October 2 2019: On the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, we ask a question that many have before us: was Gandhiji against technology as generally believed. The answer is no! He recognized what technology could do, maybe he was even ahead of his time as the following episode reveals. And he may have been the original sponsor of a hack to design a better charkha or spinning wheel!
In 1929, Gandhiji announced a Machine Contest with a prize money of 7700 Pounds - wherein he was looking for engineers who could come up with a machine that would take in as input - raw cotton and produce yarn as output. His thought was to break the backbone of English Textile Industry which flourised thanks to Indian Raw Cotton. He wanted Indians to make the yarn and in turn make home grown clothing as good as the Read the English Translation of the Hindi Announcement of Gandhiji's Machine Contest here
At the end of the contest time, he received a number of machines, but none of them satisfying all the criterion cited. Gandhiji's frustration remained." He concluded saying: At that point of time, in 1930s, the technology was not well developed to realise a machine of the kind that Gandhiji has asked for
Source: courtesy IIIT Hyderabad.