New avatar of the Charkha


The ideologies of the Father of the nation have always proved to be revolutionary. His freedom tools, Satyagrah and Charkha among others, have evolved to suit modern needs. The only difference being the positive change in the latter as compared to the twisted evolution of the former.

Charkha is still used in rural India for making cloth. However, the weavers have a tough time with it, as it is very laborious to spend 6-7 hours continuously in weaving to produce a significant amount of yarn. Also, the quality of yarn produced by manual weaving is low. This is because it is difficult to weave at a uniform speed to produce fine quality of yarn.

As a result, manual weaving is less attractive and therefore, leads to less employment generation. But thanks to the efforts of the hard working and talented people at Khadi and Village Industries Commission and Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Rural Industrialization (MGIRI), Wardha, Gandhi’s Charkha has adopted itself to an environment-friendly machine which works on solar power without taking away jobs of the poor.

The Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) in collaboration with Gandhi Gramodyog Urja Vikas Sanstha, Amravati has developed a Solar Power operated mechanism to run the charkhas.  This model of Charkha is a suitable replacement of the electrical and manual charkha. According to the organization, it is estimated that this kit can support 3-5 charkhas.

Each spindle can produce about 125 gram of yarn. It uses about 36W of energy to support 6-7 spindles. The cost of the kit is expected to be around Rs. 28000-30000 without any subsidy. The kit provides a very high quality of yarn as it maintains a constant speed of rotation during weaving. It also increases the productivity of cloth by supporting multiple charkhas. The weaver’s income is expected to be about Rs. 80-100 in comparison to Rs 40 he gains using manual weaving.

The main attracting feature, however, is significant reduction in hardship faced by the spinners. They, only, have to look after the maintenance of charkha and supervision of broken yarn. Also, the other significant factor is that it uses solar energy which is a renewable source of energy, and abundant in India. It is because of this, the khadi made from this kit is termed as “Green-Khadi”.

 For testing the project, KVIC in collaboration with Mahatma Gandhi Institute for Rural Industrialization (MGIRI), Wardha has conducted field trials of solar powered eight spindle charkhas at clusters level at Raibareli, Rajkot, Murshidabad, Karaikudi, Bassi and Dimapur.

This project, if implemented, can bring a significant change in the lives of the rural sector. Easy handling of the charkhas will attract more people for work and thus, generate employment opportunities. It can also be used by the disabled people thus, creating employment opportunities among physically handicapped people also. In another aspect, the solar harnessing device which is used to run the charkhas can also be used to run other devices for purposes like lighting, fan, etc.

Thus, with the help of government providing certain subsidy, the cost of production will also decrease and hence, will be a boon to the rural society.

We wish good luck to the scientists at MGIRI and hope to see many more such developments.

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