Why Village Industries
I recall a conversation I had with Fazalbhai in 1920 when I was on the eve of launching the movement of Swadeshi. He characteristically said to me, ' If you, Congressmen, become advertising agents of ours, you will do no good to the country except to put a premium on our wares and to raise the prices of our manufactures. His argument was sound. But he was nonplussed when I informed him that I was to encourage hand-spun and hand-woven Khadi which had been woefully neglected and which needed to be revived if the starving and unemployed millions were to be served.
But Khadi is not the only such struggling industry. I therefore suggest to you to direct your attention and effort to all the small-scale, minor, unorganized industries that arc today in need of public support. They may be wiped out if no effort is made in their behalf. Some of these are being pushed back by large-scale industries which flood the markets with their manufactures. It is these that cry for your help.
Cent Par Cent Swadeshi 1958, p. 4
I have no doubt in my mind that we add to the national wealth if we help the small-scale industries. I have no doubt also that true Swadeshi consists in encouraging and reviving these home industries. That alone can help the dumb millions. It also provides an outlet for the creative faculties and resourcefulness of the people. It can also usefully employ hundreds of youths in the country who are in need of employment. It may harness all the energy that at present runs to waste. I do not want any one of those who are engaged in more remunerative occupations to leave them and take to the minor industries. Just as I did with regard to the spinning wheel, I would ask only those who suffer from unemployment and penury to take to some of these industries and add a little to their slender resources.
It will thus be seen that the change in activity that I have suggested to you does in no way conflict with the interests of the major industries. I want to say only this much that you, national servants, will restrict your activities to the minor industries and let the major ones help themselves as they are doing today. The minor industries I conceive will not replace the major ones, but will supplement them.
Cent Par Cent Swadeshi 1958, p.5
We may profess to gratuitously help textile, sugar and rice mills and, respectively, kill the village spinning wheel, the handloom and their product, Khadi, the village cane-crusher and its product, the vitamin-laden and nourishing gud or molasses, and the hand-pounder and its product, unpolished rice, whose pericarp, which holds the vitamins, is left intact by these pounders. Our clear duty is, therefore, to investigate the possibility of keeping in existence the village wheel, the village crusher and the village pounder, and, by advertising their products, discovering their qualities, ascertaining the condition of the workers and the number displaced by the power driven machinery and discovering the methods of improving them, whilst retaining their village character, to enable them to stand the competition of the mills. How terribly and criminally we have neglected them! Here there is no antagonism to the textile or the sugar or the rice mills. Their products must be preferred to the corresponding foreign products. If they were in danger of extinction from foreign competition, they should receive the needed support. But they stand in no such need. They are flourishing in spite of foreign competition. What is needed is protection of the village crafts and the workers behind them from the crushing competition of the power driven machinery, whether it is worked in India or in foreign lands. It may be that Khadi, gud and unpolished rice have no intrinsic quality and that they should die. But, except for Khadi not the slightest effort has been made, so far as I am aware, to know anything about the fate of the tens of thousands of villagers who were earning their livelihood through crushing cane and pounding rice.
H., 10-8’34, p.204
I have ruled out organized industries, not because they are not Swadeshi, but because they do not need special support. They can stand on their own legs and, in the present state of our awakening, can easily command a market.
H., 28-9’34, p.259
In a nutshell, of the things we use, we should restrict our purchases to the articles which villages manufacture. Their manufactures may be crude. We must try to induce them to improve their workmanship, and not dismiss them because foreign articles or even articles produced in cities, that is big factories, are superior. In other words, we should evoke the artistic talent of the villager. In this manner shall we repay somewhat the debt we owe to them. We need not be frightened by the thought whether we shall ever succeed in such an effort. Within our own times we can recall instances where we have not been baffled by the difficulty of our tasks when we have known that they were essential for the nation's progress. If, therefore, we as individuals believe that revivification of India's villages is a necessity of our existence, if we believe that thereby only can we root out untouchability and feel one with all, no matter to what community or religion they may belong, we must mentally go back to the villages and treat them as our pattern, instead of putting the city life before them for imitation. If this is the correct attitude, then, naturally, we begin with ourselves and thus use, say, hand-made paper instead of mill-made, use village reed, wherever possible, instead of the fountain pen or the penholder, ink made in the villages instead of the big factories, etc. I can multiply instances of this nature. There is hardly anything of daily use in the home which the villagers have not made before and cannot make even now. If we perform the mental trick and fix our gaze upon them, we immediately put millions of rupees into the pockets of the villagers, whereas at the present moment we are exploiting the villagers without making any return worth the name. It is time we arrested the progress of the tragedy.
