A blue khadi kurta.

Khadi (pronounced [kʰaːdiː], Khādī), derived from khaddar,[1][2][3] is a hand-spun and woven natural fibre cloth promoted by Mahatma Gandhi as swadeshi (self-sufficiency) for the freedom struggle of the Indian subcontinent, and the term is used throughout India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.[4][5] The first piece of the hand-woven cloth was manufactured in the Sabarmati Ashram during 1917–18. The coarseness of the cloth led Gandhi to call it khadi.[6] The cloth is made from cotton, but it may also include silk or wool, which are all spun into yarn on a charkha. It is a versatile fabric that remains cool in summer and warm in winter. To improve its appearance, khadi is sometimes starched to give it a stiffer feel. It is widely accepted in various fashion circles.[7]

Greco-Roman merchants imported finer cotton in large quantities to the Roman Empire. In medieval times, cotton textiles were imported to Rome through the maritime Silk Road. Arabian-Surat merchants traded cotton textiles to Basra and Baghdad from three areas of Gujarat, the Coromandel Coast and the East Coast of India. To the east, trade reached China via Java. 14th-century Moroccan traveler Ibn Battuta mentioned Delhi sultan Muhammad bin Tughluq sending five varieties of cloth to the Yuan emperor in China.[8] Some of the textiles are stored in repositories of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.[9]

Khadi is also known as khaddar
A signage kept at Kochi with an appeal to the citizens to use Khadi/handloom based wear.
Gandhi spinning
Gandhi spins by hand while addressing his followers
Mohandas Gandhi's bedroom, bed, desk, and spinning wheel in the Sabarmati Ashram

After the First Indian War of Independence in 1857, domestic textile production by mill or traditional methods declined to its lowest levels before khadi emerged as a "silent economic revolution" as an outcome of a long and laborious evolutionary process.[10]

The American Civil War (1861–1865) caused raw cotton crisis in Cottonopolis Britain. Indian cotton at cheap prices was sourced for them as the textile industry did not exist in India, and hand spinning was a dying art. During Victorian era (1837–1901), 47 mills existed in the 1870s but Indians still bought clothes at an artificially inflated price, since the colonial government exported the raw materials for cloth to British fabric mills, then re-imported the finished cloth to India.[11][better source needed][12] In the Edwardian era (1901–1914) the Swadeshi movement of boycotting foreign cloth remained prominent.[13] During the first two decades of the 20th century it was backed by nationalist politicians and Indian mill owners.

In 1922, Mahatma Gandhi requested the Indian National Congress (INC) to start a khadi department. In 1924, due to a large amount of work, a semi-independent body All India Khadi Board (AIKB) was formed which liaisoned with the INC's khadi department at the provincial and district levels. In 1925, the All India Spinner Association (AISA) was formed comprising the khadi department and AIKB. Mahatma Gandhi was the founder of AISA. He made it obligatory for all members of the INC to spin cotton themselves and pay their dues in yarn. Gandhi collected large sums of money to create grassroots-level khadi institutions to encourage spinning and weaving which were certified by AISA.[citation needed] Handspun yarn was expensive and of poor quality, and weavers preferred yarn produced by mills because it was more robust and consistent in quality. Gandhi argued that the mill owners would deny handloom weavers an opportunity to buy yarn because they would prefer to create a monopoly for their own cloth.[14] When some people complained about the costliness of khadi to Gandhi, he only wore dhoti, though he used wool shawls when it got cold. Some were able to make a reasonable living by using high-quality mill yarn and catering to the luxury market. Gandhi tried to put an end to this practice by threatening to give up khadi altogether, but since the weavers would have starved if they listened to him, they ignored the threat.[15] In 1919, Gandhi started spinning at Mani Bhawan Mumbai and encouraging others to do so. He invented Patti Charkha, using a double-wheel design to increase speed and control while reducing size. In 1946, when huge funds were being spent on development for more productive charkhas, he recommended takli over charkha.[16]

The khadi movement began in 1918 and was marked with its own changing dynamics. Initially, a clear emphasis could be seen on using khadi as an economic solution due to stagnation, from 1934 onwards the fabric became something that villagers could use for themselves.[17]

