Under the solar charkha mission, a subsidy of Rs. 9.60 crore has been provided for procuring charkha and looms for the Implementing Agency. The solar-powered charkhas used in these clusters are more productive than the hand-spun charkhas. It will help in minimizing the physical labor required in the spinning yarn and will increase productivity.
Charkha, a portable, hand-brace wheel for spinning cotton, has been a symbol of self-sufficiency and. Charkha was brought into use by the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi. Charkha has long been associated with Gandhi’s Khadi Movement. The khadi movement played a crucial role in the Swadeshi Andolan, which aimed to boycott foreign goods. He boycotted British goods and promoted the spinn ing of khadi for rural self-reliance in the 1920s. Khadi was not just a small piece of cloth but was a metaphor for revolution. It was used as an instrument by Mahatma Gandhi to eradicate poverty and unemployment.
A large section of India’s weavers and artisans are using the hand-spun charkhas since the time of Independence despite being a time-consuming process. Before Independence, the Britishers had control over the Indian textile industry, which resulted in the mass production and introduction of foreign textiles into the nation. It posed a threat to the local textile economy, which comprised of various small weavers and spinners.
Thus, to boost this sector and improve the productivity of this sector, the government under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi in 2018 implemented the Solar Charkha Mission. The solar charkha mission is an enterprise-driven scheme that has envisaged the setting up of the ‘solar charkha clusters,’ covering around 200 to 2024 beneficiaries, including spinners, weavers, stitchers, and other skilled artisans.
After the pilot project’s success on the solar charkha, which was implemented at khanwa village in Bihar in 2016, India’s government has approved the solar charkha mission. With the approval to set up 50 each cluster with a budget of Rs. 550 crore for 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 to generate direct employment to one lakh persons in approved fifty clusters.
In pursuance of the scheme, the Ministry of MSME has classified the solar charkha unit as a village Industry. After testing various solar charkhas models, the Ministry and technical specifications have finalized a standard solar charkha with ten spindles.
The solar charkha mission has envisaged setting up ‘solar charkha clusters,’ including the focal village and other nearby villages in a radius of 8 to 10 kilometers. Each cluster will have about 1000 charkhas, which are to provide direct employment to 2042 artisans.
By the solar charkha mission, a weaver can earn about Rs. 100 as against Rs. 40 they used to get for the manual weaving. This will also help the rural women who are the bulk of khadi workers. Such returns are not possible with the hand-spun charkhas. The biggest beneficiaries of the solar charkha mission will be thousands of artisans living in remote areas where uninterrupted electricity is still a problem. In the areas which are not developed fully, such as hilly areas in north and southern states, there is plenty of sunshine availability that can be used for industrial gain. The effective solarisation in such states can prevent millions of charkhas from being abandoned. These user-friendly charkhas are already in sync with the Central Government’s aim to attract more artisans to the dying craft and provide the means of livelihood.
Following are the engagement of the solar charkha mission-
The scheme consists of three types of involution, namely-
An efficient scheme management structure and the delivery mechanism have been proposed to meet the scheme’s challenges and comprehensive geographical coverage. There will be a Governing Council, which will coordinate and manage the working of the scheme. Such a governing council will be chaired by the minister MSME responsible for providing the overall policy. Under the chairmanship of Secretary (MSME), a Scheme Steering Committee will be constituted. To ensure the proper implementation of the solar charkha scheme, a dedicated Mission Directorate will be created with the CEO, KVIC, as the Mission Director. Such Mission Director will report to the Scheme Steering Committee (SSC).
A proposal has been made to place a dedicated Mission Solar Charkha (MSC) website, to effectively manage the solar charkha scheme and related projects online by inviting proposals to a screening of applications along with side-by-side monitoring of progress till completion. Such website will be enabled with the Project Management System (PMS), which will have in-built systems for online applications, MIS tracking, sharing of reports, monitoring the physical and financial progress, and other tools for project management such as geo-tagging of new units set up under the solar charkha mission scheme.