H., 30-11’34, p.332
Bit by bit village people are being confined only to the hand-to-mouth business of scratching the earth. Few know today that agriculture in the small and irregular holdings of India is not a paying proposition. The villagers live a lifeless life. Their life is a process of slow starvation. They are burdened with debts.
H., 16-11’34, p.316
Extinction of village industries would complete the ruin of the 7,00,000 villages in India.
H., 16-11’34, p.316
Mechanization is good when the hands are too few for the work intended to be accomplished. It is an evil when there are more hands than required for the work, as is the case in India.
H., 16-11’34, p.316
But if the cloth manufactured in mills displaces village hands, rice mills and flour mills not only displace thousands of poor women workers, but damage the health of the whole population in the bargain. Where people have no objection to taking flesh diet and can afford it, white flour and polished rice may do no harm, but in India, where millions can get no flesh diet even where they have no objection to eating it if they can get it, it is sinful to deprive them of nutritious and vital elements contained in whole wheat meal and unpolished rice. It is time medical men and others combined to instruct the people on the danger attendant upon the use of white flour and polished rice.
H., 16-11’34, p.316
The way to take work to the villagers is not through mechanization but through revival of the industries they have hitherto followed.
H., 16-11’34, p.316
'Hence the function of the All India Village Industries Association must, in my opinion, be to encourage the existing industries and to revive, where it is possible and desirable, the dying or dead industries of villages according to the village methods, i.e. the villagers working in their own cottages as they have done from times immemorial. These simple methods can be considerably improved as they have been in hand-ginning, hand-carding, hand-spinning and hand-weaving.
H., 16-11’34, p.316
Khadi is the sun of the village solar system. The planets are the various industries which can support Khadi in return for the heat and the sustenance they derive from it. Without it, the other industries cannot grow. But during my last tour I discovered that, without the revival of the other industries, Khadi could not make further progress. For villagers to be able to occupy their spare time profitably, the village must be touched at all points.
H., 16-11’34, p.317
Involuntary and voluntary idleness of villagers make them a perpetual prey of exploiters, foreign and indigenous. Whether the exploiter is from outside or from the Indian cities, their state would be the same, they would have no Swaraj. So I said to myself, ' Let these people be asked to do something else; if they will not interest themselves in Khadi, let them take up some work which used to be done by their ancestors, but which has of late died out.' There are numerous things of daily use which they used to produce themselves not many years ago, but for which they now depend on the outer world. There are numerous things of daily use to the town-dweller for which he depends on the villagers, but which he now imports from cities. The moment the villagers .decide to devote all their spare time to doing something useful and town-dwellers to use those village products, the snapped link between the villagers and the town-dwellers would be restored.
H., 7-12’34, p.340
I am not asking the city-dwellers to go to and live in the villages. But I am asking them to render unto the villagers what is due to them. Is there any single raw material that the city-dwellers can obtain except from the villager? If they cannot, why not teach him to work on it himself, as he used to before and as he would do now but for our exploiting inroads?
H., 7-12’34, p.340-41
We shall have to see that the villagers become first of all self-contained and then cater for the needs of the city-dwellers.
H., 7-12’34, p.341
Other village industries come in as a hand-maid to Khadi. They cannot exist without Khadi, and Khadi will be robbed of its dignity without them. Village economy cannot be complete without the essential village industries such as hand-grinding, hand-pounding, soap-making, paper-making, matchmaking, tanning, oil-pressing, etc. Congressmen can interest themselves in these and, if they are villagers or will settle down in villages, they will give these industries a new life and a new dress. All should make it a point of honour to use only village articles whenever and wherever available. Given the demand there is no doubt that most of our wants can be supplied from our villages. When we have become village- minded, we will not want imitations of the West or machine-made products, but we will develop a true national taste in keeping with the vision of a new India in which pauperism., starvation and idleness will be unknown.
