Solar power helps Indian women make light work of cotton spinning
The solar charkhas - which feature 12 spindles, double the number on Anita's old wheel - are equipped with a motor and battery pack, and provided along with a 400 watt solar panel.
Anita is one of about 4,000 women across villages in Uttar Pradesh - India's most populous state and one of the poorest - who have been trained to use and provided with the solar charkhas in recent years under the state government initiative.
Since 2018, solar charkhas worth 50,000 rupees have been distributed to about 1,000 women annually in Uttar Pradesh for free by the state's Khadi and Village Industries Board.
Navneet Sehgal, additional chief secretary at UPKVIB, said persuading rural and "Patriarchal" households to allow women to attend solar charkha training had proved a challenge initially - but emphasised that the project was thriving after a slow start.
Solar chains The project in Uttar Pradesh followed a separate nationwide 2018 scheme, 'Mission Solar Charkha', with the aim of providing the wheels to create jobs for up to 100,000 people - from spinners to stitchers - in 50 areas or 'clusters' across India.
"Off-grid solar applications can fit well into area-specific needs and penetrate any nook and corner of remote terrains," said Shyam Dhar Dubey, senior project officer at UPNEDA. However, Dubey said the high cost of maintaining solar panel systems could be a barrier to their long-term sustainability.
In the case of the solar charkhas initiative, he hailed their impact on local women in a short space of time.