Swadeshi movement

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Poster of Gandhi sitting at a spinning wheel
Popular 1930s poster depicting Gandhi spinning a charkha, captioned "Concentrate on Charkha and Swadeshi"

The Swadeshi movement was part of the Indian independence movement and contributed to the development of Indian nationalism.[1] After Partition of Bengal Swadeshi movement was formally started from Town Hall Calcutta on 7 August 1905 to curb foreign goods by relying on domestic production.[2] Swadeshi was a focus of Mahatma Gandhi, who described it as the soul of swaraj (self-rule). The movement took its vast size and shape after rich Indians donated money and land dedicated to Khadi & Gramodyog societies which started cloth production in every household. It also included other village industries so as to make village self sufficient and self reliant.[3] Indian National Congress used this movement as arsenal for freedom struggle and ultimately on 15 August 1947, a hand spun Khadi 'tricolor ashok chakra' Indian flag was unfurled at 'Princess Park' near India Gate, New Delhi by Pandit Nehru.[4]

The government's decision to partition Bengal was made in December 1903. The official reason was that Bengal, with a population of 78 million, was too large to be administered; the real reason, however, was that it was the center of the revolt and company officials could not control the protests which they thought would spread throughout India. Bengal was divided by language and religion: the western half would be primarily Hindu, and the eastern half would be primarily Muslim. This divide-and-conquer strategy sparked the Swadeshi movement. British reunited Bengal in 1911 and shifted their capital to New Delhi. Swadeshi movement took new definition after reunification event.[5]


Swadeshi is a conjunction (sandhi) of two Sanskrit words: swa ("self" or "own") and desh ("country"). Swadeshi is an adjective which means "of one's own country".[6]


Swadeshi Movement has been characterized as cloth production in India. It originated from Bengal because the sentiments due to closed down domestic cloth industry was very high. In 1757 East India Company exported muslin cloth to Europe but by 1857 they had conspired and crushed local cloth industry by cutting the thumbs of spinners who used to spin fine muslin cloth (exceeding 200 counts) in order to make way for English cloth which was not as fine as Indian hand spun cloth.[7]


According to a 1999 article, E. F. Schumacher (author of Small Is Beautiful) was influenced by Gandhi's concept of Swadeshi.[14] On 7 August 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi commemorated the first annual National Handloom Day in India to promote indigenous handloom and khadi products. The date was chosen because on 7 August 1905, the Swadeshi movement was proclaimed to avoid foreign goods and use only Indian-made products.[15] Shripad Naik, minister of state for the Ministry of AYUSH, promoted Swadeshi Shopping (a marketplace for small and medium-sized enterprises) in 2017 as part of the government's Make in India initiative. [16]


  • In the movie Gandhi (film) (1982) by Richard Attenborough, Gandhi gives a speech outside a Fort and immediately thereafter spectators take a vow on the bonfire of English cloths to wear Khadi.
  • In the movie Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi (film) (2019) by Kangana Ranaut on the Queen, who fought valiantly with English in 1857, vivaciously created khadi ( hand spun fabrics ) in cotton, brocade and paithani were crafted to mark the spirit of swadeshi with freedom struggle.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ L. M. Bhole, Essays on Gandhian Socio-Economics, Shipra Publications, Delhi, 2000. Chapter 14: "Savadesi: Meaning and Contemporary Relevance".
  2. ^ "Swadeshi Movement: Timeline and Important facts that you must know". India Today. Retrieved 7 August 2015.
  3. ^ "Jamnalal Bajaj, the Gandhian capitalist who was called the Mahatma's 'Merchant Prince'". The Print. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  4. ^ "No, Nehru didn't hoist India's first tricolour at Red Fort. And British flag wasn't lowered". The Print. Retrieved 14 July 2019.
  5. ^ a b c "History of Swadeshi Movement : Causes & Effects". Cultural India. 2018-07-19. Retrieved 2020-09-20.
  6. ^ "Swadeshi". Metta Center. 2009-05-03. Retrieved 2020-10-01.
  7. ^ "Notes" by M.K. Gandhi (in "Young India" magazine, 30 Mar 1921) http://www.pastpresented.ukart.com/mahuadabar-thumbs.htm
  8. ^ Anjan, Tara; Rattan, Saldi (2016). Satguru Ram Singh and the Kuka Movement. New Delhi: Publications Division Ministry of Information & Broadcasting. ISBN 9788123022581.
  9. ^ McLeod, W. H.; French, Louis (2014). Historical Dictionary of Sikhism. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 261. ISBN 9781442236011.
  10. ^ Kaur, Manmohan (1985). Women in India's freedom struggle. Sterling. p. 76.
  11. ^ Clarke, Peter (2004). Encyclopedia of New Religious Movements. Oxon: Routledge. p. 425. ISBN 9781134499700.
  12. ^ Gandhiji's Days in Mumbai https://www.robinage.com/history/gandhiji-in-mumbai.htm
  13. ^ "History of Khadi – A Symbol of Indian Freedom Struggle". Khadivastram. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
  14. ^ Weber, Thomas (May 1999). "Gandhi, Deep Ecology, Peace Research and Buddhist Economics". Journal of Peace Research. 36 (3): 349–361. doi:10.1177/0022343399036003007.
  15. ^ "Explained: Why is August 7 called National Handloom Day". The Indian Express. 7 August 2020.
  16. ^ "Ministry of AYUSH letter". Retrieved 15 November 2020.
  17. ^ "Kangana Ranaut to promote Khadi fabric through Manikarnika". Cinestaan. Retrieved 2 Jan 2019.

Further reading[edit]

  • Bandyopadhyay, Sekhar. From Plassey to Partition - A History of Modern India (2004) pp 248–62
  • Das, M. N. India Under Morley and Minto: Politics Behind Revolution, Revolution, and Reform (1964)
  • Gonsalves, Peter. Clothing for Liberation, A Communication Analysis of Gandhi's Swadeshi Revolution, SAGE, (2010)
  • Gonsalves, Peter. Khadi: Gandhi's Mega Symbol of Subversion, SAGE, (2012)
  • Trivedi, Lisa. "Clothing Gandhi's Nation: Homespun and Modern India", Indiana University Press, (2007)
  • Trivedi, Lisa N. (February 2003). "Visually Mapping the 'Nation': Swadeshi Politics in Nationalist India, 1920-1930". The Journal of Asian Studies. Association for Asian Studies. 62 (1): 11–41. doi:10.2307/3096134. JSTOR 3096134.