Constructive Programme, 1961, p.16-17
The revival of village industries is but an extension of the Khadi effort. Hand-spun cloth, handmade paper, hand-pounded rice, home-made bread and jam, are not uncommon in the West. Only there they do not have one-hundredth of the importance they have in India. For, with us, their revival means life, their destruction means death, to the villagers, as he who runs may see. Whatever the machine age may do, it will never give "employment to the millions whom the wholesale introduction of power machinery must displace.
H., 4-1’35, p.372
All of us should be convinced that the Charkha is the symbol of non-violent economic self-sufficiency.
Khadi- Why and How, 1959, p.150
The pursuit of the Charkha must become the mainspring of manifold other activities like village industries, Nai Talim etc. If we are able to adopt the Charkha intelligently we can revive the entire economic life of our villages once more.
Khadi- Why and How, 1959, p.151
Our worker should be able to identify himself with all that requires to be done in the village, that is, with the entire life of the village and yet feel as light as ever.
Khadi- Why and How, 1959, p.159
I regard Charkha as the centre of village uplift. In addition, the worker will have to see what other village crafts can prosper in his village. The first in order among these crafts will be the bullock oil-press. Our worker would have to know its technique which has now been scientifically improved at Maganwadi. Another industry which may be introduced is handmade paper. This has to be learnt not with the view of supplying paper to the whole country but in order to make the village self-sufficient and capable of earning a little income.
Next to oil and hand-made paper we must revive the hand-chakki (grinding stone) — a vital thing in every village. Otherwise flour-mills which have been a source of anxiety to me for several years will be our fate. Similarly in regard to rice. We must get our people in the villages to take to hand-pounding of rice or hand-chakkis for husking paddy, for it is a well-established fact that the white polished rice put out by mills is harmful to health.
Khadi- Why and How, 1959, p.162
The village worker should acquire all-round knowledge about building up the whole village. There will be some sewing work in the village, smithy, carpentry, leather work, agriculture, etc. The village worker should seek to bring about co-operation among the workers in these various occupations so as to make them serve as harmonious parts of one whole.
Khadi- Why and How, 1959, p.163
Now we have to do the work anew with the objective of all-round village uplift. Let us see how far we can go. Even if our present activities have to be slackened or reduced to nought for sometime on account of these changes, it does not matter. We have created some sentiment about Khadi among the people. But if there is some error in what we told the people about the significance of Khadi we must pause. If ours was a wrong claim we must declare our error openly and withdraw our claim.
I would ask city-dwellers to produce their own Khadi. I would forgo the temptation to supply Khadi to them. We shall go and settle in the villages. In case workers want to leave us on account of this change we shall let them go. Unless our head and heart are converted to this extent we cannot achieve the desired result. We of the A.I.S.A. will merely direct policy. But decentralizing our work as much as possible we shall free ourselves from day to day Khadi work completely. Thereafter we shall concentrate our energy and attention on the other activities or crafts carried out in the vicinity of the village we settle in. Only then will the real substance of our work be realized. . . .Today our main concern should be to lay the foundation for this work as deep as possible.
Khadi- Why and How, 1959, p.177
I am thinking of ways and means of improving the condition of the people through a rehabilitation of agriculture, cattle-breeding and all other village industries. My problem will be solved, if I succeed even in half a dozen villages, for as is the part so is the whole.
Khadi- Why and How, 1959, p.181
Begin with Yourself
Correspondents have been writing, and friends have been seeing me, to ask me how to begin the village industries work and what to do first.
The obvious answer is, "Begin with yourself and do first that which is easiest for you to do."
