A disability is no impediment to creating the life you want, and Pitampura resident Ankur Gupta, 29, is a living example of this. Ankur lost his eyesight when he was two, owing to the atrophy of a vital nerve connecting his eye to cerebrum.
But he followed his passion for singing, and today, has not just made a name for himself but also teaches music to the economically weak and the disabled with a mission to empower them.
Born and brought up in Delhi, Ankur studied at DPS Rohini and St Stephen’s College. He started learning Hindustani music at age six, and later completed his Visharad from Prayag University, Prayagraj, in 2012.
“I am always grateful to my guru, the late Ustad Ameer Ahmad Khan of the Kirana gharana, who took me under his discipleship,” says Ankur, who is an officer with the State Bank of India. The singer “breathes music, day-in-day out” and believes, “if education is food for the mind, so is music for the soul.”
An artiste with Yuv Vani, All India Radio in ghazal and geet category, Ankur has performed at several national and international platforms, including the Buddha International Circuit, Greater Noida during the F1 Race event in 2010 and the Lions World Festival held in Kraków, Poland in 2019.
Over the years, he shared the stage with Sonu Nigam, Shafqat Amanat Ali, Richa Sharma and other eminent singers.
“On my concert tour to Algeria in 2013 (he was selected by the ICCR), where I was leading a troupe of 12 members and performing in different cities, a number of people came up on the stage and told me that they had flown down from other cities just to attend my concert. Such love from strangers is quite gratifying.”
Gupta founded Shadaj The Band in 2011 with fellow performer, percussionist Mohit.
“Shadaj comes from the first note of music, saa, which gives birth to the other six notes. Just like the name, our music gives birth to a new multidimensional fusion genre that is not confined to one style of music,” he explains.
With an aim to provide free music training to persons with disabilities, Ankur set up NGO Golden Shine Cultural Welfare Trust in 2018 with his friends. Over 100 students are currently pursuing various courses here. Significantly, there is no age limit for students.
“I want to ensure that no one is deprived of quality music training or faces the difficulties I did,” he says.
Better infrastructure and more inclusivity are among the many things that need to be done by the society and the government for the visually-challenged, feels Ankur.
“There have been times when event organisers preferred other artistes over me as they felt owing to my disability I was not ‘presentable’ on stage,” he says, his face awash with sadness.
“There is a need to create more performance opportunities for persons with disabilities. Many visually-impaired artistes are reluctant to take up music full-time owing to the limited scope of making a livelihood from it.”