The Making of Malkha

Malkha combines thousands of years of Indian experience of cotton with modern engineering skills.

Cotton cloth made on a small scale, in dispersed locations, using locally grown cottons, was what made India the world leader in cotton textiles for thousands of years. However, the modern spinning mills and powerlooms, with their huge scale of operation, leave no scope for diverse and decentralised modes of textile production.

The Malkha process explores an alternative to the present situation where small-scale yarn-making units replace large-scale spinning mills. Thus it provides the missing link in a fully rural cotton textile industry using local raw material and local skills. It evolves a way in which both farmers and weavers benefit from each other, and in which spinning also becomes a rural occupation. It allows people to work near their homes rather than having to move to the ghettos of mill or powerloom textile hubs, thereby creating a strong link between farming and local textile production which empowers the rural society both socially and politically.

At present, there are five Malkha centres in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, more are coming up as demand for Malkha fabrics grows.

The tremendous response to Malkha is a reflection of people’s feel and appreciation for its unique qualities – the swing, the drape, the ability to breathe, to absorb, to hold colour. The Malkha process plays a big role in imparting these qualities to the fabric. By handling the delicate cotton fibres gently, by avoiding the force and violence of conventional processing, it retains the springiness of the live fibres all the way into the cloth. To understand and appreciate how this is done, let us look at the Malkha cycle of spinning, weaving, dyeing and printing.