This answer, however, does not satisfy the enquirers. Let me, therefore, be more explicit. Each person can examine all the articles of food, clothing and other things that he uses from day to day and replace foreign makes or city makes, by those produced by the villagers in their homes or fields with the simple inexpensive tools they can easily handle and mend. This replacement will be itself, an education of great value and a solid beginning. The next step will be opened out to him of itself. For instance, say, the beginner has been hitherto using a tooth-brush made in a Bombay factory. He wants to replace it with a village brush. He is advised to use a babul twig. If he has weak teeth or is toothless, he has to crush one end of it, with a rounded stone or a hammer, on a hard surface. The other end he slits with a knife and uses the halves as tongue- scrapers. He will find these brushes to be cheaper and much cleaner than the very unhygienic factory- made tooth-brush. The city-made tooth-powder he naturally replaces with equal parts of clean, finely- ground, wood-charcoal and clean salt. He will replace mill-cloth with village-spun Khadi, and mill- husked rice with hand-husked, unpolished rice, and white sugar with village-made gur. These I have taken merely as samples ... to deal with the difficulties that have been mentioned by those who have been discussing the question with me.
H., 25-1-’35, p.400
Criminal negligence is the only cause of the miserable condition of our cattle. Our pinjrapoles, though they are an answer to our instinct for mercy, are a clumsy demonstration of its execution. Instead of being model dairy farms and great profitable national institutions, they are merely depots for receiving decrepit cattle. Whilst professing the religion of cow protection, we have enslaved the cow and her progeny, and have become slaves ourselves.
Y.I, 6-10-’21, p.318
An ideal goshala would supply the city of its domicile with cheap and wholesome milk from cattle of its own keeping, and cheap and lasting foot-wear not out of slaughtered hide but of the hide of dead cattle. Such a goshala will not be on one or two acres of ground in the heart of a city or in its immediate neighbourhood but it would have at some distance, but within easy reach, fifty to a hundred acres of ground where a modern dairy and a modern tannery would be conducted on strictly business but national lines. Thus there would be no profits and no dividends to be paid and there would be also no loss incurred.. In the long run such institutions dotted all over India would be a triumph of Hinduism and would be proof of Hindu earnestness about cow, that is, cattle protection and it would provide decent employment for thousands of men including educated men; for both dairy and tannery work requires expert scientific knowledge. Not Denmark but Indian should be a model State for the finest dairy experiments, and India should not to her shame have to export nine crore rupees worth of dead cattle hide annually and for her consumption use slaughtered cattle hide.
If such a state of things is a shame for India it is a greater shame for Hindus. I wish that all the goshala Committees will fake to heart the remarks I made in reply to the Giridih address and make their goshalas into ideal dairies and tanneries and a refuge for all worn out and maimed cattle.
Y.I., 22-10-’25, p.361
Every goshala or pinjrapole should have a tannery adequate to its needs attached to it. In other words, the manager in charge of every such institution should have a thorough knowledge of the immediate steps necessary for utilizing the remains of dead cattle. If this is done, the question, viz. how many heads of cattle should a particular goshala contain, would not arise at all.
I do not know what the rate of mortality of cattle in goshalas is nor is it relevant to my proposition. So long as there is a single head of cattle in a goshala its manager ought to know how to dispose of its remains after it is dead, just as he is expected to know how to look after it while it is alive.
Such humanitarian institutions for the protection of cattle as I have described should normally take charge of the remains of the cattle that might die in the village. Therein lies the interest of the cattle, the depressed classes and the general public alike. In villages where there are no goshalas or the concomitant tanneries, some local person who believes in cow protection should take it upon himself to get the carcasses removed to the nearest tannery or get the preliminary processes performed upon it and send the useful parts there.
The establishment of such tanneries as I have described does not require much capital outlay. Only some initial expenditure would be needed to train up workers for this work.
Y.I., 3-11-1-’27, p.367
Hand-pounding of Rice and Hand-grinding of Corn
In my writing on cent per cent Swadeshi, I have shown how some aspects of it can be tackled immediately with benefit to the starving millions both economically and hygienically. The richest in the land can share the benefit. Thus if rice can be pounded in the villages after the old fashion, the wages will fill the pockets of the rice-pounding sisters and the rice-eating millions will get some sustenance from the unpolished rice instead of pure starch which the polished rice provides. Human greed, which takes no account of the health or the wealth of the people who come under its heels, is responsible for the hideous rice-mills one sees in all the rice-producing tracts. If public opinion was strong, it will make rice-mills an impossibility by simply insisting on unpolished rice and appealing to the owners of rice-mills to stop a traffic that undermines the health of a whole nation and robs the poor people of an honest means of livelihood.