It is the first push by the government to introduce the solar charkhas on a mega-scale with private and public participation. The charkhas have the potential to be a force multiplier of the Indian economy. The new spinning wheels kit will provide a high-quality yarn by maintaining a constant rotation during weaving. The new looms can dramatically change the khadi Industry’s landscape in the country by reducing the physical strain to both spinners and weavers.
The scheme steering committee (SSC) will accord the approval for a cluster. Such approval will be based upon the proposal of the Promoter Agency and the evaluation of the Detailed Project Report (DPR). Over 3% of the total budget will be accorded under the ‘MSC Administrative Fund‘ for the administrative and scheme management expenses. An additional 1% of the total budget will be dedicated to monitoring, undertaking, and evaluating the scheme’s implementation.
The target of the solar charkha mission scheme will be to cover more than 50 clusters across the country. The solar charkha scheme will be implemented all over India. The implementation of the solar charkha mission will take around two years.
Subsidy and Repayment of money under the solar charkha scheme
A single cluster of the solar charkha will involve a maximum subsidy of RS. 9.599 Crore. The government will provide the money in the form of a loan without interest. A subsidy of 25% will be provided by the Central Government. The date of the Repayment of the actual credit amount will be paid within five years from the start date of production.
Procedure for selecting the Promoter Agency
By fulfilling the defined parameters, the existing Khadi and Village Industry Institution (KVI) can apply for setting up the cluster. Other institutions such as SPV, society trust, company will also be eligible to apply for setting up a new cluster by fulfilling the definite parameters. Even the first-timers will also get benefit from the solar charkha mission.
The State Government will take a proactive engagement in the solar charkha scheme in the following areas-
The Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprise (MSME) will periodically review the progress of the projects under the solar charkha mission scheme. It will be done through the Mission Directorate. Such Mission Directorate will obtain quarterly progress reports and annual progress report showing physical and financial progress from the cluster. Such a report will be forwarded to the Ministry regularly. The Mission Directorate will put in place a dedicated MIS. The Mission Directorate will also be responsible for tracking each cluster’s progress during the period of the project through video-conferencing and other tools of ICT.
To evaluate the solar charkha mission scheme, a third party mid-term evaluation of the clusters is envisaged. Such an evaluation will help determine the deficiencies prevailing in the scheme and take up mid-course corrective measures. At the end of the project duration, an Impact Assessment studies will be undertaken, both at the cluster level and the program level, to validate the outcomes achieved.
The Government of India under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi by introducing the solar charkha scheme aims to make the lives of khadi workers much simpler. With the newly acquired solar-powered charkha, artisan’s daily earnings have gone up from Rs. 140 to Rs. 350. It has given a major boost t their morale. With the solar charkha scheme, there will be a higher chance of employment generation, especially in the rural areas of India. The hard labor of the hand-driven charkhas has been replaced with mechanically operated charkhas. This has helped to increase the output and motivate the homemakers living in rural areas to join the workforce.
Khadi being a metaphor for India’s freedom movement is a homespun fabric that has been given a new life by our PM Narendra Modi. The solar charkha scheme will make khadi a zero carbon footprint fabric by eliminating the use of electricity. By popularizing the solar looms, the Ministry is employing over 50 million women by giving the new machines over the next 10 years. This will drastically help to increase the khadi’s share in the Indian Textile Industry from the present 1.4% share. By extending the solar charkha scheme to all the villages in India, additional jobs up to 80 lakhs will be created under the Ideal Village Plan. Aatmnirbhar Sena is framing policies keeping the solar charkha mission in mind.
The solar-powered charkha will also help to save electricity as it consumes less water as opposed to other fabrics during their production. Thus, khadi is also known as a ‘green fabric’. Khadi Industry is a shining example of a sustainable and eco-friendly industry. The solar charkhas can wheel in change and take Mahatma Gandhi’s legacy forward for a greater good.