Laurence Sewell reflect on his experience of the International Conference on Globalisation of Khadi- Jaipur. This is the fourth in our series of blogs on the conference. Photo: Erna Janine Kok/Freeweaver Saori Studio

Encompassing the Breadth of the Movement

It was a privilege to be invited as a guest speaker at the event “International Conference on Globalisation of Khadi”. Many influential speakers, delegates from government, private business, the fashion industry, organisations supporting khadi in rural communities attended the conference. It also brought together those with an international perspective around Khadi as an ethical fabric. The conference attained some excellent press coverage of its proceedings and the issues raised. Over two days there was a packed agenda with addresses from notable officials, and speakers at a variety of sessions bringing together the connectivity between the historical heritage of khadi and its value as a fashion concept, organic farming of cotton, and improvements and adaptations to the technologies used in the production of khadi. Particularly inspiring from my point of view, were the presentations made by a range of young and eager designers using khadi in innovative ways in their products. As the first khadi conference of its kind it really did encompass the whole breadth of the khadi movement.

Creating a Supply Chain for the Global Market

I gave two presentations. My first address was on “creating a supply chain for the global market”. This included examining the key issues in each link to achieving a sustainable and scalable supply chain for khadi. This included: addressing environmental sustainability (resilience to climate change and climate justice); certification and traceability – measurement and record-keeping; good governance and preventing abusive practices; empowering women and other disadvantaged groups; and market research with the need for contextual awareness in positioning khadi in different domestic and international markets. In addition, following points were focused in my presentation:
  • The key factors in optimising production,
  • How to build better businesses with an emphasis on people and the planet,
  • Strengthening the customer focus.

Link for the Presentation:

Creating a Sustainable Supply Chain for the Global Market

Creating a Contemporary Story

After that, my second talk was on how to create a contemporary story around khadi which also covered the need for documenting and learning from what we are doing in the khadi movement. The presentation briefly explained why we need to do it and how to do it. The benefits of investing in any stage of the khadi production cycle will only be demonstrated by documenting evidence of positive change. This means communicating and celebrating our successes.

Link for the Presentation

Importance of Learning and Documentation for Learning and Technology Transfer

Lessons for Events in the Future

It is perhaps churlish to mention some aspects of the conference that did not work well. There were clearly opportunities for learning in holding similar events in the future. Time-keeping was problematic for many speakers who did not always strictly adhere to their topic. As a result, the sessions overran and there was less chance for dialogue & questions. The organisers had probably packed too much coverage for just the two days. The closing ceremony was a rushed affair at the end. Naturally many speakers felt more comfortable using Hindi. There was a lack of translation facilities or use of visuals in English. One would have expected that at such an international conference. The conference hall was an excellent venue, well equipped with technological facilities. There were some excellent stalls setting our products. Varied buffet lunch menus were a real treat. In addition to that it was also a good opportunity for networking with participants! Particular thanks go to Kishore Shah and Bhawani Shanker Kusum of Gram Bharti Samiti (GBS) for financial support for attending the conference. Thanks to Abhishek Jain for his ‘behind-the-scenes’ organisation of the conference and his helpful support whilst we were in Jaipur.

About the Author

Laurence Sewell in the Non-Executive Chairman of Khadi London. He has over 45 years’ experience working for the donor community, public organisations and the private sector in Africa, Asia, Near East and Central and Eastern Europe. He has specialised in monitoring, evaluation & learning (MEL); institutional management for reforming organisations; and has a technical background in natural resource planning. He has a particular interest in the role of business in supporting pro-poor development. Laurence is a principal associate of IPE Triple Line Ltd., and a trustee for a number of charity organisations.

Photo Credits:

Erna Janine Kok/Freeweaver Saori Stodio, Jo Salter, Abhishek Jain, Sonal Jain On the Khadi Conference from our Blog Space