This is a part of an ongoing series called ‘Grassroots Innovation’.
A hand winding process called Asu is required in the traditional ‘Tie & Dye’ Pochampalli silk saree tradition. This involves moving the hand over a space of one meter up and down around semi-circularly arranged pegs 9000 times (yes, 9000 times!) for one sari. For each sari to be completed it takes almost 4 to 5 hours.
Chintakindi Mallesham (37) was born in a small village of handloom weavers , Sharjipet (AP). His mother, Laxmi, used to do the Asu that caused tremendous pain in her shoulders & elbow joints. Even though Mallesham didn’t have much knowledge in mechanical or electrical technology, a strong desire to relieve his mother’s pain egged him to achieve his goal.
Part by part he developed and fitted mechanical devices to a wooden frame. Because of lack of requisite skills, he ended up wasting his hard earned money many times. He used to go to Hyderabad to shop for relevant components. By observing different machine parts he managed to complete some portions of the machine successfully. His family was now fed up of his obsession of making Asu process, so he left the village to make a living in Hyderabad. Within a short while, the machine was almost ready except for one movement. He reached a blind spot where he had no idea which part to use for the action that involves the thread to go round the peg and slide down the last thread perfectly.
In feb 1999, he went to work in a machine shop in Balanagar area in Secunderabad. In one machine he noticed a movement similar to what he required. He took leave for the day and rushed to the workshop to get that component manufactured. With his heart in his mouth, he fitted the component in the machine and started the operation. The machine worked. His friend then used the Asu machine processed yarn to make a sari. The quality that came out was better than the hand woven Asu process!
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The first machine was made in 1999, mounted on a wooden frame. Next year, the same was changed to steel. Now many electronic components have been added thereby increasing the functionality and flexibility of design. The Asu machine has reduced the time taken to weave a sari from 4 hours to just one and a half hours. This means that women in the village can now make 6 saris instead of 2 saris per day – earning more in the process.
The Road Ahead
Till date Mallesham has sold over 600 Asu machines. His next dream is to develop a loom for weaving saris – this loom currently requires 3000 leg and hand movements over a period of 2-3 days. Mallesham has already developed a small prototype. Here’s wishing this innovator all the very best in his pursuits!
NIF has been supporting and incubating a number of interesting innovations over the past many years.