The Charka is a portable, hand cranked spinning wheel in varying sizes so that it can be worked on the floor or from a table top and which packs down efficiently so is easily transportable. Famously used by Mahatma Gandhi in his mission to free the country from over priced foreign goods, the Charka became both tool and symbol of India’s wish for independence. Ghandis ideal was that spinning and weaving would help to make every village and every family self sufficient.

Some say that today, at a time when the gap between rich and poor is widening, the Charka is more important than it ever was, hand spinning and weaving is again being promoted to aid self sufficiency.n Certainly the idea of Khadi, handwoven cloth has spread, and as the quality improves it becomes move viable as a serious export to those living in more affluent countries.


The Provisional Giverment of India formed during World War 1 depicted a dark blue charka between orange and green horizontal stripes

Gandhiji in discussion with G.Ramachandran, October 21 and 22, 1924

“ Are you against all machinery, Bapuji?

How can I be when I know that even this body is a most delicate piece of machinery? The spinning-wheel itself is a machine; a little tooth-pick is a machine. What I object to, is the craze for machinery, not machinery as such. The craze is for what they call labour-saving machinery. Men go on” saving labour” till thousands are without work and thrown on the open streets to die of starvation. I want to save time and labour, not for a fraction of mankind, but for all. I want the concentration of wealth, not in the hands of a few, but in the hands of all. Today machinery merely helps a few to ride on the backs of millions. The impetus behind it all is not the philanthropy to save labour, but greed. It is against this constitution of things that I am fighting with all my might.

 Then Bapuji, you are fighting not against machinery as such, but against its abuses which are so much in evidence today?

I would unhesitatingly say” yes”; but I would add that scientific truths and discoveries should first of all cease to be the mere instruments of greed. Then labourers will not be over-worked and machinery instead of becoming a hindrance will be a help. I am aiming, not at eradication of all machinery, but limitations.”  Bess Neilson


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