By Manoj Gupta
Rs 100,000 Cr is the estimated overall cost of the Digital India programme.
While ‘e' has assumed a lot of significance in this computer and Internet age, e-mail, e-ticketing, e-booking, e-filing of return and the words like that have already become a passé. Nevertheless India's Khadi & Village Industries Commission (KVIC) has decided to add ‘e' to ‘Gandhigiri' in the country by launching ‘e-charkha' soon.
The e-charkha developed by RS Hiremath not only produces yarn but also generates electricity using a maintenance free lead acid battery fixed at the bottom, which functions as an inverter.
The charkha that generate 6-9 Watts of power can, however, help the weavers as they can generate sufficient power to provide back-up for about six to seven hours of basic lighting LED lighting by spinning the wheel for about two hours. Not to forget that it can also help them play radio.
The LED light and the generator (three-phase version) of the e-charkha are of the latest design and both have an extremely long life of at least 35 years.
All components have been chosen after a worldwide search so that the end user has a reliable, foolproof, weather-proof and rugged product, which can be enjoyed for many years.
With an initial price tag of Rs 3,000, it could be a good option for rural people to achieve back-up power, play radio as well as generate employment and according to KVIC, it plans to induct two lakh pieces of e-charkha at Khadi weaving centres across the country.
However, according to Hiremath, e-charkha is just one of the socially relevant products and he has many more such innovations in his sleeve that are being used by poor rural population.
Gandhiji, charkha and khadi
As we know that spinning of the thread on charkha precedes the weaving of khadi. The charkha became a weapon towards achieving independence during non-cooperation movement.
Mahatma Gandhi had said, "In my dream, in my sleep, while eating, I think of spinning wheel. The spinning wheel is my sword. To me it is the symbol of India's liberty."
The great saint-visionary had also said that he would make the spinning-wheel the foundation on which to build a sound village life. "I would make the wheel the centre round which all other activities will revolve," he had said.
That charkha was not merely a spinning-wheel for making threads had been made amply clear by Gandhi, "Take to spinning (to find peace of mind). The music of the wheel will be as balm to your soul. I believe that the yarn we spin is capable of mending the broken warp and woof of our life.
He believed that the charkha is the symbol of non-violence on which all life, if it is to be real life, must be based. He had also visualised that while charkha was a means of income to the poor, howsoever paltry it might be, it undoubtedly had much greater significance.
Spin and sing
According to the Bangalore-based engineer Hiremath who has been active in the field of non-conventional energy resources, the concept of e-charkha revolves around the need to help weavers not only to produce yarn but also to provide both income and electricity to the poorest masses in remote villages.
The basic idea of the e-charkha is not only to produce yarn but also to generate electricity and employment. With e-charkha in place, spinning would never be the same again, he states.
What's more, it helps the rural population spin charkha at night with worrying about the power cuts. If the power goes off, they just need to switch on to the ‘charkha power' while continuing to enjoy the favourite FM programme while spinning!
According to Hiremath, with the KVIC planning to induct nearly two lakh e-charkha users, the country can save close to about 30 tonne of carbon dioxide (Co2) every day.
Government to push e-charkha
The Government of India recently reconstituted the Khadi and Village Industries Commission with Kumud Joshi as the Chairperson to promote khadi and charkha.
It has also formulated a scheme for enhancing productivity and competitiveness of khadi industry and artisans in consultation with KVIC. This scheme has the principal objective of upgrading the quality of khadi products for domestic as well as export market.
The scheme is proposed to be implemented over a period of five years and after the complete implementation of the scheme, around 24,000 new employment opportunities are expected to be added.
It would be providing services related to overhauling, repairing and renewal of allied equipment for spinning and weaving and replacement of obsolete equipment in operation with 200 of the best performing khadi institutions registered with KVIC. Besides, it will also be setting up service centres, product and design development capacity building of artisans as well as khadi institutions.
The KVIC has also launched ‘Mission Khadi' to convert the khadi fabric into readymade garments of latest designs and is planning to take the help of National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Chennai and NIFT, Kolkata for identification and procurement of appropriate machinery for projects under the Mission.
The author is Deputy Director (M&C) of Press Information Bureau