2nd October : Sustainabilty | Self Reliance | Slow Fashion

Today as we remember two great souls of our nation ; Mahatma Gandhi (http://www.mkgandhi.org/articles/gideatocombatglobali.htm) and Lal Bahadur Shastri (http://pmindia.gov.in/en/former_pm/shri-lal-bahadur-shastri/); we can still feel the resonance of the ideologies, they gave years back. Be it Swadeshi, Self Reliance through Harit Kranti, Khadi “a task in which charkha will have the crucial role of spinning the yarn, which will be used further by the handloom weavers to produce entirely hand-made cloth, called khadi or khaddar (hard-spun, hand-woven cloth).” or for that matter progressive sustainable futures.

When an Indian mill-owner heard of Gandhi’s efforts, he called upon him to convince him that the best way of reducing dependence on imports was to establish more Indian mills.
“I am not doing exactly that,” Gandhi replied “but I am engaged in the revival of the spinning wheel.”
“What is that?”—the mill-owner asked, feeling still more at sea.
After explaining his work to him, Gandhi concluded: “I swear by this form of Swadeshi, because through it I can provide work to the semi-starved semi-employed women of India. My idea is to get these women to spin yarn, and to clothe the people of India with khadi woven out of it.” (http://www.mkgandhi.org/articles/gideatocombatglobali.htm)

The term Slow Fashion which has created a stir in the fashion industry ; was unknowingly the  Indian lifestyle in pre independence era.

Today we cant stop ourselves from writing about Nani (Grandmother) , the  inspiration , the strength and the lifeline of Blue Madder. She has been the axis of a large family ( read 150 members). The family which was totally dependent on the land , the rains and the labour they put in, to feed the mouths. In the fields, women folk   participated equally  as their counterparts and at home they took the total charge. Needless to say , they were the arduous lot and Nani being the eldest the leader.

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Nani while during her daily spinning ritual, with her 60 years old ‘Charkha’.

Women also took great care of the resources available around them, be it water, flora or fauna. They were true followers of Shatriji’s  ideology of self reliance. Ghandiji always believed that we as a nation should not be dependent on anybody for our needs and so did Nani. She was the metaphor in creating an eco system where dependency on outer factors was negligible. Right from food to footwear and clothes to  thatched roofs everything was done by hands. The model was designed in a way to generate livelihoods at maximum touch points. The community worked in total harmony where everybody’s role was defined.

Another major Gandhian attribute that they religiously followed was spinning. Inseparable part of their  daily chores.In other terms they were practicing sustainable slow fashion way back. They used hand spun and hand woven fabric which was then hand stitched to make garments.There slow fashion was a unified representation of sustainable, eco, green and ethical fashion. This eco system of spinning and weaving  was the spine of sustainable economy and inter dependency rather than intra dependency.

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Sharing her learning with younger generation.
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Hand woven blankets made out of ‘Nani’ hand-spun wool.
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‘Nani’ gave her colourful personal touch to this beautiful hand woven woolen skirt made with her hand spun wool, she is creating master pieces for her grand children, while making sustainable slow fashion garments.

Now years later , when we turn back and see, this eco system is no where to be found. A void can be sensed when for every single task we are  dangerously dependent on outer forces.This void is the driving force of Blue Madder.

Blue Madder is  re- building the same sustainable and self reliant eco system in western Rajasthan.

Independence Through Collective Dreams

“Khadi is livery of freedom”, we achieved this independance by walking on the trail of Bapu (Mahatma Gandhi). He gave the momentum to the freedom fight by introducing Khadi and Swdeshi movement. The idea behind was to become self sufficient and not rely on any foreign country for imports. For him, being self sustaining was a synonym to freedom.

Real freedom comes when  all in the society grow collectively. With rich growing richer and poor growing poorer, freedom looses all its essence.  Blue Madder, believe in  this collective growth which starts from  rural India. The pursuits of making each individual, each household financially independent, will give them the wings of freedom. Freedom to choose better ways of living and dignified livelihoods.

Charkha is the symbol of the nation’s prosperity and therefore freedom. It bears a message of goodwill and self-help. By re –introducing the culture of hand spinning, we try to compliment the agro income. This financial independence, specially for the women, strengthens the rural fabric.

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Wool Hand Spinning at Rukma’s house.

The story of Rukma Devi from Birlokha is an inspiration for many of her spinning collegues.

Rukma devi, belonged to the Meghwal (weaver) community. Her husband was the village weaver . As they did not own a decent piece of land, family was totally dependent on the income generated from weaving. From past few years, the shrinking demands led to low income. The sudden death of the bread winner added to the families woes. Rukma Devi was left at the mercy of the extended family.

When Blue Madder first went to the village, she was apprehensive about the idea of spinning. She was aware of the decreasing demands . She raised a direct question that how long will Blue Madder will be able to sustain this model of spinning and weaving in the village. The team convinced her by introducing the new markets and the products, showing her the visuals and similar set ups.

Still low on confidence , she enrolled herself and started spinning. Now after one and a half year of spinning, she has taken up the family responsibilities. Her latest achievement is a toilet being made for the family.

This is what Blue Madder calls , Independence.

Today , even after 68 years , Gandhi is still so relevant.

Blue Madder is religiously determined, to create an eco system where everyone spin yarn in their own homes  as they cook  their own food. Its voluntary revival with all its implications must mean India’s freedom.

The greatest gifts we can give our children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.

‘I feel convinced that the revival of hand-spinning and hand weaving will make the largest contribution to the economic and the moral regeneration of India. The millions must have a simple industry to supplement agriculture. Spinning was the cottage industry years ago, and if the millions are to be saved from starvation, they must be enabled to reintroduce spinning in their homes and every village must repossess its own weaver’.- By Mahatma Gandhi

Happy Independence Day, 15th August’2015.