Gandhiji settled in Maganwadi, Wardha, after his departure from Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad. He named this Ashram after Maganlal Gandhi, his close associate and a rural scientist who had been his right hand in all the earlier three Ashrams but who suddenly died while working, at his behest, in Bihar in 1928.
Dedicated to the cause of village industries Gandhiji founded the All India Village Industries Association (AIVIA) by a resolution of the All India Congress Committee on 26th October 1934.
Towering national personalities like Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, renowned humanist and international scientists like Shri.C.V.Raman and Prof. Jagadish Chandra Bose, Shri P.C.Ray and prominent industrialist Shri G.D.Birla were part of the advisory board of AIVIA.
Gandhiji himself as the chairman, with Kumarappaji as the secretary of AIVIA, undertook the foremost all India movement of revival and expansionarious rural industries, Khadi and artisans based crafts. AIVIA evolved, developed, and disseminated rural industries as well as trained several organizations and artisans.
On 30th December 1938 Gandhiji innograted Magan Sangrahalaya – The very first museum of Rural Industries and Khadi. He wanted it to be a dynamic window on evolving techniques in rural industrialization and a centre of education for the common person to impart information on new modes of production which could help the poor of the land.
Dr. Devendra Kumar, a young Oil technologist, joined AIVIA from 1949 to 1952 as a scientist and undertook the onus of providing momentum to the noble cause of helping those below the poverty line by empowering them with the tool of science and technology.
In 1978, Devendra Bhai (which was his popular name) made Magan Sanghralaya his base and took up the mission to create a new awareness pertaining to Gandhian values among the scientists, technologists, economists, sociologists and experts in various disciplines all over the country. Here he set up the Center of Science for villages. His entire life was nothing but a relentless pursuit to provide a human face to technology with the dream that no one slept hungry and every citizen of India became self sufficient and lead a life of dignity and honor. The main objective of Magan Sangrahalaya Samiti (MSS) is to bring to the fore indigenous skills of the village artisans, stemming from the accumulated traditional knowledge, and facilitate its interaction with the recent knowledge of science and technology. To innovate technologies that could be converted into sustainable business opportunities at the grassroots level.
The other objectives are research, development and dissemination of Khadi and village industries, agriculture, dairy etc. alongwith the display and demonstrate of their production processes
Dr. Devendra Kumar, popularly known as Devendra Bhai, was hailed as the doyen of Appropriate Technology in India.
A science graduate from Lucknow University and an Oil Technologist from the famous Harcourt Butler Technological Institute, Devendra Bhai left a lucrative job to join the Gandhian Movement in 1946. Influenced by the Gandhian economic philosophy of decentralization, he joined the All India Village Industries Association (AIVIA), of which Mahatma Gandhi was the president and Prof.J.C. Kumarappa was the secretary. Prof. Kumarappa was a great Gandhian Economist, who influenced Gandhiji to initiate the ‘Namak Satyagraha’ (or the famous ‘Salt Movement’) against the British Raj.
Devendra Bhai helped his Guru Kumarappaji for six years in research and innovative experiments in various village industries he also edited and translated his books as well as articles, which Gandhiji hailed as the best analysis of the village economy of India and called Kumarappa the ‘Doctor of Village Industries’.
In 1952, Devendra Bhai opted to live with the landless poor of a small insulated hilly village, called ‘Machala’, near Indore in Madhya Pradesh for eight long years – to experience village life in the raw. He made a sea change in the lives of the rural people of Machala who still revere him as a saint who changed their lives by making them self-sufficient to lead a life of dignity and honour. He was also a part of the ‘Bhoodan’ movement (where big land owners donated land to the landless poor) spearheaded by Vinoba Bhave – the barefoot ‘Saint on the march’. Under Vinobaji’s guidance, Devendra Bhai acted as the state level organizer of Bhoodan and was also active in Sarvodaya and village movements.
In 1965, Devendra Bhai was invited to become the Secretary of the National Gandhi Memorial Trust at New Delhi and was made the Organizing Secretary of the National Committee for Gandhi Centenary of which the President of India was the President and the Prime Minister of India Chairperson. He initiated a number of institutions and was connected to various national and international committees on Gandhian constructive movement. Devendra Bhai acted as a vital link between the grassroots NGOs in the Gandhian field and the policy makers at the Central Government level. He was involved in organizing important meetings with the Prime Minister and the concerned ministers on various issues. He was also instrumental in cultivating a number of scientific institutions in Delhi to orient them towards rural needs. Even the concept of having Rural Development and Appropriate Technology cells at all the IITs in India, was the brainchild of Devendra Bhai. Not many people are aware that he was the person who helped in the formulation of the Council for Advancement of Rural Technology (CART) – the erstwhile CAPART. He was a member of around 150 national Science & Technology committees.
