Breaking barriers: disability couldn’t deter Sai Kaustuv Dasgupta from achieving milestones
Sai Kaustuv Dasgupta (26) has a multifaceted career — graphic designer, author, singer, and happiness coach. The brittle bone disease which made him 90 percent disabled could not break his spirit and after fighting depression for six years, Sai is today on a mission to spread smiles.
“In my childhood, I used to dance. One day, doctors told my parents that dance was not my cup of tea. At that time, I couldn’t understand that I had a rare disease which would restrict me from leading a normal life. My first fracture happened when I was just three and a half months old. Today, after 26 years, when I look back, I feel my birth itself was special and unique. I was special by birth,” says Sai Kaustuv Dasgupta.
Sai has osteogenesis imperfecta (also known as the brittle bone disease) since birth and reveals that he has suffered more than 50 fractures so far. He hails from Siliguri, West Bengal and lives in Puttaparthi, Andhra Pradesh. In 2009, he discovered his passion for designing using two fingers of his left hand. Today, he is an international graphic designer working for global clients through US-based eMembler.
“I am sincerely grateful to Kaustuv for his hard work and patience and above all the top-notch work that he has delivered to our client,” adds Pratima Rao, CEO & Co-Founder, Compellink & eMembler.
Whether it is discovering his passion or developing the ability to see life with a new perspective, Sai owes it to those six years (2009-2015) when he confined himself to a small room.
“I used to be terribly depressed. But I slowly started to realise that if I break down, what about the other differently abled people struggling to break the barriers? How will they get motivated? Then I started developing a desire to change the situation fully,” adds Sai.
Understanding osteogenesis imperfecta and its impact
Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) affects bone formation and strength, leading to frequent breakage and multiple fractures.
The Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation defines OI as a complicated, variable, and rare disorder. It further highlights that a person with this life-long disorder has a fragile skeleton and many other body systems also get affected. It is caused by a mutation (change) in a gene that affects bone formation, bone strength, and the structure of other tissues. Experts reveal that globally one in every 20,000 to 50,000 are estimated to be suffering from OI.
Besides his multifaceted career, Sai has also won many awards, such as the Dishari Award for West Bengal’s Best Child Singer, Mastery Award 2017 by CavinKare and Ability Foundation. In 2016, Sai went for a special wheelchair accessible trip to Goa after winning the All India Wheelchair Wanderlust Competition. He also penned down a book, My Life, My Live, My Dear Swami which has been translated into many languages and also received appreciation from Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Though Sai is pursuing many dreams, he believes that his main ambition is to make people discover real happiness and transform lives. As a happiness coach, Sai has conducted motivational and positive sessions for corporate workers, PhD scholars in India as well as in international countries.
What inspires the inspirer?
Today, with his positive spirit and smile, Sai is ready to take on new challenges. He doesn’t feel that being born with physical difficulties makes him different from others. Right from his childhood, Sai has exhibited strong resilience and self-belief which have become his main strengths.
Though Sai is confined to a motorised wheelchair, his tales of fortitude have travelled the world, making him the fourth global icon for his leadership qualities, after Helen Keller, Stephen Hawking and Srikanth Bolla.
“I don’t care if somebody talks about my disability. I have happily accepted my life the way it is. Today, when my relatives and friends ask me questions about my health, I reply them boldly that I’m fully fit and fine, maybe better than them. It’s because I am celebrating life with greater confidence,” says Sai.
After encountering some problems during his trips to Goa, Chennai and Bengaluru, Sai is now researching on improving accessibility for the differently abled and hopes to work for improving the existing facilities. Going ahead, he plans to conduct more awareness programmes to educate people and create an inclusive platform through which the specially abled people can contribute to the society.