In 1921, Gandhi went to Chandina Upazila in Comilla, Bangladesh, to inspire local weavers and consequently in the greater Comilla region, weaving centers were developed in Mainamati, Muradnagar, Gauripur and Chandina.[18]

Khadi in post-independence India

In 1948, India recognized the role of rural cottage industries in its Industrial Policy Resolution. In 1948, Shri Ekambernathan invented amber charkha. The All India Khadi & Village Industries Board (AIKVIB) was set up in January 1953 by the Government of India. In 1955 it was decided that a statutory body, the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC), should replace the Board and the KVIC Act was passed in 1956, which brought the KVIC into existence as a statutory organisation the following year.[19]
After Independence, the government reserved some types of textile production, such as towel manufacturing for the handloom sector, which resulted in a deskilling of traditional weavers and a boost for the power loom sector. Private sector enterprises have been able to make handloom weaving somewhat remunerative and the government also continues to promote the use of Khadi through various initiatives.[15][20]

Prime Minister Narendra Modi during Khadi Utsav (27 Aug 2022), said "Khadi was ignored after Independence due to which weavers in the country suffered"[21] and asserted that khadi is a movement to help the poor, and further claimed that the KVIC is a statutory organisation engaged in promoting and developing khadi and village industries.[22]

Muslin (khadi) in Bangladesh

The Pakistan government saw khadi as emblematic of the ideology of Congress that had led the non-cooperation movement, so khadi organisations like the Noakhali Ambika Kalinga Charitable (NAKC) Trust, started on Gandhi's visit in 1946, were discouraged. Pakistan prime minister Firoz Khan Noon (1957–58), who remained Governor East Pakistan (1950-1953) was liberal towards khadi and established The Khadi and Cottage Industry Association in 1952. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's historic 7 March speech of Bangabandhu refueled the momentum to produce khadi. A sudden wave of demand persisted in Bangladesh for many years after the country's independence from Pakistan in 1971. In 1975, some years after the independence of Bangladesh, the NAKC trust was reformed and renamed the Gandhi Ashram Trust.[23]

Muslin was registered under Bangladesh as its geographical indication in 2020.[24]

The soft or refined khadi is known as muslin khadi. Researchers have tried to replicate muslin and identified phuti carpas as the variety from the DNA of cotton and from motifs used in making muslin sarees from Victoria & Albert Museum London of 1710 collection with 350 muslin sarees.[25]


The KVIC holds the exclusive rights to use the trademarks khadi and Khadi India. The National Internet Exchange of India Domain Dispute Policy Arbitration Tribunal in New Delhi rejected a private entity's claim that khadi is a generic word.[26][27][28] In 2017, KVIC and the government of India fought a case[29] at the EUIPO against a German company that had trademarked the word. While KVIC obtained the latest trademark registration in Bhutan on 9 July 2021; trademark registration was granted in UAE on 28 June 2021, and the organisation registered the trademark in Mexico in December 2020.[30]


The KVIC enrolled 2624 functional Khadi institutions[31] in India where decentralized units of Kshetriya Shri Gandhi Ashram in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, Zila Khadi Gramodyog Sangh[32] in Bihar and Jharkhand, Sarvodaya Sangh[33] in Tamilnadu have survived as the oldest operational Khadi organisations.[34]

