Pushpa Ahir’s life was no different. She added to her the meagre income of her husband, a casual labourer, through commission earned by supplying the pouches. But four years ago, her husband suffered a paralytic stroke due to severe alcoholism and this 40-year-old housewife had no means livelihood.
But lives of Pushpa and many other women like her are spinning back to normalcy. Solar charkha, a modified version of Gandhiji’s spinning wheel, has given these women a strong reason to give up desi daru supply and earn money through respectable means.
Under the Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) scheme, the government provides solar-panel fitted automatic charkhas costing Rs 45,000 free of cost to the women aged 18 to 40 years. They are trained to operate the spinning wheel and government also provides them cotton to make threads.
“I was initially reluctant to attend charkha training classes. I was unsure how much I could earn. But for the last four months, I am getting Rs 6,000 a month. This has given me fresh hope to live life respectably,” Pushpa told TOI.
Tejal Halpati, a 22-year- old student of Industrial Training Institute (ITI), also learnt spinning the charkha to supplement her sewing skills. She and other young girls like Khushbu Mistry and Vaishali Rathod who live in Dhanori are earning at least Rs 6,000 a month and adding to their families income.
Traditionally, youngsters of some dominant castes and communities in this region get involved in the supply chain of country liquor.
“For every 30 kg of thread made from the spindle, a woman gets Rs 4,000. One woman can make 1.5 kg thread in a day by working for four hours. The stock of thread is taken by the the government,” said Jigna Vaidya , coordinator of the solar charkha project, who was also the first woman sarpanch of Dhanori.
In Dhanori alone, which has a population of around 3,000, are three training batches of 25 women each.
Another solar spindle centre is being run at Talachora village of Navsari district and four others in Surat’s Pandesara, Navagam and Bhathena areas.
Vaidya , a radio physicist and electronics post-graduate said, “Most woman who come for charkha training are desperate to get out of ugly surrounding of country liquor business and earn a decent living. They are now getting the earning opportunity sitting at home.”