Even as advertisements bombard us with the virtues of infinite choice and extol the benefits of instant shopping, an IIT Delhi post-graduate from Kerala is trying to spread the message of ahimsa through toys made from waste.
Subid Ahimsa has been conducting classes and spreading the idea of ‘Ahimsa toys’ in schools and other children’s institutions in Kerala and Tamil Nadu for the last five years.
“We have a culture of destroying what is unwanted. We kill our enemies, whom we find a threat to the nation. In the same way we just burn away what is not needed for us. By recycling waste materials into kids’ toys I want to spread the idea of ahimsa, that destruction is not a solution,” Subid tells The News Minute.
Subid, who hails from Valancherry in Malappuram district, has thus far spread his message in about 300 institution in Kerala and TN.
“In our education system, children are forced to learn something in the way they are taught. The system considers children ignorant. Not only the education system, but all the public policies here are also forced upon us. Instead of this, children should be given a space to study, a space that lets them learn. Though ahimsa toys I also want to teach that,” Subid says. His fondest dream is of a generation overflowing with creative ideas, rather than stuffed with textbook knowledge.
Paper fans, puppets, flutes made of straw, magic paper wands, spinning toys, and flying toys, are just some of the things Subid makes to spread his message.
After he completed his studies in 2003, Subid worked in a number of firms till 2010. Then, he discovered Arvind Gupta, a pioneer in making toys out of trash. Learning from his website and his videos, Subid ventured into the field.
“My aim is to spread ahimsa and give a vision to the coming generation of living socially responsible and creative lives. I get a good response from children, that encourages me to move forward,” Subid says.
He has very clear ideas on what education should do for children, and how to judge its merits. “Through education, children should get some minimum knowledge about everything. They should have a relationship with nature. They should know what is wrong and right. If they don’t get all this through education, then there is no use in it,” he says.
A key aspect of people’s thinking that Subid wants to change is how things are valued and judged useful or useless.
“We have to realize the usefulness of the things we throw away. Everything can be useful. Instead of destroying trash, we just have to think for a while,” Subid says.
Subid also uses his toys to talk about ideas of alternate education, “Let the kids ask questions, let them enjoy the liberty to learn. There are educational institutions today that can be compared to jail,” Subid smiles.
Such institutions, Subid says, simply close the doors on children’s creative abilities.
He advocates an alternate educational system, he says, because he did not learn any of the values he holds dear today from his own experience of formal education.
Subid has been running a campaign called ‘Come with trash and go back with toys’ through his Facebook account. He also conducts classes in schools of various kinds, from state government schools to international schools. In most cases, he doesn’t accept remuneration for his teaching work.
“We are trapped in so-called development. Through development nature is being overwhelmed by pollution. This is a small attempt to go against that,” he says.