New Delhi, Aug 9: Khadi, which has seen a rise in its sales since Prime Minister Narendra Modi's appeal for its greater use last year, would now have Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan as its brand ambassador.
Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) Chief Executive Officer Arun Kumar Jha told IANS in an interview here that Bachchan had given his consent to be brand ambassador of Khadi "pro bono" or without fee.
"He gave the consent last month. It is a big thing for us," Jha told IANS.
He said prime minister's call in his "Man ki Baat" radio programme in October last year for greater use of Khadi has boosted its sales.
"After PM's call, we prepared ourselves in a way that we have more consumer friendly and new designer products in the market. The sales at the main outlet in central Delhi have up gone up by 60 percent," he said.
KVIC launched a new range of khadi denim products from jeans to T-shirts and jackets in June to popularise Khadi among youth.
Jha said they were now planning to launch a full trouser series.
"Also, we intend to launch undergarments for men and expand our ready-to-wear options for women and children," he said.
Khadi stands for hand spun and hand woven cloth and contains only natural fibers - cotton, wool and silk.
Jha said Khadi was environment-friendly and skin-friendly and Khadi cloth were lighter to that made in a mill.
He said apart from expanding the range of Khadi products, they will increase outlets through franchisee model and launch an e-commerce portal.
"I feel we will be able to launch franchisee model and e-commerce from Oct 2 (Gandhi Jayanti)," Jha told IANS
KVIC, a statutory body under the Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, plans and implements programmes for the development of Khadi and other village industries in the rural areas.
Jha said they intend to take sale of khadi from Rs 1140 crore in 2014-15 to at least 1600 crore in 2015-16.
He said there was demand for opening outlets abroad and they were moving in the direction.
"Khadi is pride of India - The Indian national flag is produced from Khadi only," he said.
There are about 7,000 government-recognised Khadi outlets in the country. Jha said the the aim is to take the number to 20,000 by 2017 through franchise agreements.
He said that giving boost to khadi was part of efforts by the government towards rural transformation.
"Agriculture can generally have a growth rate of four-five percent. For high growth in rural areas, small industry and khadi are the tools," he said.
KVIC is among the organisations identified by the government to generate sustainable rural non-farm employment opportunities at a low per capita investment.
Modi, in his `Mann Ki Baat' programme had called upon people to use at least one Khadi product. He had said that buying khadi product helps in binding with the poor.
Modi had again referred to his appeal to use Khadi products during a function in Chennai on Friday to mark the National Handloom Day. He had said a similar call should be given for handloom products.