I came across an article in my Spring 2009 issue of Spin Off Magazine ( a magazine about making yarn by hand) that I have read several times and still can't get over the concept of a government actually HELPING it's people become more self-reliant and not charging them for it.
People in India raise cotton. At one time they were selling their cotton cheaply to the English and then buying it back as expensive cloth. Gandhi suggested that the Indian people spin their own cotton yarn. He believed that the spinning wheel was a tool that would aid India in becoming more independent and self reliant. Hence the invention of a foldable, easily portable spinning wheel called the Charkha ( wheel in Indian).
This is called a book charkha. You can see the hinges in the middle and it actually folds up when not in use. I have only seen one used a couple of times. It is so amazing to watch these little wheels at work. It takes skill and practice but artisans that can do it make it look easy :)
A new spinning wheel has been designed in this country called an e-charkha. This is a charkha that generates electricity! Spinning on this wheel for approximately two hours generates enough juice to fill a battery pack that will run a radio or a light bulb for six or seven hours. Is this amazing or what!!! These folks spin a lot - imagine what this can do for these people. This entire concept just blows my mind. I love it!
The icing on the cake..........1.2 million rural Indians spin on these charkhas to make a living. The GOVERNMENT of India is going to somehow make these e-charkha wheels available to ALL of these people at LOW or NO COST - can you believe it ????
This is the best thing I've read in months. I know I should be concerned about what's going on in my own backyard but I have to tell you, this gives me hope in humanity......people helping people. Government supporting and working for their people.