H., 26-10-’34, p.292
I regard the existence of power wheels for the grinding of corn in thousands of villages as the limit of our helplessness. I suppose India does not produce all the engines or grinding machines. . . . The planting of such machinery and engines on a large scale in villages is also a sign of greed. Is it proper to fill one's pockets in this manner at the expense of the poor? Every such machinery puts thousands of hand-chakkis out of work and takes away employment from thousands of housewives and artisans who make these chakkis. Moreover, the process is infective and will spread to every village industry. The decay of the latter spells too the decay of art. If it meant replacement of old crafts by new ones, one might not have much to say against it. But this is not what is happening. In the thousands of villages where power machinery exists, one misses the sweet music in the early morning of the grinders at work.
H., 10-3-’46, p.34
Machine Oil and Ghani Oil
Shri Jhaverbhai has also examined the cause of the decline of the village ghani. The most potent cause is the inability of the oilman to command a regular supply of seeds. The villages are practically deluded of seeds after the season. The oilman has no money to store the seeds, much less to buy them in. the cities. Therefore he has disappeared or is fast disappearing. Lakhs of ghanis are today lying idle causing a tremendous waste of the country's resources. Surely it is the function of the State to resuscitate the existing ghanis by conserving seeds in the places of their origin and making them available to the village oilman at reasonable rates. The Government loses nothing by giving this aid. It can be given, so Shri Jhaverbhai contends, through co-operative societies or Panchayats. If this is done, Shri Jhaverbhai is of opinion, based on research, that ghani oil can compete with the machine product and villager can be spared the infliction of the adulterated oil he gets today. It should be borne in mind that the only fat the villager gets, when he gets any, is what the oils can give him. To ghee he is generally a stranger. He (Shri Jhaverbhai) has found out why this machine oil is at all cheaper than the ghani oil. He gives three reasons, two of which are unavoidable. They are capital and the ability of the machine to extract the last drop of oil and that too in a shorter time than the ghani. These advantages are neutralized by the commission the owner of this oil mill has to pay to the middleman. But Shri Jhaverbhai cannot cope with the third reason, adulteration, unless he also takes to it. This naturally he will not do. He therefore suggests that adulteration should be dealt with by the law. This can be done by enforcing the Anti-Adulteration Act if there is one or by enacting it by licensing oil mills.
H., 2-9-’39, p.253
Gur and Khandsari
Take the sugar industry. The largest major industry next to the textile is that of the manufacture of sugar. It stands in no need of our assistance. Sugar factories are fast multiplying. Popular agencies have done little to help the growth of this industry. It is indebted for its growth to favourable legislation. And today the industry is so prosperous and expanding that the production of jaggery is becoming a thing of the past. It is admittedly superior to refined sugar in nutritive value. It is this very valuable cottage industry that cries out for your help. This by itself furnishes large scope for research and substantial help. We have to investigate the ways and means of keeping it alive. This is but an illustration of what I mean.
Cent Per Cent Swadeshi, 1958, p.5
The advantages, attributed to tadi, are all available from other foodstuffs. Tadi is made out of khajuri juice. Fresh khajuri juice is not an intoxicant. It is known as nira in Hindustani and many people have been cured of their constipation as a result of drinking nira. I have taken it myself though it did not act as a laxative with me. I found that it had the same food value as sugarcane juice. If one drinks a glass of nira in the morning instead of drinking tea etc., he should not need anything else for breakfast. As in the sugarcane juice, palm juice can be boiled to make palm jaggery. Khajuri is a variety of palm tree. Several varieties of palm grow spontaneously in our country. All of them yield drinkable juice. As nira gets fermented very quickly, it has to be used up immediately and therefore on the spot. Since this condition is difficult to fulfill except to a limited extent, in practice, the best use of nira is to convert it into palm jaggery. Palm jaggery can well replace sugarcane jaggery. In fact some people prefer it to the latter. One advantage of palm jaggery over sugarcane jaggery is that it is less sweet and therefore one can eat more of it. The All-India Village Industries Association has done a great deal to popularize palm jaggery, but much remains to be done. If the palms that are used for making tadi are used for making jaggery, India will never lack sugar and the poor will be able to get good jaggery for very little money. Palm jaggery can be converted into molasses and refined sugar. But the jaggery is much more useful than refined sugar. The salts present in the jaggery are lost in the process of refining. Just as refined wheat flour and polished rice lose some of their nutritive value because of the loss of the pericarp, refined sugar also loses some of the nutritive value of the jaggery. One may generalize that all foodstuffs are richer if taken in their natural state as far as possible.
