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Nothing old hat about the Gandhi cap

Shankar Bennur
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A khadi outlet on Dhanwantri Road has procured fresh stocks of Gandhi caps that are in high demand in Mysore. — PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM
A khadi outlet on Dhanwantri Road has procured fresh stocks of Gandhi caps that are in high demand in Mysore. — PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM

Social activist Anna Hazare's anti-corruption movement has increased the demand for Gandhi caps in Mysore.

Influenced by the 74-year-old's campaign demanding that the Jan Lokpal Bill be passed, his supporters, especially the youth, have started wearing Gandhi caps at protests in his support and to make a statement.

“As Anna wears a Gandhi cap, we, as his true supporters, are wearing them too,” protestors here said.

At a high

The sale of these distinct caps usually peaks around Independence Day and Republic Day, but as support for Mr. Hazare swells, so has the demand for the khadi caps.

“In the last three days, I have sold 500 Gandhi caps. The khadi spinning and weaving unit at Badanaval in Nanjangud taluk has been asked to increase its production of cloth to meet the demand,” said Prabhuswamy, manager at the Khadi and Gramodyoga Sahakari Sangha here. The caps, sold at Rs. 40 each, are made of handspun and hand-woven khadi produced at Badanaval, which Mahatma Gandhi visited eight decades ago.

According to Mr. Prabhuswamy, this was the first time in many years that they had sold over 100 caps a day, a huge jump over the 20 or 30 caps sold during Independence Day and Republic Day.

The outlet has received fresh stock of caps stitched to cater to the demand.

They had employed a tailor exclusively to stitch the caps, he said. “We are taking bulk orders.” Jagadish, manager at Tirupur Khadi Stores, too said his 80-year-old store was selling 50 to 100 caps a day, at Rs. 30 each.

“People, mainly the youth, are coming to our store asking for caps.”

A symbol

Naveen, a young Anna supporter, says: “With the Gandhi cap on my head, I am identified as Anna's supporter. The cap has given an identity to those supporting him. It is a symbol of nationalism and the ongoing movement is to free the country from corruption.”

Some enterprising protesters are sporting the caps with messages such as “I am with Anna”, “I support Anna” or “Say no to corruption” printed on them.

Flags in demand too

The sale of national flags too has seen a sharp rise since Mr. Hazare's protest took off, the khadi store owners say.

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