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Clothing Gandhi's Nation: Homespun and Modern India

Indiana University Press

By Lisa Trivedi
Posted June 1, 2007
Tags Faculty Books
"Gandhi argued that India’s self-rule (swaraj) could only be achieved if it became self-sufficient and he urged people to take up spinning and wear only home-spun clothing. Khadi came to be used across British India as a symbol in public processions and demonstrations. Trivedi provides the first institutional history of the organizations that oversaw the development, production and sale of khadi. She describes the swadeshi movement’s various techniques for popularizing textile production – posters, traveling exhibitions and tours – a in their attempt to bridge differences of language, literacy region and religion. She goes on to examine the place of khadi in the life of the nation after independence. Welters wore it to identify with the less fortunate, but always with some ambivalence about giving up the markers of their own status. The new national calendar was punctuated by holidays with flag-hoisting ceremonies surrounding the khadi charka, or spinning-wheel flag, In India today the use of the flag is still debated, while khadi clothing has experienced a revival among the fashion-conscious. Written in a clear and narrative style, Clothing Gandhi’s Nation provides a cultural history of how this everyday object came to represent independent India."

Reviews

"[A] significant contribution to the modern history of India and, by extension, to comparative imperialism and world history." — Sandria B. Freitag, University of North Carolina

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