Foreword to the Annual UNESCO Journal as the World Youth Ambassador for SDG Inclusive Education -2017-18.
(The article was originally published in the 'Blue Dot Journal' in August 2017.)
The Magic of Madness
‘Onus Aham Ahann… Onus Aham Ahann…Onus Aham Ahann’,
I chanted, a wide-eyed boy of 12 gazing the night skies of the new millennium, when a whole new World was born. Outside and within, me. – I’d spoken to myself in this surreal gibberish, since I was 5. In that moment, The mystery had fallen in Love with me, the mystery that the World was, the mystery that I was going to be.
Born with Dyspraxia & Synaesthesia, among other pleasantries I walk diagonally and people profiling usually envisages calculating body odours, behaviors and touch. Words are sumptuous, so while writing a rhyme, a watery mouth awaits to satiate itself by crafting a rich recitation (writing this piece, I salivate!).
I am different.
Often an impediment in tasks. A virtuous handicap.
But, I always believed that one need not be a handicap to be ‘different’. ‘Coz, everybody in this World is different. That’d be a World full of Handicaps/Disabled/Specially-abled men, women, transgenders keeping themselves off the red line of societal abandonment, only christening others as one.
After 29 years of ‘this-ability’, I now know, who needs help!
I was always a Rebel. Forcing my way in. But childhood was altogether a different ball game. So, after years of cold stares, routine underperforming, and social inelasticity, I eventually figured out that I was no good to the machinery of this World, and somehow not required. I felt one with - that dropped valency of chemical compounds, those vary numbers post the 3rd decimal place, that tiny appendix in your stomach, waiting to be of use, but makes itself heard as a painful rebel, only because the system no more acknowledged its worth. Be it by evolutionary choice or intelligent design. The wish to exist is a human trait.
And I am wired to be a Superhuman!
Thinking the opposite of what you think helps you become the opposite of what you’re becoming. For me, the resultant was nowhere near being a ‘disabled’. It was like the secret ingredient being found, the super power that lets you go beyond where the ‘beyond’ of human comprehension ends.
The advent of my religion called, Hope.
Creativity is the greatest knowledge, and one that can neither be learnt or taught, only explored, embraced and again let go of. Post a short stint at RBI, my first venture, Naked Colours was born
with the vision of ‘Creativity for Good’, the venture explored endangered civilizations in the tribal jungles of India and help preserve the culture affected by incessant socio-economic turmoil. The social business model of ‘Sarv Mangalam’ i.e. Good for All, divided the value derived into 3 parts (split among, the venture, the tribal artisans and to the next community that required help) and maintained sustainable growth along with holistic societal upliftment. In the six years of its existence, the model has helped create Hope in more than 35 clusters across Asia & Africa.
The travails with Creativity led to Ideas (patents in process) in the areas of Women Safety (The Pink Whistle Project - an affordable self-defence device and women safety mechanism), Marketing Information dissemination, sensory optical efficiency mechanisms and Social Development modelling.
Livemad, my recent initiative, strives to spread Hope where there is none. With behavioral psychology based counseling initiatives and the power of Sustainable Business planning, Livemad spreads actionable Inspiration and has touched lives of Women in flesh trade, victims of domestic abuse, war widows and artisans. Livemad also undertakes sessions on Alternative Intelligence, Creativity & Innovation with various ivy-league Institutions and the Corporate. Livemad’s ‘Life-Alive’ is a 24 hour helpline for people suffering from acute depression and suicidal tendencies, the helpline has helped more than 5000 people choose Life.
This issue on ‘Difference Learning’ by UNESCO-MGIEP requires a special mention of ‘The Invention School’, a learning initiative I undertook with 3 Institutions for specially-abled children. The focus of the initiative is to explore the expanse of a special mind beyond the boxing of instincts. The initiative has helped hone a NASA Astrophysicist at 21 (Asperger’s syndrome) and two playwrights aged 9 & 12 (Autistic) and a host of other abilities we, at this juncture, may not derive meaning out of, but surely explore and embrace.
The advent of Special Ability footprint depends upon 3 vital pillars.
1. Love : Family is the primal determinant of the well being of every mind. With a mind that is rarely understood by the narrow constructs of the society, Family is bestowed with the responsibility to provide faith and the platform to nurture and nourish a special mind. My Life remains indebted to my family that made me believe in fragile times and inspired me to go beyond to lead a Life that is as fulfilling as it can be.
2. Acceptance : On a societal and policy level, acceptance helps reassure a special mind that it is very much a part of the diaspora. The perception of the crowd needs a sea-change towards people with special-abilities. Arts & Culture play a huge role in strengthening ties along with Education systems that help coalesce intellects. Be it by widening learning atmospheres or reinventing knowledge delivery. The addition of the ‘alternative intelligentsia’ will only enrich the human race and not impede its growth, as normally presumed.
3. Opportunity : Almost 30% of World’s inventors, scientists, entrepreneurs, and artists are specially-abled. But, the road to their success is often harder than others. Thus, with an already compromised surrounding, it is difficult for them to unleash their full potential, and often results in Depression and lack of Hope. Reinventing talent measurement scales and incorporation of ‘creativity metrics’ can help provide a canvas that may one day, house a masterpiece.
The gibberish I spoke as a child is now a 200 syllable 700 lexicon rich language called ‘Satt’, and I still chant ‘Onus Aham Ahann’, meaning ‘I am chosen’.
I’m not a mistake. I’m a choice of this Universe.
Meaning the way I am meant to be.