Andhra Pradesh’s Dr. Sai Kaustuv Dasgupta has proven that disability is a matter of perception. A graphic designer, motivational speaker, author, singer and happiness coach, the 30-year-old has been chosen for the D-30 Disability Impact list for 2021. He is a beacon of hope for so many who are struggling with disabilities. He has managed to achieve so much, never once letting his wheelchair get in the way.
Dasgupta, was just one and half years old when he was diagnosed with a rare brittle bone disease called osteogenesis imperfecta which made his bones weak rendering him 90 percent disabled. “I used to love dancing, but the disease stopped me from it,” he says.
Born in Siliguri, West Bengal, Dasgupta suffered depression for six years owing to the criticalness of his disability. However, his parent’s unconditional, selfless support and motivation encouraged him to pursue his various passions.
“My parents never made me realise that I am less than other people. I was made to believe that I am special and I can do much better than others,” Dasgupta expresses his gratitude towards his parents and younger brother, who has been very supportive and helps him in chores that need physical movement, like eating, brushing, shifting from bed to wheelchair and wheelchair to bed.
With an interest in designing, he started acquiring skills in graphic designing from his only functioning finger. With time, he became so good at it that he managed to fetch designing projects not only from India but across the globe. Currently, he is working for a multinational IT company as a graphic designer.
Apart from graphic designing, Dasgupta loves singing and writing, and has even recorded many albums and has won the Best Child singer Award “Dishari”. He is trained under Dr. Shila Dasgupta, his mother and later from Smt. Kumudini Mundkur who belongs to Bhendi bazaar Gharana in Hindustani classical music. He is a versatile singer and a composer too, having penned over 250 compositions. His music covers are very famous and shared by Shreya Ghoshal, A.R. Rahman and other legendary singers.
After fighting depression, he began writing his first book on his life to help others. Titled, ‘My Life, My Live, My Dear Swami’ the book was published in 2015 and has sold more than 4000 copies, and has even been translated into many languages. The book even garnered appreciation from India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
An inspiration to many, people love him for his positivity, and take positive guidance from him. Popularly referred to as the ‘coach of happiness’, he guides differently-abled people to be happy. His clients for happiness and motivational sessions are not only from India but also from across the globe, including those from corporates and PhDs.
“Although I spend much effort and time helping people to have a life full of peace and happiness, I generally don’t charge anything for my sessions. It gives me immense pleasure to see smiles on others’ faces,” adds Dasgupta. He is the fourth global icon for his leadership qualities, after Helen Keller, Stephen Hawking and Srikanth Bolla.
Also, a recipient of Mastery Award 2017 by Cavin Kare and Ability Foundation, People’s Choice Award 2018 by Dr. Batra’s Foundation, he managed to go for a special wheelchair-accessible trip to Goa after winning the All-India Wheelchair Wanderlust Competition in 2016, where he met with the Commissioner and his inputs on accessibility have been published in government handbook.
This year, a USA-based global enterprise that rebrands disability through the power of the community has named Dr. Sai Kaustuv Dasgupta from India as one of the honorees for their D-30 Disability Impact List 2021. This also happens to be the 31st anniversary of the enactment of the American Disability Act, Diversability,
The D-30 Disability Impact List is a global list honouring 30 disabled individuals who are leaders and are making huge differences. Dasgupta was selected among 300 nominations across 13 countries. By representing India, he has become a catalyst for continuing to advance disability inclusion, leadership, and diverse representation at the global level.
While showing gratitude to his parents, younger brother and other family members, Dasgupta says that all the parents and family members who have a disabled person in the family should be more compassionate and keep motivating them so that they can muster the courage to face social stigma associated with disabled community.
“If people like us are encouraged, we can do much better in life. As we progress, the social stigma also fades as people begin appreciating the achievements of disabled people,” he confirms that recognitions can break the stigma associated with the disabled people. He also suggests disabled people should not confine themselves in a corner of a room, “Get out and do something unique as you are more special than others.”
While talking about the future plan, Dasgupta says that he is planning to do more activities to spread awareness in society, he has a plan to manifest his virtual community into reality and also wants to write another book soon to inspire others. Moreover, he also wants to travel to other parts of India and the world to help more people like him to be happy, motivated and transform their life.
This story is submitted by Bilal Khan and edited by Alfea Shaikh.