Khadi Board renamed as Khadi India; Rs 12 Cr clothes project awarded
The Assam Khadi and Village Industries Board (AKVIB) has got a new lease of life after the state government announced to gift khadi clothes to government service holders on Bohag Bihu and making it mandatory to wear the same once a month. The Khadi Board has also been renamed as Khadi India as people will now get khadi material all over the country without specific names like Assam Khadi, Bengal Khadi, Kerela Khadi etc as earlier. In the 65 years since its inception, the board has only fabricated flags during Independence Day and Republic day and produced mustard oil and handmade paper.
On 2nd October, state finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma announced the gifting of khadi clothes to government employees and also said that government schools will be provided with khadi uniforms. This is the first major project and the board has been asked to produce some two lakh shirts and half a lakh kurtas and sarees or mekhala sadors before Bohag Bihu - the beginning of the Assamese New Year.
How successful will the project be?
The state government had, on an earlier occasion, issued a directive to its employees to wear traditional dresses on the second and fourth Saturdays. This was not followed by the employees except for a few of them and now that the government has made it mandatory to wear khadi clothes once a month, it is doubtful whether the directive would be followed. It is also uncertain whether the Khadi Board will be able to deliver the products on time as the board does not have sufficient manpower. “The weavers of the board are not permanent and they work for only two-three months. Whenever they get other contracts, they leave. The production of khadi clothes is not constant and therefore the weavers do not stay for long for a single work. The board is not in a position to make the yarn in the state and so it is procuring it from outside,” said in-charge of AKVIB, Satyaranjan Ghosh while speaking to G Plus.
He said that the board will be happy if they are able to produce the clothes which will be gifted to the government employees. The state government has taken a good decision as khadi clothes are very comfortable to wear but it depends on the board and whether it will be able to fulfil the project or not, said Ghosh. He informed that the board is targeting some specific districts where the numbers of weavers are more so that the production could be increased at a time. “We have also tied up with some NGOs to fulfil the project by engaging the weavers. The weavers will weave the cloth, after which the stitching, dying, printing, calendaring and other processing will be done at the board’s headquarter premises. The board also proposes to engage a specialist designer for the project,” said Ghosh.
State Finance Minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma, said that there are around 4 lakh employees and accordingly the project will cost around Rs 12 crores. He said that the initiative has been taken to revive the board which has lost its dignity.
Government school students to get khadi uniforms
Is the state education minister making a fool of the people and the students by saying that the government will provide khadi uniforms to the students of government schools? “When the schools have not received their regular uniforms from the last two years, how can we expect to get khadi uniforms immediately? Khadi clothes are comfortable and we want that students should avail that comfort during the summer season but it is not possible as the government only deceives the people. Instead of focusing on providing khadi uniforms first they should emphasize on providing the regular uniforms which students have not received since two-three years. The parents cannot afford to buy the uniforms for which the students have to come to school without uniform while some others wear their old uniforms,” said the principal of a lower primary school in the city.
On the other hand, an official of Khadi Board said that to provide the khadi uniform it will take some time as the board does not have sufficient manpower. “We have already been asked to provide khadi dresses for government employees before Bohag Bihu and as we do not have enough manpower we need some time. It is not possible to provide the uniforms within a limited time as there are more than 50 lakhs students in the state,” the official said.
Moreover, the Assam State Primary Teachers’ Association alleged that whenever the state government is approached to provide the uniforms they blame the central government saying that they do not receive adequate funds for it. An estimated fund of Rs. 170 crores is required annually for the school uniforms as informed by the teachers’ association.
However, not all the weaving will be done at the centres. “The weavers can take the yarn from the centres and weave at their homes while doing their other chores, which is a part of Assamese culture. More people will come forward if we give the weavers this flexibility,” the official said.
The board says that once the yarn is provided to the weavers, the fabric would be ready in two months’ time. Employees of the board are hopeful of executing the project within the given time-frame if the required funds are made available.
• State government to provide khadi garments to government employees
• 4 lakh employees will get khadi garments as gift on Bohag Bihu
• State education minister announced to give khadi uniforms in government schools
• The Khadi Board has been awarded the project worth Rs. 12 crores
•Khadi Board suffering from inadequate manpower