Impoverished Indian families can look into getting the e-charkha, an electricity-generating version of the ubiquitous yarn-making spinning wheel, as a way to increase productivity without a boost in energy costs. The e-charkha, designed by RS Hiremath, generates juice as the charkha spins and diverts it into a free battery at the bottom of the machine.
About two hours of spinning would be enough to run a custom LED light source for six to seven more hours, significantly extending the amount of time families can work. Using LEDs will also help families avoid kerosene lamps, which drastically reduce air quality inside the home when they are used. The Indian government is already giving away several of the e-charkhas to Indian residents under its "Funds for Regeneration of Traditional Industries" program. A good thing, since very few of the people who need it can afford the roughly $US200 it costs. [Inhabitat]