To imbibe a “Khadi mindset” is to recognize the potential of fabric, and by association everyday fashion, which not only reinforces our personal style, but also our deeply rooted identity. If Gandhi were alive today, he would be as popular with Millennials and Gen Z as he was with young people of his day. From the protests led by Dr Martin Luther King in the 1960s to the current Extinction Rebellion rallies, it was Gandhi’s “khadi mindset” that inspired people as they walk arm in arm for inclusivity, diversity, fair wages, gender-rights, etc. On our television screens, we see clothes in the colors of the rainbow, slogans on T-shirts announcing political, economic and social convictions, engraved as much in the minds as on the bodies. Scratch beneath the surface, and this urban grassroots activism and nonviolent protest is imbued with a deep empathy for the marginalized. And Gandhi was the dynamic promoter of activism and the ultimate beacon of compassion.
Today, we must go beyond metaphors and symbolism, and lucidly recognize that by what we buy, wear, support, we are able to affirm certain truisms: that there is a huge difference between dignity labor and inhuman labor; and there is a profound difference between wealth and money – the inability to distinguish between the two being what Alan Watts has called “civilization’s peculiar and perhaps fatal fallacy”. Our passage on earth is marked by our quest for a perfect mixture: the joy of work and the bliss of leisure, ideals which we must wish for others as we wish for ourselves. This “khadi mindset” is about being able to recognize that hard work, passion, and creative intent should serve the many, not just the few. It is the economy’s conversion of “labour” power into “human” power. Our sacred quest must be to make visible the invisible hands that create.
A Khadi State of Mind is our totemic ideological richness inherited from the struggles of the past. Therefore, it is imperative to resuscitate this attitude in a world plagued by ‘bigger is better’, ‘faster and faster’ and ‘more and more’ to the detriment of those who are without voice in our fashion supply chain. It is, in a word, a call to Sarvodaya or well-being for all, something Gandhi experienced.
On the 75th anniversary of India’s freedom, this is a plea to challenge the jaded distortions of power that have ruined our precious land; a plea to fight against the economic imbalances in our industry that ruin families and agricultural land. It is a Gandhian call to action for an eco-consciousness and an economy of benevolence.
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