In 1978, Devendra Bhai took up the mission of his Guru – Kumarappa – of taking the benefits of technology to the rural poor and initiated the Centre of Science for Villages (CSV) at Magan Sangrahalaya. Wardha. With a team of committed scientists and technocrats, CSV developed 75 technologies to convert them into business opportunities for the rural people and constructed 30,000 low-cost mud houses, 100,000 hygienic toilets, 20,000 biogas plants and trained around 30,000 rural artisans in improved scientific techniques (like non-violent honey extraction, gum-collection without harming the trees, single-bullock driven agricultural equipment and improved potter’s wheel). In fact, he started a major artisan movement called ‘Karigar Panchayat’, creating artisan guilds in 22 states of India with a total strength of 200, 000 artisans.
Though Devendra Bhai is no more in this world, his daughter – Dr Vibha Gupta – is carrying on the torch by creating sustainable livelihoods in Rural India through technological interventions. She has been working with Devendra Bhai since 1978 and is currently the Chairperson of the Magan Sangrahalaya Samiti.
The institute runs the historical museum of rural industries – Magan Sangrahalaya. It is the only museum in India founded by Mahatma Gandhi in the year 1938, dedicated to the artisans of India.
The museum showcases 32 rural industries including – Food processing, Agriculture tools for small farmers , Honey from the wild rock-bees, Non-violent Leather (goods from fallen hides ), Pottery, Hand made paper, oil from edible & Non-edible seeds. It also exhibits industries based on Palm, Bamboo, Lac, Grasses, Jute, Wood, Metal, Glass, Stone, Mud, Horn, Cow dung and Cow urine.
The khadi wing showcases forty different kinds of Charkha dating back to year 1930. The Charkhas displayed in the exhibition range from the hand, pedal to solar driven Charkha. It also displays the changing form of Charkha from Sudarshan (Wheel) to kissan (Box) to Ambar charkha and presently the E-Charkha. The display wing hold sections on Khadi, Natural Dye, Silk, Raw-Silk, Wool and Jute mixed Khadi.
This wing displays the belongings and the gifts received by Mahatma Gandhi. Some of the rare Articles of Mahatma Gandhi exhibited here include Gandhiji’s Hair, Smallest spinning wheel (Charkha) used by him, self signed statue of Mahatma Gandhi (only statue of it’s kind in the world) & the stone on which Gandhi made the first Handmade paper.
Rural Technology Wing presents 18 rural based low-cost simple technologies. that can be adopted by the rural household. It exhibits energy conserving technologies, low cost mud housing, improved agriculture tools, agro- processing tool, and water purification and conservation technology.
Gandhi Chitra Pradarshani (Picture gallery on life of Gandhi) is run in close conjunction with Sevagram Ashram. This photo exhibition of Gandhiji is annually visited by about three lakh visitors.
The organization runs Prakrutik Ahar Kendra at Sewagram that sells organic grains, cereals, pulses, natural sugar, honey and food articles. All the organic food is procured from organic farmers associated with Magan Sangrahalaya. The outlet provides hot organic meal made from organic season vegetables, coarse grain and fresh oil. The beverages contain herbal tea, coffee and drinks made from flowers.
The institution has a small documentation unit with 6000 books on subjects like Gandhi, Vinoba, Kumarappa, Rural Technology, Organic farming, Environment etc. The centre has 300 archival documents published by All India Village Industries Association during 1930 to 1960.
The centre published the following books by J.C.Kumarappa : 1 Why the villages movement 2. Economy of Permanence 3. Public Finance & Our Poverty 4. Gaon Andolan Kyon 5. Sthai Samaj Vyavstha.
Books by Dr.Devendra Kumar – 1.Pause and Think Wither Science 2. Towards Sustainability 3. Sthai Vikas Ka Path 3. The Inevitable Gandhi 4. Your questions and Gandhi’s Answers
Prakrutik Jivan Kendra is an alternative health centre based on Nature Cure, Organic Food, Yoga, Mind empowerment and Aurvedic Massage is run by the institute. Every year around 2000 patients are treated in this centre.
The new venture is Antardeep (inner light) provides a neutral, non judgmental and compassionate environment in which using simple, interactive and practical techniques
emotional empowerment, thought management, stress management ,Energy management, Karma management, physical body management, healing, mind de-conditioning.
