Building an Early Foundation:
I grew up absurdly lonely, a product of cerebral palsy, 4
surgeries, 70 per cent movement restriction, and two incredible parents – who
never gave up on me even when they could. Growing up, I looked different,
talked differently, walked differently and because of my condition – I was
judged, mocked, laughed at, and I didn’t have a lot of people I could call
That’s where my obsession with people, relationships, and what drove
human beings, began. I spent many months in the hospital – and with death
looming over my head every time I entered the operating table, I found comfort
in the hospital staff and other patients around me and their company. Social
interaction was limited, I had to work hard to prove myself and become
I eventually started to understand
why people do what they do, what matters to them when they’re inches away from
death, and why, in the end, we’re all just striving to achieve our own
individual definitions of “normal”. From there, honestly, PR was a natural
I define PR as dealing with the crucial dynamics of deeper
connectivity with people across all sections of society. That’s what I did then
-- surrounded by people fighting death, struggling to outrun my loneliness, and
isolation- that’s what I do now. I understand human beings behind a brand,
create narratives, and then use my network to help them share why they do what
they do, their struggle to find their definition of “normal”, and how they’re
striving to make this world a better place through this struggle -- their
business, start-up, organization, and non-profit.
Beyond the Barricades:
It’s funny, but I did sit for jobs. But, sadly, during the
interviews, people cared less about how good I was at the job, the ideas I had,
or my qualifications. From the moment they laid eyes on me, their perception of
me was already created, even before I could say a single word. It’s not
entirely their fault either; the corporate world needs more inclusion and role
models to look up to with respect towards the differently-abled community.
That’s when I decided to open my own public relations company. The idea was, I
had to prove that I could do what anyone else could do, and my condition wasn’t
a disability -- so that someone else out there, facing the same, could hold on
to hope. That they could do what I do, today, tomorrow, and just because you
don’t fit into people’s definition of normal, doesn’t mean you’re bad at your
job or any less than someone else society would consider “normal”. Looking
back, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve taken.
Disability and Inclusion in the
The corporate world still needs more inclusion and role models to
look up to with respect to the differently-abled community. Most of us do not
fit into people’s definition of normal and the evolution of disability and
inclusion narrates this story, from ignorance to now; gradual, better
Taking from personal past experience, I was
rejected from 6 jobs, back in 2016. They told me for a job in marketing you
need to travel and interact with clients. It took a global pandemic for people
to realize that marketing can be done from behind the screens.
The most significant problems that
disabled people face are always accessibility and design. Job roles need to be
tailored to accommodate persons with disabilities. There are 21 types of people
with disabilities according to the RPWD Act 2016. Everyone has something to
bring to the table. The key here is to focus on the strengths of people.
A lot is yet to be done in this segment. The corporate world is
surely growing sensitive to differences. It
is now even easier to do that with technology at play. Hybrid and flexible work
models can be a blessing.
The Entrepreneurial Journey:
I am an advisor to and a member of several esteemed organisations
in various capacities such as Rotary International, Newspapers Association of
India (NAI), Public Relations Society of India (PRSI), International Human
Rights Organisation (IHRO), and Rotary Means Business (RMB), among many others.
My life has taught me that it is very important to give back to the community.
When you help someone, it always finds its way back to you. Besides, these
connections are necessary to engage in offline networking – which is a
fundamental part of growing one’s business.
Offline networking platforms can
provide opportunities to form business connections that can help in the
furtherance of one’s business. This helps grow the business, and also allows
you to give back to the community at large. That’s also why I’m the founder of the
Indian Disabled Entrepreneurship Forum, a not-for-profit to further the cause
of entrepreneurship in the disability sector – a cause close to my heart.
Sources of Powerful Lessons:
When I was about to finally start my
schooling, my mother, who was once a successful lawyer, quit her job
and single-handedly decided to brave every odd coming her way to
ensure my schooling and post-schooling education in the institutions for normal
children. She endured a lot of objection and backlash from the institutions and
people around her. They had suggested putting me in special institutions and being
done with it.
People even saw my education as a bad investment
but my mother’s extraordinary grit and resolve had endowed me with all the
help required to fortify me emotionally and instil in me the confidence that
would enable me to make a difference in the world.
Along the way I’ve realized that I was
never broken or needed fixing, whatever my physical abilities are but my mental
abilities were always on par with my peers, I was never in need of anyone’s
pity or sympathy.
It has always been about acceptance and inclusion.
I am disabled and that's not a bad thing. I found acceptance through my parents.
And so, they are the best mentors anyone can have. Support truly begins at home!
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