I’ve recently been immersed in field research, prepping reports and delivering presentations on some very rudimentary human issues surrounding food, other ancient commodities and the identities and rituals that swirl around them as they conjure various cultural experiences and expressions, so it struck me worth providing a link to an article, “Reinventing Brand Khadi,” that appeared in The Economic Times a couple of weeks ago. For those who don’t know, khadi is the cottage industry cloth worn – and made somewhat famous – by Mahatma Gandhi. And, for the same people who don’t know, it’s been in an increasingly steep decline towards less-than-fashionable over the decades. That’s sad because, like food, khadi holds an important place in the cultural – and political – heart of India. As the authors note,
“Never in history has a length of cloth played as central a role in shaping a nation’s destiny as khadi has in India’s freedom struggle. For that matter, never has cloth been as intrinsic to a country’s formative ethos as khadi has been to the notion of Indian nationhood. For what Mahatma Gandhi achieved, when he first sat himself down at the humble charkha, was not only to set in motion a mass rebellion to Colonial rule, but also lay the tenets of simplicity, self-reliance and empowerment which went on to become the cornerstone of an entire generation’s belief-system.”
What struck me about the article, other than the fact that the authors talked to Vinita Kapur, social anthropologist & head of the ethnography division at Quantum Market Research, are the re-branding initiatives taking place under the flagship of Brand Khadi. It’s worth checking out, particularly if you’re interested in how to appreciate the old and make it tap back into the new.