See also


  1. ^ "Khadi, Khāḍi, Khādi: 10 definitions". wisdomlib.org. 3 August 2014. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  2. ^ wplly (19 April 2019). "The Origin of Khadi Fabric | Historical Story of Khadi". Khadi Cotton. Archived from the original on 7 November 2020. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  3. ^ "Khadi | Definition of Khadi by Oxford Dictionary on Lexico.com also meaning of Khadi". Lexico Dictionaries | English. Archived from the original on 29 October 2020. Retrieved 26 October 2020.
  4. ^ "The Fascinating History of the Fabric That Became a Symbol of India's Freedom Struggle". The Better India. 12 April 2017. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  5. ^ "Freedom@70: How Khadi is getting a new spin", The Economic Times, 13 August 2017.
  6. ^ Gonsalves, Peter (April 2015). "Clothing Choices in Gandhi's Swadeshi Movement". Gandhi Marg. 37 (1).
  7. ^ "Khadi". getcopaycom.ipage.com. Archived from the original on 27 July 2020. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  8. ^ Islam, Khademul. "Our Story of Dhaka Muslin". Aramco World. Retrieved 1 June 2016.
  9. ^ "Collections Search: Khadi". Victoria and Albert Museum.
  10. ^ The Story of Silent Economic Revolution. Bombay: Khadi & Village Industries Commission. 1958. OCLC 1174022.
  11. ^ Black, Carolyn (2003). Pakistan: The People. Crabtree Publishing Company. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-7787-9347-2.
  12. ^ Mahesh, Aggarwal R. C. /Bhatnagar (27 July 2005). Constitutional Development & National Movement in India. S. Chand Publishing. ISBN 9788121905657 – via Google Books.
  13. ^ "Historical background of Khadi". chandrakantalrks.org. Archived from the original on 22 October 2017. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  14. ^ Sinha, Sangita. "The Story Of Khadi, India's Signature Fabric". Culture Trip. Retrieved 8 August 2017.
  15. ^ a b "Saturday Dressing: Kerala govt staff opt for khadi". Business Standard. Press Trust of India. 6 January 2007. Retrieved 20 March 2016.
  16. ^ Shepard, Mark (27 July 2016). "Charkha Master A Meeting with Narayan Desai".
  17. ^ Gandhi, M.K (1955). Gandhiji on Khadi (PDF). Navajivan Publishing House.
  18. ^ "The story of Khadi". Star LifeStyle. Dhaka: The Daily Star. 13 December 2011. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
  19. ^ Parekh, Geetanjali (2010). History of Khadi. NBT National Book Trust. pp. 38–39. ISBN 978-8123760421. Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  20. ^ "Mann Ki Baat: PM Modi urges India to embrace Gandhi's legacy 'Khadi'". Zee News. 1 February 2016. Retrieved 10 June 2016.
  21. ^ @PTI_News (27 August 2022). "Khadi was ignored after Independence due to which weavers in the country suffered: PM Modi. PTI KA PD KRK" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  22. ^ "PM Modi in Mann Ki Baat: Khadi not a cloth, but a movement to help the poor". Business Standard. 24 September 2017. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  23. ^ Bhuiyan, Mohammed. "Fashion output on Khadi in Bangladesh : A Review". Research Gate. Retrieved 1 December 2017.
  24. ^ Kalam, Abdul. "GI recognition Muslin belongs to Bangladesh". Good Day Bangladesh. Retrieved 1 January 2021.
  25. ^ "Muslin Khadi". West Bengal Khadi & Village Industries Board (WBKVIB). 29 October 2018.
  26. ^ "Tribunal bars unauthorised use of Khadi brand name". Indiaretailing.com. 21 May 2021. Retrieved 23 May 2021.
  27. ^ "'Khadi', 'Khadi India' not generic names, rules tribunal". The Hindu. 20 May 2021. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 23 May 2021.
  28. ^ "KVIC: Court bars individuals/cos from using 'Khadi' brand name without authorisation". www.millenniumpost.in. 20 May 2021. Retrieved 23 May 2021.
  29. ^ Shairwal, Sakshar Law Associates-Sakshi (22 June 2021). "Khadi v Khadi - Khadi's Plight in the EUIPO". Lexology. Retrieved 15 August 2022.
  30. ^ "KVIC Secures Trademark Registrations in Bhutan, UAE & Mexico; Files Applications in 40 Countries to Protect Brand "Khadi"". Orissa Diary.
  31. ^ "Khadi Institutions Profiles". KVIC. Retrieved 11 July 2022.
  32. ^ "Industrial Decentralization-A Case Study of Khadi and Village Industries in Jharkhand". Research Gate. p. 511. Retrieved 12 July 2022.
  33. ^ "A STUDY ON OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCY OF SARVODAYA SANGHS IN VIRUDHUNAGAR DISTRICT" (PDF). Madurai Kamraj University. pp. 2–3. Retrieved 12 July 2022.
  34. ^ "Report on Re-categorisation of Khadi Institutions Revised Framework and Analysis" (PDF). KVIC. p. 2. Retrieved 12 July 2022.