ‘Amrit Mahotsav’ of Independence. With this expectation, I end my speech by bowing respectfully to all mothers and sisters.