Key to Health, 1960, p.33-34
Bee-keeping seems to me to possess immense possibilities. Apart from its village value, it may be cultivated as a hobby by moneyed young men and women. They will add to the wealth of the country and produce the finest health-giving sugar for themselves. If they are philanthropically inclined, they can distribute it as health-giving food among sickly Harijan children. There is no reason why it should be a luxury of the rich or an expensive medicinal vehicle in the hands of the hakims and vaidyas. No doubt, my hope is based on inferences drawn from meagre data. Experiments that may be made in villages and in cities by young men and women should show whether honey can become a common article of food or has to remain an uncommon article, which it is today.
H., 1-2-’35, p.407
It is estimated that rupees nine crores worth of raw hide is annually exported from India and that much of it is returned to her in the shape of manufactured articles. This means not only a material, but also an intellectual, drain. We miss the training we should receive in tanning and preparing the innumerable articles of leather we need for daily use.
Tanning requires great technical skill. An army of chemists can find scope for their inventive talent in this great industry. There are two ways of developing. One for the uplift of Harijans living in the villages and eking out a bare sustenance, living in filth and degradation and consigned to the village ghetto, isolated and away from the village proper. This way means part reorganization of villages and taking art, education, cleanliness, prosperity and dignity to them. This means also the application of chemical talent to village uplift. Tanning chemists have to discover improved methods of tanning. The village chemist has to stoop to conquer. He has to learn and understand the crude village tanning, which is still in existence but which is fast dying owing to neglect, not to say want of support. But the crude method may not be summarily scrapped, at least not before a sympathetic examination. It has served well for centuries. It could not have done so, if it had no merit. The only research I know in this direction is being carried on in Santiniketan, and then it was started at the now defunct Ashram at Sabarmati. I have not been able to keep myself in touch with the progress of the experiment at Santiniketan. There is every prospect of its revival at the Harijan Ashram, which the Sabarmati Ashram has now become. These experiments are mere drops in the ocean of possible research.
Cow-preservation is an article of faith in Hinduism. No Harijan worth his salt will kill cattle for food. But, having become untouchable, he has learnt the evil habit of eating carrion. He will not kill a cow but will eat with the greatest relish the flesh of a dead cow. It may be physiologically harmless. But psychologically there is nothing, perhaps, so repulsive as carrion-eating. And yet, when a dead cow is brought to a Harijan tanner's house, it is a day of rejoicing for the whole household. Children dance round the carcass, and as the animal is flayed, they take hold of bones or pieces of flesh and throw them at one another. As a tanner, who is living at the Harijan Ashram, describing the scenes at his own now forsaken home, tells me the whole family is drunk with joy at the sight of the dead animal. I know how hard I have found it working among Harijans to wean them from the soul-destroying habit of eating carrion. Reformed tanning means the automatic disappearance of carrion-eating.
Well, here is the use for high intelligence and the art of dissection. Here is also a mighty step in the direction of cow-preservation. The cow must die at the hands of the butcher, unless we learn the art of increasing her capacity of milk-giving, unless we improve her stock and make her male progeny more useful for the field and carrying burdens, unless we make scientific use of all her excreta as manure, and unless, when she and hers die, we are prepared to make the wisest use of her hide, bone, flesh, entrails, etc.
I am just now concerned only with the carcass. It is well to remember here that the village tanner, thank God, has to deal only with the carcass, not the slaughtered animal. He has no means of bringing the dead animal in a decent way. He lifts it, drags it, and this injures the skin and reduces the value of the hide. If the villagers and the public knew the priceless and noble service the tanner renders, they will provide easy and simple methods of carrying it, so as not to injure the skin at all.
