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Meet Three Musicians Whose Love For Music Overcame All Limitations!

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What happens when one pursues their dream?
How can a musician give back to their community?
Will you be able to play the guitar after losing your sight?
Where do all these Atypical Talents reside?

Music is a serious affair, it is an art that takes years to master and forever to perfect. One would say, you need all the help in the world, with immense precision, when trying to play the Harmonium, an ornament of Indian classical music, while singing legendary ghazal verses, or playing the lead and rhythm section of the evergreen guitar while adding vocals to it. Or when creating and producing one’s composition on the keyboard, let alone play it in front of a live crowd. Now if we tell you that there are three artists who are blind but have mastered all the musical instruments, from the guitar to the Tabla to the piano and the Harmonium!

Meet Kuldeep who hails from the hills of Himachal Pradesh, Dilip who has performed in 500+ shows, and Ritesh who can play Kishore Kumar’s tunes on the guitar with love. Limitations are only there in our mind and we need to clear them with our hard work and perseverance like these three brilliant artists.


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Kuldeep playing the table and mesmerizing the audience.

Hailing from Mandi, Himachal Pradesh, Kuldeep is not your typical musical talent. While most 23-year-olds would be attracted by pop and rock, Kuldeep finds his comfort in singing ghazals and bhajans. Being visually impaired from a very young age never seemed to affect Kuldeep in the pursuit of his Indian classical dream from the tender age of 3.

In-person, Kuldeep would seem like one of the most humble chaps you would ever meet, but on the stage, he isn’t shy about showing his musical prowess, whether it is on the harmonium or the Tabla. Having taken part in multiple musical competitions throughout his teens, Kuldeep slowly built his confidence and gained significant experience. While he finds peace in Indian classical, when asked to play or sing along any Bollywood song, you would be equally blown away by his performance. According to Kuldeep, music is a form of expression, and his intent for every performance is to spread love and joy to everyone listening.


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Dilip playing the keyboard at a local cultural event.

Coming to our second story, we travel to the hilltop city of Bidar in Karnataka to meet the multi-talented Dilip. Musical production and score composition are some of the most complex tasks from a musical point of view. It requires immense knowledge of different instruments, an ear for the perfect pitch and rhythm. Dilip might lack optical vision, but his musical sight encompasses vastness only some can understand, and his catalogue of over 1,000 compositions is a testament to that.

He has undergone western classical piano training and has passed the grade 5 exam in piano performance. In the Zillas near his hometown Kadvada, Dilip is a household name as he has performed in over 500 shows in his state. He specialises in bhajans and folk music, but his accomplishments just don’t end there.

Dilip loves giving back to the community that helped him grow to be the musical artist today and knows how important it is to do so, hence he has taken part in various social activities, the most significant being running a school for visually impaired children, free of cost, in Gandhi Ganz of Bidar, where he belongs. Between the numerous performances in different Zillas and social activities, Dilip can be found in his studio creating and mixing tunes for his next project.


To end our journey, we meet Professor Ritesh and his guitar. Ritesh grew up in the city of Delhi, and his love for music came at a very early age. He recalls starting music at the young age of 9, taking regular musical classes. Like every guitarist out there, Ritesh’s instrument was the love of his life and he shares a special connection with it. They say love is blind, but can you still love when you completely lose your sight? That might seem like a philosophical question but for Ritesh, that was the unfortunate reality.

At a young age, Ritesh had some complications regarding his sight, which he was aware of. But, until his teen years, it was very minor. Things started going rough with the start of his adolescence when Ritesh lost sight completely. Not being able to see his loved ones, or see his favourite book, or see his favourite colour was heartbreaking. The same applied to his guitar, but music had no boundaries, it didn’t discriminate like us humans do. And, that beauty of music helped Ritesh to overcome this new challenge.

Eventual JNU alumni, Ritesh kept pursuing academia as that is where his professional interest was, but Ritesh’s passion for music never dwindled. Even now, as an Assistant professor at the Institute of Home Economics, Delhi University, he is always ready to perform his next music gig. He specializes in Pahadi folk music and loves playing retro tunes of his favorite Kishore da, or Rahat Fateh Ali Khan.

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Until next time,
Your Atypical Buddy!

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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