Changing the landscape for the differently-abled community one smile at a time. Dr Sai Kaustuv is our RARE Inspiration
A happiness coach and motivational speaker, freelance graphic designer, world record holder, TEDx speaker, singer, music composer and wheelchair warrior, Sai Kaustuv’s love of life and living is infectious and he is using his voice and talents to drive change for all differently-abled citizens in his home country of India
by Nicola Miller
Aged just three and a half months, Dr Sai Kaustuv suffered his first bone fracture. Throughout his life, he has since gone on to experience over 50 fractures, or “surprises” as Sai refers to them. Sal lives with a rare condition named osteogenesis imperfecta. “I was born with suffering—suffering was my soul mate,” Sai says. Despite this, Sai has dedicated his life to proving how much can be achieved when you alter the way you look at your life. At a young age, he was encouraged by his parents to express himself in the creative arts, and he proved to be a proficient dancer.
When his health deteriorated, undeterred he found a new passion. “I had to give up my childhood passion for dance and instead take up singing. My mother was a trained classical singer so performing was in my blood.”
In his teenage years, Sai’s health continued to deteriorate and by 2009 he was confined to a bed and his small room became the extent of his world. “I felt alone, upset and depressed. There was no sun, moon and my life became very black and white. I didn’t know what to do; this one room was my life during this time.”
In his more difficult times Sai was determined that his disability would not defeat him, “I realised—if you change your outlook, everything will be perfect”.
New beginnings came with a shift of view
Sai explained that this simple shift in his mindset allowed him to dare to see another life. “I had a strong desire to bring colour to my life; I still had one good hand and I decided to put it to good use.”
Fired with a desire for his life to be more than this one room, Sai worked hard and taught himself graphic design skills, going on to secure international clients.
“I have never entertained the word ‘no’, and I wasn’t about to start now. I had been forced to discontinue my studies, dancing and singing, but I realised I could still do something of great value. Operating the mouse with my left hand and with the use of only one finger I self-trained as a designer,” Sai explained.
In 2015, Sai’s six-year struggle of being bedridden came to an end. “I came out of my small room in the year 2015. When I saw myself in a new electric wheelchair, I was a completely different person.”
Along this journey, by his side at all times were his parents Kaushik and Shila Dasgupta. They never gave up or saw him as “less than” and they encouraged his creativity and passions.
“My parents are my living angels. It is their greatness that made me see the world the way I do.” Sai also draws a lot of strength and support from his younger brother Kushal.
According to Sai, “My smile is my strength—I love to smile. Miracles happen in the lives of people who choose to create that miracle. I chose this miracle and made it happen in my own life to inspire many more like me to choose to be the best version of themselves in their lives.”
“My smile is my strength.”
In addition to being an accomplished graphic designer with a global client base, Sai is also a happiness coach and motivational speaker, a TEDx speaker, music composer, writer and wheelchair warrior.
He has used his voice to inspire millions of people with live and online motivational talks. Sai also uses his influence to speak with global leaders, scholars, medical, corporate and industry professionals on the topic of equity and access for the disabled community. At a local level, Sai is on a personal drive to bring positive awareness and education to his home country of India where he hopes to see accessibility become more of an accepted norm, rather than a token nod to inclusivity. “It is not a favour being granted to us: this is a legal requirement and obligation”, and Sai is set on making sure everyone knows it.
Millions have joined Sai in his community #HappinessUnlimited which strives to make this planet a better place where we all live in harmony, bliss and peace. Sai is a champion for disability rights in India as well as an influential personality on the global stage, leading him to be recognised amongst other global Icons.
Empowered by the love of his family Sai has gone on to receive love from millions of people globally, for whom his messages of resilience, love and happiness resonate. Undeterred by the physical constraints of his condition, he has strived to be the best version of himself and he now dedicates his life to empowering others to do the same.
Sai is an example of what can be achieved with a loving and encouraging family holding your hand, who believe in you and allow you to flourish in every way possible. To leave the final words to Sai:
“Always have the attitude for gratitude. Know your capabilities and your dreams, and then be true to both. Think out of the box and do something extraordinary.”
Thank you to Iftikhar Zla for his passionate collaboration and contribution on this article helping us power the voice of rare disease in India. Please visit the Organization for Rare Disease India: https://ordindia.org
This article was first published in ISSUE 011, Spring 2019 – RARE Families