The Khadi (a hand-woven and hand-spun cotton cloth) sector is supported by the Government by providing rebate on the sale of Khadi. Magan Sangrahalaya took up the production and sale of Khadi as a mission to support the dying weavers and spinners and sell the eco-friendly cloth to the people without taking any Government subsidy.
To increase the productivity and earnings of thick-yarn weavers using traditional Charkha, MSS developed a Four-spindle Magana Charkha, an improvised spinning wheel. The critical intervention here is the replacement of the costly multi-national ‘Top Arm’ by an indigenous ‘Top Arm’, which can be easily fabricated and repaired in any village workshop. With this appropriate device, the spinner can earn and produce four times more than before.
Presently, this self-reliant Khadi unit of MSS is providing employment to 150 artisans including sliver plant workers, spinners, weavers, tailors, dyers and sales persons. With the collective effort of MSS team and artisans, the institute annually sells 50 Lakh Rupees worth of Khadi.
Using the decentralized, sliver plant developed by Dastakar, Andhra Pradesh, MSS is producing the best quality eco-friendly organic sliver. At the same time, it is also recycling the organic cotton seeds back to the organic farmer since the process keeps the seeds intact.
To conserve the environment and optimize the use of bio-friendly forest refuse ,MSS has developed 200 hues of organic dyes, most of which are made from unutilized local forest produce like Aam (Mangifera Indica), Palash (Butea Monosperma) Pakpu (Antigonan Leptopus), Behada (Terminalia Bellerica) and Bibba or Bilwa (Semicarpus Anacardium)
With the support of Department of Science and Technology, Govt. of India, MSS has developed new improved tools and techniques of natural dyeing and effective ways of recycling the effluents of a natural dyeing unit. As a low cost alternative to block printing, MSS has also developed an innovative printing technique by using fresh leaves where by from a single leaf 200 motifs can be printed.
Unable to cope with constantly rising cost of farm inputs and decreasing crop yield, farmers are unable to pay back their debts and are compelled to commit suicide. In the state of Maharashtra from year 1995, 35,000 farmers have committed suicide. This year 712 farmers of Vidarbha region have committed suicide. Knowing that degree of dependence equals degree of exploitation, Natural Farming frees farmer from dependence on exploitative market and commercial interests. Hence, MSS volunteers initiated the Natural farming campaign in villages of wardha.
The Natural Farming practice is low cost organic agriculture that protects environment, earth, water, bio-diversity, livelihood, and promises sustainability. It focuses on increasing soil humus by scientific introduction of cow dung, cow urine, and biomass. The organic inputs, Indigenous seeds, bio-diversity and multilayer cropping help earthworms, bees, and birds to contribute in controlling pests, enhancing pollination and improving soil health, combats water waste and contamination.
If properly adopted, Natural Farming technology reduces water requirement by 20 to 30%. The Natural Farmer can make his own seeds, pesticides, and manure minimizing the cost of farm input. The uniqueness of this innovation is its acceptability and adaptability by a large number of farmers.
The 25 villages of Samudrapur block (Wardha Dist.) 2000 farmers are practicing Natural Farming on 1482 Hact.land. In five of these villages 90 % farmers adopted Natural farming.
With Natural Farming, the soil quality has shown considerable improvement. In the first year, the productivity remained constant whereas in the second year, the production per acre increased by 20 to 30%. Instead of one or two crops farmers now cultivate 10 to 30 varieties of crops. Some farmers have started cultivating indigenous crops like Flax seed.
This movement of Natural Farming is to free the farmers from the clutches of money-lenders and banks from whom they had taken heavy debts to purchase hybrid seeds, chemical fertilizers and pesticides. All the farmers started preparing farm inputs in their own farms.
In last two years, 2000 farmers adopted Natural Farming. Now these farmers are a proud self-reliant community, free from debt, dependence, domination, and disease. The farmers, who shifted from chemical farming to natural farming, did without buying 25 million Rupees worth of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Instead of filling the coffers of corporate sector, this money was recycled back into the village economy.
The farm productivity increased and none borrowed money from bank or moneylender. As never before, farmers not only used the water optimally but also prevented it from pollution.
Along with gaining self – sufficiency in farm inputs it was equally important for organic farmers to be self-reliant in terms of energy usage. Therefore, to overcome the crisis of long and frequent power cuts, MSS installed a Bullock operated Water Pump. This pump is a combined effort of Mr. P. L. Sharma, Sultan Aslam and Mr. Vivek Chaturvedi of Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh.
This bullock pump, with three horse power capacity, draws from a depth of 30 feet 12,000 liters of water per hour. Eight water sprinklers can operate on this bullock pump.Apart from lifting water, the pump act like a prim mover and can also be used for running other machines like a grinder, chaff cutter or generator.
