This profile was prepared when Anjana Batra was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1989.
The New Idea
Since play is central to a child's world, it is his/her most potent realm of discovery more so, when a handicap makes even "learning to learn" a struggle. It is this simple insight that has prompted Anjana to develop toys designed to impart basic concepts to the disabled -- in the guise of fun. Her idea is especially timely since India's New Education Policy (NEP) now calls for integrating the disabled into mainstream schools. This, in turn, makes it urgent that the country develops and popularizes specialized teaching aids to facilitate such integration.Anjana began designing and producing toys/teaching aids for children without disabilities in 1979. A number of her creations have caught on. The National Science Museums purchased her science teaching aids and distributed them in a number of states. The mathematics kit manufactured by her unit is mandatory equipment under the new NEP. The national curriculum agency, NCERT, has also adopted some of her preschool materials for use in their early childhood learning centers in rural and tribal areas.Recently she's turned her focus to the even more demanding and generally ignored need to develop toys and aids for the one out of every 10 children who are handicapped.