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Charkha: a local tool used politically by Gandhi

Charkha: a local tool used politically by Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi ingeniously deployed the charkha or the spinning wheel as an important tool for political emancipation, using it as a metaphor for "the old work ethic" and as a symbol of economic and social reaction to British rule. A spinning wheel is a old wheeled instrument operated by a pedal or a crank, and used for spinning wool, hemp or flax as well as any other fiber.

The wheel can be considered a prominent icon in several Buddhist relics. The chakra (wheel) designates the source of all formative ideas, movement and the law of order (dharma). The spinning wheel, or charkha in India, continues to represent the ideology of the chakra.

Early evidence reveals the use of the charkha in Baghdad (circa 1200 CE), where it may have been arrived in India and China. The etymology of "charkha" is derived from the Persian word "charkh" which means "circle" or wheel "

British East Indian society quickly began to use its colonies, in especially India, as a market for its expensive industrially produced textiles - buying from exploitable way of unprocessed resources such as cotton at very low prices.

One of the ideas of Mahatma Gandhi's fight for freedom was to reject "foreign property". He strategically adopted the spinning wheel as a tool in the implementation of three main objectives:

1. Rejection of British textiles in favor of locally spun khadi

2. Creation of financial freedom for every citizen

3. A method of non-violent protest.


By Inès T.