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Published on September 22nd, 2008 | by Ariel Schwartz

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Gandhi-Inspired Spinning Wheel Generates Electricity

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September 22nd, 2008 by  

Mahatma Gandhi believed that the spinning wheel, or charkha, was a sign of self-reliance and independence. Now that belief is being taken to a new level with the e-charkha, a hand-driven spinning wheel that generates electricity.

The e-charkha, which was designed by  Gandhi follower Ekambar Nath, can generate enough electricity in its attached battery for 6-7 hours of power in rural homes. Two hours of operation can light up the e-charkha’s specially designed LED light for eight hours— so the spinning wheel provides enough light for its continued use as an instrument of clothing production.

Even though the e-charkha is only 9,000 rupees ($197), the Indian government is giving the spinning wheels away for free in the farming village of Jatwara.

The spinning wheel reminds me of the electricity-generating exercise machines in Portland’s Green Microgym. There are so many opportunities to harness the electricity we already generate in our daily lives— I’m glad to see people are taking advantage of it all over the world.

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About the Author

was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a senior editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine, and more. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.



  • Matthew McDermott

    Cool concept. One niggling point though: The e-charkha was not invented by Ekamber Nath (who’s a person not a philosophy) but by R.S. Hiremath. Ekamber Nath invented the type of spinning wheel which the e-charkha is based off of. The article linked in this post got that point wrong.

    Cheers, and keep up the good work.

  • Matthew McDermott

    Cool concept. One niggling point though: The e-charkha was not invented by Ekamber Nath (who’s a person not a philosophy) but by R.S. Hiremath. Ekamber Nath invented the type of spinning wheel which the e-charkha is based off of. The article linked in this post got that point wrong.

    Cheers, and keep up the good work.

  • http://ecochildsplay.com Jennifer Lance

    This is really cool. I have a spinning wheel, and my kids love to play with it.

  • http://ecochildsplay.com Jennifer Lance

    This is really cool. I have a spinning wheel, and my kids love to play with it.

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