The Game of 36

Children Toy Foundation (CTF) is a Mumbai-based Non Government Organisation, established in 1982 by Devendra Desai that aims to educate children for acquiring real skills, beyond reading and writing, developing positive attitude and to instill a sense of pride in them.

While speaking to Padmesh Prabhune - CSR Times, Desai elaborated his future plans and his Project Game of 36: Connect India. Excerpts..

Q: If you could brief about the concept Children Toy Foundation?

A: The concept Children Toy Foundation is to

  • To educate children through Play, beyond reading and writing, so as to help them acquire real skill and develop positive attitudes in their life.
  • To instill a sense of Pride within the young ones and further boost their confidence and hone their latent talents using potential force of toys and games.
  • Also to see that through play they learn virtues like sportsman spirit, discipline, patience, honesty, truth and learn to accept defeat gracefully and develop the spirit of cooperative competitiveness.

Q: How did you get the idea of Toy library?

A: History is that first library in India was established in 1966 at Delhi by Share Your Toys Foundation. The 2nd library was Chacha Nehru Toy Library, (CNTL)  in Mumbai which came up in 1967. I saw CNTL in early 1982. I had volunteered for six months and then decided to start my own toy library

Q:When was the first toy library formed?

A: As said, after being with CNTL I was inspired to start one. I established Children Toy Foundation on October 2, 1982. However I was quite naïve then and honestly had no idea about registration process and legalities. Also I did not anticipate it to become a (big) NGO as such. I had to struggle for funds and finally our first library was launched on 1st January 1984. We called it ‘Khilona Ghar’ then at Prarthana Samaj, Mumbai. Later, I registered Children Toy Foundation with Charity Commissioner in 1986. Interestingly this was reported at that time as well in Vritachitra, a program telecasted by Door Darshan.

Q: Since then you are running the Toy library ?

A: Yes..CTF is instrumental in helping and guiding to setup 298 toy/game libraries covering 11 states and 2 territories since then.

Q:  What are your other projects?

A: Besides guiding similar minded NGOs and other aspirants to set up toy/game libraries CTF has two play centers called ‘Khelvigyan’ static projects at Mumbai and Baroda

We have 4 mobile play vans called as LAFF vans (Let’s All have Fun Frolic). We have named them as Nanha Munna Express, LAFF van, LAFF Excel and Toy express.  These vans are plying in Mumbai and Allahabad covering 32 municipal schools and 20 village schools helping  to propagate the toy library project. Most of these Vans visit 5 hospitals pediatric wards to amuse children with stories, puppets , toys and games.During vacations or when schools are closed we take summer camps. We conduct inter school, inter corporate, inter college Mind and Fun games contest namely Beyond Games and Play for Peace.

Q:   Are you associated with any schools and / or NGO’s?

A: We cover 33 Municipal schools in Mumbai and Baroda and 20 village schools at Allahabad. Also we invite elite schools for inter school contests. We go to Mumbai Mobile Crèche centers in holidays regularly since 2000. We have helped to set up toy/game libraries to Sunbeam, Door step School, Humanity Foundation, Hamara  Foundation, Aniket Children home, Swadhar-Pune, Each one Teach One, Yuva, Helpers Of The Handicapped, Kolhapur, Shantraba school, institute like IL & FS, Arlabs, Excel Industries, Vidyarambam Trust Chennai, Rotary clubs, Innner wheel clubs, Lions Clubs, Giants Groups etc.

Q: Are you planning any new project?

A: Yes, we are planning and in fact working on our project called Game of36: Connect India

Q: What is Game of 36: Connect India?

A: let me explain Game of 36.  We are planning to donate 36 mobile Toy vans across country in 36 states and territories involving 36 corporate which could be inaugurated by 35 CMS. The one at Delhi could be inaugurated by our Prime Minister.

Q: Would it be for Guinness Book of World Records?

A:  I don’t know. It could be.. Jokes apart, as you know we are already covered in ‘The Limca Book of Records 1998’ under Human Story - (page no. 49).  But I don’t work for records.

Q: What are your plans for future?

A: We want to establish more mobile vans and village toy/game libraries. We also want to research, develop and revive old games. We are also looking forward to develop a diploma course on how to conduct toy/game libraries. Also once we achieve Game of 36: Connect India, we plan for Interstate contest, national level contests in Mind & Fun games could also take place. We wish to make it for SAARC countries could also participate and idea can further grow into International Olympics in mind and fun games for children. Basically  the idea was acknowledged & acclaimed in  1993, world conference jointly hosted by International Toy Library Association(ITLA) and International Association for Child Right to Play(IPA) at Melbourne, Australia.

The Agenda is to reach out to children as fast as possible and to generate jobs for educators/teachers and also to boost Toy Industries in India, as after the vans we intend to set up libraries in villages also. Generally we use 36 as a figure to show diversity but this 36 figure will be a magic figure uniting India.

Q: How do plan to arrange the funds? Has any corporate appreciated the project?

A: As of now we are speaking to many people around us. It is working on word of mouth with some corporate and most of them are lauding it. We are very optimistic about the participation as under 2% CSR spending plan corporate can adopt one/more projects.

Q:  What are the benefits to the corporate? Does it get any Tax benefits?

A: Yes it does. Recently National Committee for Social and Economic Welfare, Dept of revenue, Government of India has approved our project under section 35 AC of IT Act and now 100% tax exemption is available to the tune of 5.84 crores. If we meet this target soon, which we can hope for the expansion can be granted to the required extent.


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