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What is KVIC? – An epitome of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’

What is KVIC? Well, it refers to Khadi and Village Industries Commission, a statutory body set up in 1957 to empower and employ village and local bodies. After the recent “Aatmanirbhar” plea by our hon. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, every company in the country has started showcasing their Indian roots. Funny enough the companies that don’t really have roots are now racing towards showing their logical roots in the country. What better time than this to be a proud Indian?

So, while it would have been easy to post a few advertisements of different companies on the page pretending that we know what the concept of “Aatmanirbharta” is all about, we instead went step ahead to give you an example of something the community out there isn’t talking about. But in essence is an epitome of what “Atmanirbharta” is. Here we go.

What was Khadi to people before Marketing touched the industry: Khadi was a handspun fabric (usually cotton) made on ambar charkha used by Gandhiji and village made fabric which is inferior in quality as compared to other cloth materials.

Not too appealing?

Here’s what happened after Marketing touched the industry: Khadi became a traditionally woven cloth, indicative of Indian history. It provides you with comfort and hints at a premium look. While also ensuring you pride your Indian roots.

Good huh?

So, how did Khadi break this stereotype of “boring” and become the darling textile of India’s fashion houses?

KVIC and the private companies! They’re the gamechangers! So, before we deep dive into the “How”, let us understand the “What”

What is so different about Khadi?

For a start, khadi can actually refer to any natural fabric (cotton or silk) that has been hand-spun and hand-woven. It is extremely eco-friendly fabric. Why? Well, it requires 3 litres of water as against 56 litres for mill fabric; it leaves zero carbon footprint since its handmade. Isn’t this exactly what appeals to today’s world? Especially the fortunate lots: customized, exclusive premium material.

Here’s how Khadi is made
Humble beginnings:

With an objective of generating employment for the rural lots and making them self-reliant, KVIC was set up by an Act of Parliament in 1957. Like we said, it’s an epitome of “Atmanirbharta”. The setting up of KVIC gave a major morale boost to rural industries, which now, not only promoted khadi but also produced a wide variety of other products. These products ranged from soaps, shampoos, processed foods, leather, hand-made paper, ceramic, spices as well as handloom products.  Back then, while the customers willingly accepted eco-friendly products, they really were unsure about the quality and durability of these products. And hence the expansion efforts were slow.

Reaching the metros of India:

By the year 2000, the industry managed to expand to 7000 outlets called khadi bhandars. These expansions meant no good, since these outlets did not have the expertise to tap into the right set of customers for their products. Right Marketing efforts and a brand name was need of the hour. Realizing this, in a hope to develop the quality, trust, and the right set of audiences for their products, the committee decided to build two brands. With this Sarvodaya and khadi were born.

Now, to take care of the quality, SQC (Sarvodaya quality circle) was formed which was run by the village authorities and overlooked by BIS (Bureau of Indian Standards) representatives in KVIC’s R&D division. This improved trust among their customers. KVIC also tied up with IIT Delhi, to use their students’ technical knowledge for improving rural industries. With this they also redesigned their distribution network and reached out to the retail stores in cities like Mumbai, Delhi, etc. This was a good idea because these metro cities more than anything had recently developed love for eco-friendly and local products.

Good stuff, right?

But there was a problem. Even though, the fabric was comfortable to wear and had sweat absorbent properties, it lacked new designs and hence wasn’t cut out to match the new trends. This made it less appealing to people, and hence, did not really pick the steam back then.

Here’s what changed the game!

The entry of private companies:

The large-scale apparel manufacturers started collaborating with KVIC to use khadi in new collections and product lines. You can say, these private companies realized the potential of this premium material and launched their own product lines. Also, Khadi made a few features in some really well-known fashion shows and Magazines like Forbes, etc. Here’s the notable ones:

  1. ‘Khadi by Peter England’ by Aditya Birla Group for its menswear brand in 2017
  2. ‘Khadi, the Store Re-Spun’ by Raymond
  3. Arvind Ltd developed Khadi denim with KVIC authorization
  4. Sabyasachi Mukherjee featuring Khadi lehengas, since 2002
  5. Featured in Forbes Magazine as premium apparel
  6. Fashion shows like Lakme fashion featuring khadi garments
Sumit Vyas featuring Khadi at Lakme fashion week

The last but most important angle that helped the success of KVIC was government schemes. A scheme called – Prime Minister Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) was launched which helped with finance, infrastructure and banking facilities to rural enterprises. This supported the functioning of KVIC. They have also launched an online portal where they have listed all types of industries registered or are functioning under them.

The result:

You’d be surprised to know, KVIC recorded higher revenues than HUL, a largest consumer goods company in India! KVIC’s sales stood at Rs.75000 crore – which was twice that of HUL’s at 38000 crore in 2019. Didn’t know this, did you?

KVIC has employed more than 21 lakh people in last 5 years. KVIC had been the apex organization of Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises (MSMEs) and has proved to be the breeding ground for a lot of budding start-ups. This is what essentially boasting the ‘Make in India’ movement is. A strong example of Atmanirbhartha!

We hope you like this piece, we could’ve written about the MSME package – but the world is doing that now, and so we picked up a live example you may have not heard of yet.

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