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Khadi looks for image makeover to boost sales

- After tasting success with men’s wear, board plans new range of ladies’ clothes, forest products

Branding is the mantra, and even a Gandhian relic needs proper packaging and promotion to sustain itself in today’s market.

Jharkhand State Khadi and Village Industries Board is, therefore, emphasising on attractive packaging for marketing desi products to a larger segment of customers, while exploring new opportunities in and outside the country.

Enthused over the success of Johar brand shirts, ties and jackets during the recently concluded international trade fair in Delhi, the organisation is now planning readymade ladies’ clothes and items made of forest produces, like honey, lac et al.

“Our automated readymade garment manufacturing units in Jamshedpur and Deoghar are working efficiently. We are confident of increasing volumes in the coming days with a lot of entrepreneurs and wholesalers from different states and even foreign countries showing interests in our products,” board chairman Jainandu told The Telegraph.

Moreover, the khadi board is planning to tie up with commercial banks and financial institutions for extending insurance facilities and pension benefits to those working with the organisation across the state.

Banks are also keen to tab this sizeable workforce with some tailor-made schemes that suit weavers’ requirements.

Canara Bank has offered to provide Rs 1 lakh health insurance policy free of cost against a new bank account. The State Bank of India, on the other hand, is offering Rs 1 lakh health insurance cover for poor khadi artisans against a nominal fee of Rs 100.

“We have already brought over 5,000 weavers and artisans under the umbrella of Swavalamban and Janashree schemes. We provide 90 per cent finance for purchasing equipment for producing khadi products. But, these people do not even have the minimal capital (10 per cent) to avail the benefits. So, now we have decided to pay even the remaining 10 per cent from our coffers,” Jainandu added.

The organisation made a humble beginning with five production and distribution centres in Jharkhand on December 17, 2004. Initially, the response was quite discouraging.

But, over the years, business expanded and the khadi board managed to turn those five shops into air-conditioned showrooms and opened an emporium in Delhi.

Currently, it also runs eight training centres, mostly in Naxalite-affected areas of the state. These apart, two khadi parks have become functional in Jamshedpur and Deoghar.

“We try to engage women based in Naxalite-hit areas. We offer training programmes with duration ranging from 15 days to six months. Since unemployment is the root cause of Naxalism, we are also fighting Naxalism in the Gandhian way,” said Jainandu, who is also khadi board chief of the eastern zone, comprising Bihar, Odisha and Bengal — all affected by the Left-wing extremism.