Extremely happy to know that Shri Arvind Gupta has been declared as a recipient of Padmashri for the year 2018! This is an apt recognition of this yogi who has been an evangelist of science popularization among children, using the most unexpected commodity: trash! His ‘Toys from trash’, series has over 500 toys which can be made easily by learners (of all ages!), to ENJOY the science hidden in it. As he says always, ‘Don’t complicate the joy of playing with a toy by loading it with scientific principle, let the child discover it on their own’.
He is a living legend, and I was fortunate to spend time with him at his lab at IUCAA, in Pune University! We had gone there to video shoot the toy making process and releasing them for hand held devices. During the shoot, (using our high-end cameras), he was inquisitive in knowing the medium, and diligently wrote down the technical specifications of the equipment.
Later, when we were back, we completed the post production and uploaded the videos. After a while, I saw that those videos had a healthy number of viewers. Excited, I mailed him a screenshot of the website. He sent me a link for his website, where he had created videos of over 200 toys, during that period, and the video aggregation website was showing a viewership more than 6 digits! Moreover, he did not forget to give credit to his team (Dr. Vidula and Ashok). That was an important lesson to learn!
“The best thing a child can do with a toy is break it” – Arvind Gupta
I requested him to speak a few lines in the film, where we wanted to show the ICT application for his website. He agreed immediately, and we decided to start the shoot. Before any other plan came up, he sat on the ground in front of his office, and said, ‘You can start, I am comfortable!’. Similar experience was when he visited us at our IIT residence. He was visiting the campus to accompany his daughter, who appeared for some exam, and the KVIIT was the center. I requested him to come home, instead of spending the entire time in the hot sun, and he agreed. He entered the house, and saw my daughter (7 year old that time). He instantly told us that he is going to talk ONLY to my daughter now. Literally, next 2 hours, he was showing all sorts of toy making to her, and both had a gala time.
My daughter learnt the ‘ship-and-cap’ story, and presented it every possible gathering! After one such successful ‘performance’, she actually wrote back to him and thanked him for teaching such nice story! He promptly responded! He also sent a DVD containing best animated films, when he learnt about Kaumudi!
Recently, I contacted him when I was leading a project in science popularization among speech and hearing disabled. We planned to create videos using the ‘sign language’, and chose Arvind Gupta Toys as the content. The power of science toys was once again evident, when we were showing the video to the science teachers!
Wishing him a healthy life!!!