Mahatma Gandhi was born as Mohandas Karamcha at Porbandar in Gujarat on October 2, 1869. In 1906, when Mohandas was in South Africa, the British declared war against the Zulu kingdom, leading to lot of civil casualties. This prompted him to realise the futility of directly challenging the overwhelming military power of the British army and he decided that it could only be resisted in non-violent fashion through pure heart. In 1915, M.K. Gandhi returned to India permanently. He joined the Indian National Congress and was introduced to Indian issues, politics and the Indian people primarily by Gopal Krishna Gokhale.
Fondly known as Gandhiji among his followers, he had paid four visits to Assam. His first visit took place in the year 1921, second visit in 1926, third in 1934 and the fourth and the last one in the year 1946. The arrival of Mahatma Gandhi helped haul Assam out of its regional cocoon and succeeded in bonding Assam’s cause with the nationalist movement.
In the year 1926 he visited the Congress session at Pandu in Guwahati which set a target of collecting 10,000 yards of khadi with a view to erecting the main pandal of Congress session with khadi only. This target could be achieved as few neighbouring districts of Assam were approached and the families of these districts were assigned the task of producing a specific quantity of khadi. This target was fulfilled and for the first time in the history of Congress, the entire main pandal of the session was erected with khadi only. This motivated the national Congress to see that Pandals in all the future Congress sessions were also created out of khadi only. It became a tradition with Congress.
Gandhiji’s last visit in 1946 was also a visit of historical significance. It was during this tour that Gandhiji inaugurated the Assam branch of Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust and a Gram Sevikas Vidyalaya to be started under this branch. It may be mentioned that this was the only branch in the entire country which was inaugurated by Gandhiji. He had stayed during this visit on a small hillock known as Sarania.
Thanks to Mahatma Gandhi that khadi today has taken a name which is synonymous with purity. After independence the All India Khadi and Village Industries Board was set up in 1950 and it was later merged with the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) by an Act of Parliament in April 1957. KVIC functions under the administrative control of Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), Govt. of India.
In Assam, the Assam Khadi & Village Industries Board Act 1955 which received the assent of the Governor of Assam on July 23, 1955 vide notification in the Assam Gazette dated July 27, 1955 incorporated Schedule of industries namely 1) Khadi 2) Village Oil Industries 3) Soap making with non-edible oil 4) Paddy husking 5) Palm Gur Industry 6) Gur and Khandeshri 7) Leather Industry 8) Wollen Blankets 9) High grade Hand-made paper 10) Bee-Keeping 11) Cottage Match Industry.
The Assam Khadi and Village Industries Board (Amendment), Act 1964 as passed by the Assam Legislative Assembly which received assent of the Governor on January 13, 1964 vide notification in the Assam Gazette, Extraordinary dated January 17, 1964 further added in the Schedule of industries to the principal Act, after item 11 and the following items were namely 12) Carpentry and Blacksmithy Industry 13) Village Pottery Industry 14) Limestone Industry 15) Gas Plant Industry 16) Fibre Industry 17) Bamboo and Cane Crafts Industry.
However, all other industries contained in the illustrated list of industries of the Khadi and Village Industries Commission were made part in the Schedule of industries of the Assam Khadi and Village Industries Board by virtue of an Assam Gazette, Extraordinary notification.
KVIC has an illustrated list of Village Industries in Group-I as Mineral Based Industry, Group-II as Forest Based Industry, Group-III as Agro Based and Food Industry, Group-IV as Polymer and Chemical Based Industry, Group-V as Engineering and Non-Conventional Energy, Group-VI as Textile Industry (Excluding Khadi), Group-VII as Service Industry. It has also a negative list which is not eligible for assistance.
Besides other programmes, KVIC has been implementing Prime Minister’s Employment Generation Programme (PMEGP) and cluster development programme. Ministry of MSME launched the PMEGP scheme on August 15, 2008 for generation of employment opportunities both in rural and urban areas in the country. However, the urban applications for setting up industry are dealt by District Industries and Commerce Centre (DI&CC).
