Happy “Independence” Day ?

Surely, this is a glorious day. The 15th of August, marks the sixty ninth year of India as an Independent nation. Independent of the British Raj. For that we must remember and respect those who fought for our freedom and honour them and their efforts.

Now here is a slight hiccup, surely as a nation we are Independent of our former colonists, the British Empire. But are we in a state of freedom? This is something that can be argued and would definitely be a matter of one’s own opinion. For me, since this is my blog post so my opinion could be put forth, the following are basic requirements for a state of freedom:

The ability to practice any religion freely without anyone judging me based on my last name. The ability to visit a Porn site if I so choose. The ability to purchase beef, pork or Alcohol from a restaurant if I so choose. The ability to communicate freely with others, with the knowledge that no body is listening to my conversation. The privilege to personal privacy. The ability to have consensual sex with whom so ever I please, even if it is in a hotel on an island in Mumbai. The ability to live in a country that understands the meaning of the word Secular, that resides in the preamble of our constitution.

But, seriously fuck all that idealistic freedom talk, because that could be argued to the ends of the earth and besides you could easily start calling me names.

Today I want to address another set of parallels I found quite interesting, so lets…

One of the most iconic struggles in our Independence movement was the Swadeshi Movement. Remember that?

The Swadeshi movement was a socio-economic strategy employed first by the Bengalis in response to the British Partition of Bengal of 1905. The whole gist of it is that the British at the time were using Indian textile raw materials that they would use to produce finished goods and then sell the same back in Bengal and the rest of their empire.
At the time Bengal was their largest textile market.

The Swadeshi Movement took place because the British were:
1. Using Indian Raw Materials
2. Using Cheap Indian Labour
3. Selling it back to the Indians for a mark up
4. Solely benefiting from the market growth

This tendency of the British, to use our agricultural resources and labour to produce products that were sold back to us, was not restricted to just the textile industry. Sugar, Salt and Cigarettes to name a few more.

The Swadeshi movement had such an immense effect on the Economic might of the British Raj that the same principle was employed time and again all the way to the day of our Independence.

In fact the Swadeshi movement was so immense that it remains the single most affective Soci-Economic movement of our entire Independence struggle.
In fact the Swadeshi Movement was so important that the original draft for the Indian flag had it’s central element dedicated to this movement.

In fact the movement was so vital and popular that Google used a reference to it for the Doodle commemorating the 69th Indian Independence day.

Here is the parallel I found interesting; Fast Fashion. 

First lets quickly learn what is Fast Fashion.
Fast fashion as a term is used by retailers to convey the message that their shelves are a direct reflection of maybe the latest trends from Lakme Fashion Week.

What does that mean?
Fashion brands like Forever 21, H&M, Gap, Zara, New Look, etc in order to capture massive market shares have drastically over the last two decades reduced their selling price. They also market a lot more change in the Fashion Trends leading to four fashion trend changes in a single year. If the price is cheap and trends constantly changing there shall be a lot more people purchasing the product. Nothing brings in more revenue than a large and constant market share.

How is this done?
Outsource Outsource and outsource.
Actually wait a second,
Inhumanely outsource, inhumanely outsource and inhumanely outsource.
Get the product made on the other side of the world, where cost of manufacturing, labour, resources are all cheap as shit.
Ship the same product to every store across the globe, change marketing and fashion trends. Get new stock produced.

We have all heard of the Rana Plaza Disaster in 2013 leading to the loss of over 1,100 lives in Bangladesh. Why did that happen?
Answer: Fast Fashion

I can go on in my usual style, listing dates of other disasters over the last two decades, but today is our Independence day so lets talk about us.

Orathupalayam village, Tirupur city, Tamil Nadu is one good example. Here companies like Wal-Mart, Gap, Tommy Hilfiger produce their products. This once lush green South Indian village provided for by the Noyyal River has now entirely mutated.

Noyyal River Today.

Now the landscape is parched, dotted only with scrub forest. Nothing grows there, the agricultural and fish industry almost entirely devastated. The Noyyal river now runs foamy, green and red polluted with all the sludge dumped by the Textile factories.

At first glance Tirupur city, seems to symbolize the benefits of Globalization and free market economy, but quickly that façade slips away and you see the dire state of the local people. The low wages, destruction of land and destruction of personal health.

I want to stop here. For I really could just go on and on. But it’s our Independence day and we should be celebrating it. So in conclusion I want to leave you with this…

The fast fashion and fashion industry today in India is:
1. Using Indian Raw Materials
2. Using Cheap Indian Labour
3. Selling it back to the Indians for a mark up
4. Solely benefiting from the market growth


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