Ghandi used the symbol of the charka as that of Indian self reliance and the Congress Party of India still uses the charka on their political party flag. Almost sixty years have passed since India gained independence yet the charka is still being used in millions of rural homes. The charka is now being retrofitted with a small electric generator so that the device can not only spin yarn but also generate electricity for lighting the homes of poor villagers. The e-charka as it is now known is connected to a battery while the villager spins yarn and the stored energy is in turn used to power LED lights in the home. Two hours of pedalling an e-charka provides sufficient energy to light the home for 8 hours. The LEDs are replacing kerosene lamps that were traditionally used in rural homes in India. I had jokingly suggested that US provide its prison population that now totals some two million inmates with stationary bikes that have a generator attached. Prisoners need exercise and turning their exercise into green energy may be more useful than most of the present prison practices.
A human with a 2,000 calorie diet is consuming approximately 100 watts of power on a 24 by 7 basis. When we exercise and burn calories, part of the energy consumed is emitted as heat from our bodies but a fraction can actually be harnessed as useful energy. On a stationery bike we could generate approximately 50 watts of energy if the pedals were connected to a generator. The Indian villager that is powering the e-charka is likely not breaking a massive sweat and is engaging in more moderate exercise. I estimate that they are generating something like 15 watts of pedal powered electricity. If the yarn spinning activity is for two hours a day the villager will generate a total 30 watt hours each day. As the LED is ten times more efficient in emitting light than an incandescent light bulb the villager will have generated sufficient electricity to light the home with the radiance equal to one 40 watt incandescent light bulb. A lot of work for a little amount of light but the e-charka has the benefit of producing yarn as well as keeping the villager fit.
Perhaps one of the major US political parties could trade in their symbol of the elephant or the donkey for an e-charka and we too may enjoy energy independence. Better still old Alfalfa and the Governator should try powering their private jets with charkas. I wonder how Arne would pronounce the word Charka.