In the summers of 2002, Dr. Vibha Gupta met the women from Girad village of Samudrapur block, Wardha, who informed about the acute water crisis in their village and how a mass exodus from the adjoining three water-scarce villages has aggravated their crisis. The famous pilgrimage – Farid Baba Dargah that annually attracted 15-20 lakh pilgrims, added to this water crisis.
On reaching Girad, she found that the wells were drying; there were ugly fights and violence at water sources; the tigers from the adjoining forest were moving down to these villages in search of water and outside villages refused to marry their daughters to men of these villages and liquor booths were outnumbering food stalls. As the first step, with the help of the local community, MSS led an anti-liquor campaign and succeeded in banning its sale.
Then, a detailed watershed action plan was prepared and CAPART (Govt. of India) agreed to fund it. In four years, watershed structures and 70,000 new trees planted on the Farid Pahad started showing results. The level of groundwater and well-water in the village rose by 5-6 feet. These villages that were supplied with 24 million liters of drinking water through water tankers, during summer months, now have sufficient water and are not required to pay for the water tankers.
MSS is introducing water and soil conservation structures in an area of 2500 hectare, covering eight water scarcity villages. Farm bunds and drains brought 200-acre additional land under cultivation. A total of 5602 Metric Ton soil is also saved from erosion.
MSS has constructed 36 kilometer long Continuous Contour Trenches to check rainwater from flowing down the Baba Farid Pahad (hillock). It has succeeded in conserving 9000 cubic meters of water during every monsoon by constructing Gulley Plugs, CCT, Stone Bunds and several other measures to catch every raindrop falling on the hillock. Seven Collective Farm Ponds and 50 farm ponds are providing irrigation to 1,000 Small and Marginal Farmers
Bhavanpur Village is one of the watershed villages with 100 households, where every household is member of a Self Help Group. Two years back the sanitation condition of the village was pathetic and the local people resorted to open defecation on the village roads. After a series of meetings, all the households were motivated to construct one toilet and one bathroom in each house. Each of the 100 households of Bhavanpur Village collected 1000 rupees and deposited a total sum of one Lakh rupees in the State Bank of India, so that each household gets a loan of 10000 rupees to construct a bathroom-toilet set from, SBI, Girad Branch.
Under a new scheme initiated by NABARD, State Bank of India offers a soft loan for construction of sanitation units to SHGs at 11% interest to be paid back in 5 to 7 years. For the Total Village Sanitation Program, field workers and masons of Magan Sangrahalaya Samiti were trained in construction of sanitation units and prefabricated cement doors at Gram Vikas, Orissa. And the team with cooperation of the village built sanitation units for each and every household of Bhavanpur. For the first time, without any financial help from the Govt. or any other agency, all the 75 households with their own resources built neat and hygienic toilets. Bhawanpur is no more the same. In fact, a model village has proved that ‘when there is a will, there is a way’.
Magan Sanghralaya Samiti mobilized 10000 women in 100 villages of Seloo and Samudrapur blocks (Wardha District, Maharashtra) and formed 600 Self Help Groups. Majority of these women are farm labor, daily wageworkers, manual labor, and many subsist below the poverty line.
The SHG program assists in capacity building of rural women, raising their technical skills and creativity; accounting and management skill; general confidence and interactive capacity; thereby raising their social, economic and political status.
Political and Social awareness amongst SHGs culminated in Twelve SHG women becom Sarpanch (village head), Gram Panchayat Members (member of village council) and Zila Parishad Members (Member of District Council).
In four years, the meager savings of SHGs increased manifold and now their total saving in 16 banks amounts to 1,00,65,000/- rupees and their total monetary transactions have crossed the figure of Five Crore rupees.
If women have money, the living standard of the household is bound to improve. To earn more money, these women had to break away from the status of low paid manual labourer to technically skilled entrepreneur. To meet this objective, MSS trained 760 Women SHG members in the manufacture of 120 products at 50 technical centers, including Regional Research Laboratories.
The enthusiasm and confidence of the trained skilled women groups lead to establishment of 50 new enterprises in 40 villages of Seloo and Samudrapur blocks of Wardha district. Thirty members have opened their own shops to sell products of women enterprises along with other daily use items.
These enterprises produce products such as vermi-compost, herbal pesticides, banana fibre, solar dried food products, soyabean products, spices, brooms, milk chocolates, wooden toys, utility products, soaps, detergents, Liquid Blue, phenol, lantana furniture, agro-waste briquettes, paper products, neem and cow dung products, leaf cups, Khadi (cotton) yarn, carpets (Dari) from waste cloth, herbal medicines and products from forest produce like Amla, Imli, Ber, Bel, Mahua, Mango, Chili, Papaya, Tomato & seasonal vegetables.