In Assam, among the illustrated list of maximum number of applications received in the financial year 2012-13 are in the category of bamboo and cane work under group-II, fruits and vegetable processing, preservation and canning including pickles under group-III, carpentry, iron grill making under group-V, tailoring and preparation of readymade garments, embroidery under group-VI, hiring of sound system like loud speaker, amplifier, mike etc., cycle repair shops, tea stall under Group-VII. Ceiling limit of project cost under PMEGP is Rs 25 lakh for manufacturing sector, and Rs 10 lakh for business/service sector. Quantum of financial assistance under PMEGP for all categories of beneficiaries of North Eastern region is 25 per cent and 35 per cent subsidy of the project cost for urban and rural respectively.
During the current financial year, the KVIB in Assam received applications, which are within the definition of village industry as provided by the Khadi and Village Industries Commission Act, 1956 that includes brick bhata, computer repairing and servicing, D.T.P./cyber cafe/xerox, photo studio, tent house, automobile repairing and servicing, mineral water, T.V./mobile phone repairing and servicing, phenyl manufacturing, and those industries which are included in the schedule of the Khadi and Village Industries Commission. As defined, Village Industry means in which fixed investment per head of any artisan or a worker does not exceed Rs 1, 00,000/- in plain areas and Rs 1, 50,000/- in hilly areas.
Different types of Khadi – cotton, silk, woolen and mixture of any two or all fibres (polyvastra) play a vital role in providing gainful employment and also play a crucial role in our economy. These units are mostly labour intensive and the abundant labour force available in our country caters to their needs. Besides, these units do not require large capital investment, too. They also have the advantage of absorbing high rate of traditional skill.
KVIC has launched three brand names i.e. Khadi, Sarvodaya and Desi Aahar for making KVI products globally competitive through quality driven brands. Khadi brand is for Khadi products. Sarvodaya brand for village industries products. Desi Aahar for food products. Sarvodaya product range consists of toilet soap, pickles, agarbatti, honey etc. and is aimed at domestic consumer market. Khadi brand exclusive products like essential oil, high fashion designer garments, herbal products etc. were developed to cater to the high end market as well as export.
In order to meet the challenge of fuel requirement, implementation of non-conventional energy programme, identification of potential beneficiaries, setting up of biogas plants under the technical guidance of rural energy technicians are taken up extensively. There is provision of Central Government subsidy in order to encourage and support village entrepreneurs.
One of the major achievement of KVIC is development of one, two and eight-spindle NMC E-Charkha in collaboration with flexitron organization, Bangalore where the spinner while plying the charkha rotates an armature/ dynamo which in turn charges a battery. It allows the spinner to light her dwelling place, listen to transistor and re-charge cell phone and even work at night.
The Assam Khadi and Village Industries Board received the National Award (Best KVI Board in North Eastern Zone) for outstanding performance in implementing MSME scheme for the financial year 2011-12 from the Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises. The achievement under PMEGP in 2011-12 under Assam Khadi and Village Industries Board is generation of 12384 employee which is 88.20 per cent of the target.
The nodal officer of the PMEGP Cell of Assam Khadi and Village Industries Board credits this achievement to the untiring effort of the incumbent State Director, KVIC at Rupnagar in Guwahati who held discussions with the Regional Managers of various banks, Reserve Bank of India officials and workshops for timely implementation of the programme, and last but not the least the office staff in the PMEGP Cell.
The nodal officer of the PMEGP Cell of Assam Khadi and Village Industries Board appeals to the youth to contact the cell at the Headquarter premises at Chandmari in Guwahati for information and necessary training. The PMEGP Cell conducts field training session in partnership with Non Government Organization (NGO), college, subject to mobility of training tools and provide certificate at the end of training session. Assam Khadi and Village Industries Board have a Multi Disciplinary Training Centre (MDTC) at Raha in Nagaon providing hostel accommodation and stipend during the training period. Other training centres include Gopal Than in Nalbari on Hand-made paper, Dharamtul in Marigaon on Pottery, Headquarter premises at Chandmari on Leather and Dyeing and Printing.
I would like to make a personal appeal to the guardians to teach their wards at home and the teacher when she reads the next holiday notice of ‘Gandhi Jayanti’ to speak about Khadi products with the wider objective of creating self-reliance amongst the people and building up of a strong rural community spirit.