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How a small Karnataka village took Mahatma Gandhi by surprise with its Khadi movement: Story of Badanavalu

In 1932, Mahatma Gandhi visited Badanavalu and the Khadi centre operating on 7.5 acres. He appreciated the message the centre sent to the society.

rahul gandhi khadiRahul Gandhi with veteran Congress leader Siddaramaiah at the Khadi centre in Badanavalu on the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti. (Express)

On the occasion of the 153rd Mahatma Gandhi Jayanti Sunday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi paid tributes to the Father of the Nation at Badanavalu village in Karnataka and vowed to unify India. What is the historical significance of this small village, located around 33 km away from Mysore, which had pleasantly surprised even Mahatma Gandhi?

Badanavalu houses a spinning centre popularly known as Badanavalu Khadi Kendra. Mysuru king Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar established it in 1927 as part of the Swadeshi movement. It began operations with four Dalit women and an aim to uplift the economic conditions of Dalits.

According to Professor Nirmal Raj of Mangalore University, the centre, which at one point had 60 women and nine male weavers and an investment of Rs 3,500, was making Khadi worth Rs 50,000 by 1932. This meteoric rise of the Swadeshi establishment impressed Mahatma Gandhi.

In 1932, Mahatma Gandhi visited Badanavalu and the Khadi centre operating on 7.5 acres. Historians say that he came to Badanavalu after his follower Tagadur Ramachandra Rao insisted him to and he appreciated the message the centre sent to the society. To commemorate Mahatma Gandhi’s visit, the centre later installed his statue on the campus.

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Even now, the centre produces Khadi by spinning wheels but it has lost its sheen. Though the Khadi demand over the years has gone up, the spinning industry is not in a state to afford wages for so many employees.

Recently, the Karnataka tourism department expressed its interest to develop Badanavalu on the lines of Gujarat’s Sabarmati Ashram.

In 2015, a movement to promote and revive the Khadi sector gained momentum as personalities like social activist Medha Patkar and Bollywood actor Irrfan Khan visited Badanavalu and extended their support.

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In 1993, Badanavalu witnessed caste violence where three lower-caste farmers were killed by a group of upper-caste people leading to several protests and the death of two in police firing.

First published on: 02-10-2022 at 04:38:59 pm
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