TED Talk of the Day #002: Turning Trash into Toys

Arvind Gupta | INK Conference

This talk was among the 10 best TED talks compiled by Sir Ken Robinson (TED Talk of the Day #001).

One of Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous quotes is:

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?

If you agree, have you found out for yourself? Need clues on what you should be REALLY DOING WITH YOUR LIFE? One set of clues is in how deeply and clearly are you able to read the contemporary world around you.

Like Arvind Gupta discovered for himself. An IIT Kanpur graduate (1975 batch), he took an year off from his first job at TELCO (he decided he did not want to be a truck maker) to teach science to village children. Fast forward to future – he became India’s most famous Toy inventor and Science expert. The most recent recognition he received was the Padma Shri (2018).

He shares his reading of the political and social situation at that time in this snippet from the talk:

“The early ’70s, I was in college. It was a very revolutionary time. It was a political ferment, so to say — students out in the streets of Paris, revolting against authority. America was jolted by the anti-Vietnam movement, the Civil Rights movement. In India, we had the Naxalite movement, the Jayaprakash Narayan movement. But you know, when there is a political churning of society, it unleashes a lot of energy. The National Movement of India was testimony to that. Lots of people resigned from well-paid jobs and jumped into the National Movement. Now in the early ’70s, one of the great programs in India was to revitalize primary science in village schools.

There was a person, Anil Sadgopal, did a Ph.D. from Caltech and returned back as a molecular biologist in India’s cutting-edge research institute, the TIFR. At 31, he was not able to relate the kind of [unclear] research, which he was doing with the lives of the ordinary people. So he designed and went and started a village science program. Many people were inspired by this. The slogan of the early ’70s was “Go to the people. Live with them; love them. Start from what they know. Build on what they have.” This was kind of the defining slogan.

What is YOUR reading of the current economic, political and social turmoil? What revolution you would like to initiate?


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