Founder of Atulyakala
Strengthening a discouraged community was way beyond fulfi llment of a dream for Smriti Nagpal, it was a portal providing hope and sustenance to many. By Yugansha Malhotra
Millions of people in India are hearing impaired, thus accounting for the largest number of disabled people in our country. Such a number would mean the attention to them must be huge, but that’s rarely the case. There is serious lack of possibilities, effective policies and opportunities for people diagnosed with such impairment. Since the only way they can communicate is via writing or sign language, communication proves to be a daunting inhibitor for the people coupled with lack of education. In such plight, Smriti Nagpal aims to empower them by effectively bridging the gap of communication and also by providing livelihood to them, via her for-profit organization, Atulyakala.
Of late, she has been acknowledged by BBC as ‘BBC’s 100 inspirational women of 2015’, for her platform Atulyakala, which aims at upliftment of various deaf artists. Atulyakala is a social enterprise working on different parallels. They create products that are designed by deaf artists, they undertake client projects working as a design studio as well. With the aim of creating awareness regarding sign language and conducting empowering workshops for such impaired people, Smriti Nagpal initiated a wave of upliftment for hearing impaired people, via Atulyakala.
Being a subject that is not touched by many, Smriti Nagpal did face difficulties, but she sailed past them with valor, dignity and hard work. She was just 16 when she volunteered for National Association of Deaf (NAD), which was her way of aiding the society. She felt strongly for hearing impaired people, as both her siblings were afflicted with the same, sign language has always been the way she could communicate with them, and she did it diligently with all her strength, courage and love. While pursuing her degree in business administration, she came across an audition in a TV channel. They needed an interpreter of sign language for their news program and Smriti was their choice. So while she was studying, she became responsible for the Hearing Impaired Morning Bulletin for the Doordarshan Network.
Atulyakala has been incepted with Smriti’s dream of providing aid and comfort to deaf people, it is sealed with the stamp of hope and trust of such people in her organization, it also highlights the struggles faced by them in the society and traverses the gap that inhibits them from earning a livelihood. Atulyakala is a dream that should be dreamt by many.
WHAT WAS THE REASON FOR THE INCEPTION OF ATULYAKALA?
I was always inclined towards sign language and deaf culture, then I met Mr. amit . Who has done his masters in fine arts, and he told me how he is working in an NGO and making paper folders. It triggered me, and I started meeting a lot of artists and realised how they lack opprtunities . That’s how atulyakala started. I was always allured to art and aesthetics and definitely sign language. Despite of being a management student, I managed to choose art as my passion and work, and decided to showcase the talent of deaf artists via their products.
WHAT OR WHO INSPIRES YOU THE MOST?
My dad will always be my first hero, and apart from him the person who influences me would be, Frida Khalo.
WHERE DO YOU SEE ATULYAKALA IN NEXT FIVE YEARS?
I see it extremely big and all over the world, I see Atulyakala expanded with many people, expansion in our product line and also geographically expansion would be the aim. I think we will have a good number of artists and a whole extremely creative and colourful big office where we have all the departments like design, art, printing, management, finance etc managed by deaf people. And we see our brand selling many new products in the future and prosper into a fun loving brand that fosters creativity of deaf artists and is sign language friendly.
A MESSAGE FOR THE READERS :
I would want to tell the readers that dreams are important. I feel my life was shaped by all the dreams I saw and wrote about. One should never be scared of sharing their ideas and visions with others, even if someone copies the idea, the heart and soul of the idea will always be yours. Nobody can replicate what you aim to do with your dream.
Keep dreaming and just always focus how you can change those dreams into action plans. And trust me, life will be beautiful.