February 10, 2008

Personal Library of Arvind Gupta

Arvind Gupta Toys. This is the name of the personal library of Arvind Gupta which is available on line at Arvindguptatoys.

Who is Arvind Gupta? Well those who had been watching the UGC programmes on Dordarshan Network or presently watch Gyandarshan, they would have definitely watched his programmes. A Kadar clad lanky, broad headed and bearded person has been showing to the rural children how to make experiments with commonly found items. If one can remember, then recollect a person who had been using cardboard, pins, safety pins, glass of water, bottle straws etc to perform the general experiments in Physics which form the part of +2 syllabus even.

I suggested this site to one of my colleague who is professor of Physics. He himself is a highly versatile personality. One can just watch his lessons on Physics with amazement. He has used flash software to demonstrate the lessons on light, conduction, electricity current and many such items. He has also developed lessons in the field of biology explaining numerous process and diagrams which has been produced with the help of a Botany scholar who has recently completed his doctorate degree. After learning about the site of arvind gupta and you tube resources, one day he came back exulting with great happiness because he had filled his laptop with many live demonstration of topics in Physic. I casually remarked that many of them are available on the site of Arvind Gupta also. He retorted back that along with You Tube contents, the whole of Arvind Gupta site has been dumped on his laptop. He was beaming with energy as he felt that he could now show an active experiment virtually on every topic which he had been teaching undergraduate of science. This is what the Arvind Gupta Toys are all about.

However, being a history teacher, how I am interested in this site. Well, two of my posts, one on E. H. Carr and other on D. D. Kosambi, are based on the contents available on this site.

Then who is this Arvind Gupta? I straightway quote the whole citation on him which runs as follows:

“Shri Arvind Kumar Gupta, after graduating from IIT Kanpur, in 1975, joined TELCO, Pune and worked there for a few years. In 1978, he took one year’s study leave from TELCO to work with the grassroot village science teaching programme for children in the tribal district of Hoshangabad, Madhya Pradesh.
While working in Hoshangabad, he developed many useful low-cost teaching / science teaching aids using locally available materials. The possibilities of using ordinary things for doing science and recycling modern junk into joyous products appealed immensely to children. Shri Gupta’s first book “Matchstick Models
and other Science Experiments” was translated into 13 Indian languages by various Popular Science groups and sold more than half a million copies. His science models and toys were widely featured in daily newspapers and magazines across the country. Since then he has written 10 books and translated over 45 books on science, environment and education. He has conducted science workshops for children and teachers in over twelve hundred schools across the country. Shri Arvind Gupta has presented over 70 TV
programmes on science based fun activities, innovative toys and teaching aids on the national television. These films have been made by the NCERT and the UGC countrywide classroom. He was also featured as the Green Guru on the popular TV programme titled “Living on the Edge”.

Shri Arvind Gupta’s outstanding contribution in designing science teaching aids for young children has been recognized by several international organisations such as UNESCO, UNICEF, International Toy Research Association, Halmstad University, Boston Science Centre, MIT (Media Lab), Walt Disney Imagineering and Research, Auhof Rehabilitation Centre, Hilpolstien, Germany and the International Play Association, Finland. As a UNESCO consultant on science education he has been invited to share his experiences in science teaching with teachers of several developing countries. He has been actively associated with the Bombay Natural History Society, Conservation Society of Delhi, Spastic Society of North India and the Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti. He is an advisor to the National Book Trust on popular science books. He has received several awards for his outstanding contributions. These include Eklavya Award (1982), the inaugral National Award for Science Popularisation amongst Children (1988), Hari Bhau Mote Award of the Marathi Vigyan Parishad (1988), a special award given by the National Association for the Blind for designing teaching aids for pre-school blind children (1991), Granthali award for his book Khel (1992), Ruchi Ram Sahni Award for science popularisation (1993) and the Hari Om Ashram Award by the UGC (1995).”

Gutenberg of India: Gutenberg of India, is the remark made by a reputed newspaper on the website of Arvind Gupta. Well it is not that. It has rather its own feature and contents.

The site as such is not attractive. However, the main page has three main section consisting of links. They are viz Books, Toys and Films. All the three sections can give there own introduction if one explore each link. However, I here point out the book section. The Book section has further four sections which are English, Hindi, Marathi and Combinations. Those who are interested in Hindi literature or Sahitya, they may explore Hindi and Combinations section. They may take months together to explore the literature available on those two links. The English Books section in itself is divided into subsections. The main sections are : Books by Arvind Gupta, Books on Maths/Science Activities, Books on Education, Books on Environment/Anti-War/Peace, Isaac Asimov’s “Science Fact” Masterpieces (Virtually whole of the work), Children’s Books, English Translations of Russian Classics, Newberry Medal Winners, Inspiring Books, Books by Laurie Baker, Science Comic/ Picture Books by Prof. Jean-Pierre Petit, Books by D. D. Kosambi, and some secondary links.

It is under the links “Inspiring Books” and “Books by D. D. Kosambi” hat the students of history may find some old books which can be used as secondary sources. These books are available in form of Zip files or PDF files. They are easily accessible, a feature which you do not find even on Digital Library of India, which aims at bring one million books online.

On the whole, as per one newspaper report, there are 7000 books available on this site. Remember that online Liberty Library has 1000 books and Gutenberg has by now 20000 books. In any case, apart from the contribution to the popularization of science in India, Arvind Gupta’s site is an example of best ICT source and model which can be developed in the field of learning, teaching and knowledge sharing.

Source of Photograph: A social Website promoted by Tina Munim Ambani (link will appear soon)

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