March 13, 2021 4:03:50 am
On the sidelines of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit launching the celebration of 75 years of Independence – Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav — by flagging off a symbolic 386-km “Dandi March” from Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad to Dandi in Navsari on Friday, was also the announcement of the Heritage Incubation initiative, which is aimed at being a partnership between Ministry of Culture and the Sabarmati Ashram Preservation and Memorial Trust (SAPMT).
The initiative will look at incubating 10 projects which will look at the revival of ‘swadeshi’ (indigenous) and ‘aatmanirbhar’ (self-reliance) products as a viable product. The products in focus will be such which has seen erasure over time owing to loss of technique and knowledge.
SAPMT trustee Kartikeya Sarabhai explains, “There are several natural products which for centuries were connected with a culture that knew how to use it, how to take care of it, how to grow it… When the British came, there were several such products that they did not understand or their machines could not handle. For example, in cotton, they found Indian cotton was short stapled while their machines were designed for long-staple cotton….as a result, short-staple cotton, slowly started disappearing…There are several such (indigenous) products which were suppressed through the colonial period and are coming out only now.”
An example at work, says Sarabhai, is the ‘kaala cotton’ which has been revived owing to a partnership between Kachchh Heritage, Art, Music, Information and Resources. (Khamir) (a joint initiative of Kachchh Nav Nirman Abhiyan and the Nehru Foundation for Development) with Satvik, an association of organic farmers in Kachchh, “to explore the production possibilities for Kala Cotton,” as is stated on their website.
Sarabhai adds that owing to the revival, Australia has found now that kaala cotton makes for better material fo making towels.
While the initiative, brought forth by the Ministry of Culture, is at a conceptual stage at present, a working plan is expected to be drawn up within “the next couple of weeks.”
Paying tribute to Mahatma Gandhi’s idea of ‘aatmanirbharta’, Modi also announced that a charkha will be installed at the Sabarmati Ashram that will rotate a full circle each time someone tweets with ‘#VocalForLocal’.
An SAPMT official said that while it was initially planned to be housed at Magan Niwas, another site has now been chosen within the Ashram owing to its size. Measuring 9.3 feet in height, 16 feet in length and four feet in width, the spinning wheel will be an internet-connected device powered by electricity. “We have been told that the charkha will remain in the Ashram until the completion of the march (April 5). From what we have understood from the meetings with the Ministry of Culture, the aim is to have 75 lakh tweets at least with the hashtag,” added the SAPMT official.
The Prime Minister, who was at the Sabarmati Ashram for about five-odd minutes on Friday, was gifted a framed excerpt of a speech of Gandhi that he had delivered on October 2, 1919 at Bhagini Samaj at then Bombay and a book titled ‘Gandhiji in Ahmedabad’. The speech excerpt sees Gandhi appeal that “India must learn to be self-reliant.”
Following the visit to the Sabarmati Ashram, the Prime Minister was taken on a guided tour by historian Rizwan Kadri, through an exhibition of pencil sketches of Gandhi and several others who had joined in on the 1930 Dandi March, drawn by Chhaganlal Jadhav. Kadri had salvaged the sketchbook from an Ahmedabad Sunday flea market.
Kadri said that the sketches have been exhibited in Ahmedabad for the first time.
Kadri had featured Jadhav’s sketches initially in the coffee book table ‘Unseen Drawings of Dandi March’ following which the original drawings were framed and preserved and exhibited at National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA). The NGMA exhibits were brought to Ahmedabad specifically for the commemoative event on Friday.
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