UP’s Gandhi Ashram, India’s oldest khadi flag maker, faces hard times | India News

MEERUT: In 1997, Meerut’s Gandhi Ashram, established in 1920 to encourage the use of “swadeshi” products, produced 1,250,000 khadi national flags in preparation for the 50th anniversary of India’s Independence Day. By 2022, as the nation gears up for the platinum holiday, that number has dropped to just 4,000.
Site is 13,210 square meters, visited a few times by Mahatma gandhi, currently employs only 60 workers, compared with more than 600 in the “golden days”. Its office bearers, elected under the rules of the Association Registration Act, sit at a dilapidated retail counter that caters to those who don’t frequent it.
The dilapidated state of the ashram donated by Chaudhry Raghubir Narayan Singh Tyagia wealthy zamindar of Asaura in Hapur district over a hundred years ago, as a result of corruption allegations against its management, mounting debt, constant litigation and stiff competition from the leaves machine-made polyester flag.
“We make the fabric by hand, including processes like dyeing and dyeing. We do not use machines. The government sells flags made of different materials at post offices for around Rs 20. For us, the cost of printing a chakra inside the flag is Rs 15. The smallest size, 1 ft x 1.5 ft, costs Rs 175. Polyester can be produced cheaply. How can we compete? ‘,” said Prithvi Singh Rawatsecretary, Gandhi Ashram.
The ashram still manages to achieve an annual turnover of Rs 3.5 crore but sales of flags are negligible, it is khadi bed sheets, quilts and apparel that bring in the most revenue. There is a small profit from the sale, according to officials, “just enough to pay staff salaries”.
This is vastly different from 1960, when the establishment was the only national flag manufacturer and supplier in the country, the store manager said. Sanjiv Kumar Singh. “It continued to dominate the market until the 1980s,” he added.
Minister Rawat said the public’s passion for khadi had begun to wane. “Government orders have also been scaled back. Even today, the UP government distributes more than 10 crore blankets annually but it is the private companies that take the orders, not us,” Rawat said.
Some office workers are accused of “abetting the land mafia to dispose of prime land in lieu of heavy bribes”. The problem is prejudice. An investigation is being turned on.

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