The next process is flaying the animal. This requires great skill. I am told that none, not even surgeons, do this work better or more expeditiously than the village tanner does with his village knife. I have inquired of those who should know. They have not been able to show me an improvement upon the village tanner. This is not to say that there is none better. I merely give the reader the benefit of my own very limited experience. The village tanner has no use for the bone. He throws it away. Dogs hover round the carcass whilst it is flayed, and take away some, if not all, of the bones. This is a dead loss to the country. The bones, if powdered fine, apart from their other uses, make valuable manure. What remains after the dogs have taken away their share is transported to foreign countries and returns to us in the shape of handles, buttons, etc.
The second way is urbanizing this great industry. There are several tanneries in India doing this work. Their examination is outside the scope of this article. This urbanization can do little good to the Harijans, much less to the villages. It is a process of double drain from the villages. Urbanization in India is slow but sure death for her villages and villagers. Urbanization can never support ninety per cent of India's population, which is living in her 7,00,000 villages. To remove from these villages tanning and such other industries is to remove what little opportunity there still is for making skilled use of the hand and the head. And when the village handicrafts disappear, the villagers working only with their cattle on the field, with idleness for six or four months in the year, must, in the words of Madhusudan Das, be reduced to the level of the beast and be without proper nourishment, either of the mind or the body, and, therefore, without joy and without hope.
Here is work for the cent per cent Swadeshi lover and scope for the harnessing of technical skill to the solution of a great problem. The work fells three apples with one throw. It serves the Harijans, it serves the villagers, and it means honourable employment for the middle class intelligentsia who are in search of employment. Add to this the fact that intelligentsia have a proper opportunity of coming in direct touch with the villagers.
H., 7-9-’34, p.236-37
Villages would prepare their own soap from sajji-clay. That soap will not have the luring fragrance of soaps turned out in the factories of Tata and Godrej. Its packing also will not be so attractive. But it will have the quality of self-sufficiency even like Khadi.
Khadi- Why and How, 1959, p. 185
I was told that, if there were enough orders, the paper could be supplied at the same cost as the mill-made article. I know that hand-made paper can never supply the daily growing demand for paper. But lovers of the seven hundred thousand villages and their handicrafts will always want to use hand-made paper, if it is easily procurable. Those who use hand-made paper know that it has a charm of its own. Who does not know the famous Ahmedabad paper? What mill-made paper can beat it in durability or polish?
The account-books of the old style are still made of that paper. But it is probably a perishing industry like many such others. With a little encouragement, it ought never to perish. If there was supervision, the processes might be improved and the defects that are to be noticed with some of this hand-made paper may be easily removed. The economic condition of the numberless people engaged in these little known trades is well worth investigating. They will surely allow themselves to be guided and advised and feel thankful to those who would take interest in them.
H., 14-9-’34, p.234
The ink with which I am writing comes from Tenali. It supports about 12 workers. It is making headway against odds. I had three more specimens sent to me by different makers, all no doubt struggling like the Tenali group. They interested me. I entered into correspondence with them. But I could do no more for them. A Swadeshi organization will examine the samples of these inks in a scientific manner and guide them and encourage the most promising ones. It is a good and growing industry requiring expert chemical knowledge.
H., 14-9-’34, p.241
If we want and believe that the village should not only survive but also become strong and flourishing, then the village perspective is the only correct viewpoint. If this is true then in our exhibitions there can be no place for the glamour and pomp of the cities. There should be no necessity for games and other entertainments that belong to the cities. An exhibition should not become a tamasha; nor a source of income; it should never become the advertising medium for traders. No sales should be allowed there. Even Khadi and village industry products should not be sold. An exhibition should be a medium of education, should be attractive and it should be such as to infuse in the villager the impulse to take to some industry or the other. It should bring out the glaring defects and drawbacks in the present day village life, and show methods to be adopted to set them right. It should also be able to indicate the extent of achievement in that direction ever since the idea of village uplift was sponsored. It should also teach how to make village life artistic.
Now let us see what an exhibition will be like if it is to conform to the above conditions.
Subject to the policy enunciated in the beginning, this list may be further expanded. What I have indicated is by way of example only, it should not be taken to be exhaustive. I have not made any mention of the Gharkha and other village industries as they are taken for granted. Without them the exhibition will be absolutely useless.
Gram Udyog Patrika, July 1946