M A I N   N E W S

National Disability Day
Ad whiz who broke the sound barrier
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 3
On certain lives, the curtains will never fall. Charu Dutta’s is one such life. Born into silence, as a child suffering bilateral sensorineural loss of hearing, Charu has made much of the little things he had.

He may have never heard a sound or uttered a word in his life, but he makes music with images and colours, bringing slumbering advertising ideas to life. So the next time you look at the attractive packaging of Horlicks, Boost, Nutri Bar and Foodles; the crunchy “Kurkure” or the stylish State Bank of India’s credit card, you know whose brain is behind those images - it is Charu Dutta’s.

For his brilliance at creative design, this 43-year-old art and production service manager with the advertising giant JWT, Gurgaon, today bagged the national award for “the best employee” in the category of speech and hearing-impaired. He collected the citation from President Pratibha Patil who, on the occasion of World Disability Day, gave away awards in 17 categories. Charu was the only winner from Haryana.

On the stage, he could say nothing of his achievement, so he simply gestured to his mother, Deep who, for all these years, has sheltered her disabled son like a rock. “I never knew that fever and rash of half a day during my pregnancy would do this to my first born. It was only after he was nine-month-old that we realised that he could not hear.

“We had lost precious time and now restoration of his residual hearing was difficult. For all practical purposes, Charu was deaf. This fact shattered me until one day he toddled his way up to me, wiping tears off my eyes. That was when I took it upon myself to encourage my child. Never even once did I regret having him,” the proud mother told The Tribune.

For Charu, the road to Vigyan Bhavan, where he collected his award today, has not been easy. As he gestures: “It was tough but I enjoyed the journey.” Forced out of a normal school he attended in the Delhi neighbourhood, Charu did his schooling up to Class VI from Balwant Rai Mehta Vidyabhavan, a special school near Moolchand Hospital.

His parents, meanwhile, became regulars at the AIIMS speech and rehabilitation centre where experts taught them not to use the sign language with the child. “It was a new thing we were hearing. We unlearned the sign language after doctors told us to behave normally with Charu. We took auditory training and taught our son the look of words. It took ages of hard work, but was all worth the while,” Charu’s father Keshav Dutta remarks. He, however, says he was lucky to have a gifted child who excelled in drawing that later helped him find a seat in the Applied Arts Department of Delhi College of Arts. From the campus to JWT, it did not take Charu long.

Today, as a successful advertising professional, he helps his company brand products and attract customers with images that have greater recall value than words. Ask the man how he polishes his art and he leads us to Amita, his wife and his partner in disability. Together the two have built a world of dreams where noise pollution has no room.





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