It is heartening to note that at present, these micro enterprises are giving subsidiary employment to 875 rural women. Some of the women grew from the status of daily wage earners to an entrepreneur. Women who never stepped outside their villages participated in 15 exhibitions organized in four states, by Gram Panchayat, Voluntary Agencies, Government Departments and Banks.
Wardha Wardhan is a week long annual fair is organized by the institute where NGOs, activist groups, farmers, artisans and artists display, demonstrate, and sell their products. It also provides a platform for all these groups to interact with each other.
For public, it gives an opportunity to know about alternative living, eco-friendly products, ideas and methods to conserve nature and meet people who have pioneered to evolve new alternatives. Here, the people are exposed to alternative products and processes such as organic food; alternative fuel; alternative sources of energy, alternative to multinational products, alternatives to chemical products; herbal medicines as alternative to allopathic drugs etc. It include a culture which emphasizes the use of natural products, their beneficial proprieties vis-à-vis chemical based products.
It serves as a market for ecologically sound products where competition and commercialism is replaced by common sense and compassion. Around 70,000 people from Wardha and surrounding villages also visited this exposition.
Through a network of volunteers the Karigar Panchayat (artisan movement) is spread out in 21 states of in India covering 200000 artisans including wood worker, black smith, bamboo worker, leather artisans, honey gatherers, potters, metal worker, weavers, mat makers, grass artisans etc.
The Objectives of Karigar Panchayat
1. Work towards the upliftment, development and progress of artisans. 2. Artisans should play a complementary role in environmental conservation and enhancement. 3. Karigar Panchayat must form honest, brave, healthy and progressive relationship with the society. 4. Karigar Panchayat should transcend the village peripheries to facilitate and strengthen the culture, art, science, wisdom and spiritual values of the entire nation. 5. All the decisions of Karigar Panchayat should be through consensus. 6. With a collective effort, Karigar Panchayat members should get rid of their ill habits, addictions and unhealthy customs. 7. Karigar Panchayat should form a sound understanding of policies, laws, projects and schemes affecting the artisans and disseminate them the information that leads to appropriate interventions for the benefit of the artisans, the society and the environment.
• Introduced improved tools • Introduced New Designs and fabrication techniques • Initiated Improved processing for better quality products • Trained tribal artisans in environment friendly technologies 10000 Tribal Honey Hunters trained in non-violent scientific honey extraction
Success of Magan Sangrahalaya’s reach under its Karigar Panchayat programme saved 200 potters from starvation. The following story illustrates how MSS facilitated preservation of their traditional market.
Ganapati is the most popular god of Maharashtra State (and all of India). The Ganapati festival is celebrated by millions using mud idols of Ganesha. During the last decade, the traditional mud idol of Ganapati had been replaced by the mass produced plaster of paris idols, which not only pollute the rivers and water bodies where they are immersed in large quantities after the festivities but also rob the traditional mud-idol artisans of their livelihood. In Wardha town itself, 200 artisans were on the verge of starvation due to the loss of their traditional source of income. Magan Sangrahalaya Samiti worked closely with these artisan members of the ‘Karigar Panchayat’ movement to mobilize the community, religious groups and governmental infrastructure and local business groups.
Enlightening all stakeholders about the ecologically unsound and indestructible plaster-of-paris idols and encourage the naturally disintegrating and environment-friendly mud idols which have bio-friendly solvent properties, resulting is non-degradation of water bodies during the immersion process. The remarkable achievement led to re-instatement of traditional artisans’ craft and revival of their livelihoods. After the success in Wardha artisans in other part of Maharashtra State that followed this initiative
Magan Sangrahalaya Samiti is promoting and strengthening the market of artisan products, products of women entrepreneurs run rural enterprises and organic farm produce of organic farmers. To support the sale of organic products and Khadi, the institution has opened three sales outlets in Wardha, Sewagram and Seloo. The other marketing channels are the 50 rural outlets in Seloo and Samudrapur blocks owned and run by women SHGs members. The exhibitions organized by CAPART, DRDA, KVIC and other NGOs also serve as a platform for marketing and promoting the products of SHGs and Organic Farmers. Some of the products are finding place in local Yatras, Haats, Bazaars and Melas. Magan Sangrahalaya is presently concentrating on developing a local market for the local produce.
The institution is closely linked to around 500 National Voluntary Organisation working in the area of Rural Technology, Water, Organic Farming, Village Industries, Khadi, Basic Education and Alternative health.