A group of young men greet visitors at the IDL (Indian Disability League) Foundation in Mathikere, exuding confidence as they play a number of instruments. They render a beautiful Kannada classical number, maintaining precision of their musical notes, both vocal and instrumental.
The IDL Blind Band prides itself on having done more than 500 shows and rendered more than 1,500 songs in different languages. “We have a professional musical troupe trained over a period of seven years. Apart from professionals, we have 20-25 college students learning music out of the 60 students present here,” says P.K. Paul, founder, IDL. Started in 2003, the NGO is ten years old and launched the blind band in 2006.
One of their recent performances included a 12-hour marathon show at Town Hall on January 10th as a tribute to Sachin Tendulkar. “It should be a world record, we have applied for official confirmation,” Paul says with pride. They are planning to attempt a 24-hour feat on April 24th, which happens to be the birthday of the late actor Rajkumar as well as Sachin Tendulkar.
“Through music we want to bring about social transformation. Music has no language, religion or culture. It transcends social barriers,” says Paul; with his troupe having performed at venues such as Central Jail, old age homes and cancer hospitals, and for people such as the North Karnataka flood victims, cricketers and the who’s who of the State, he believes they can reach out to people and form an instant connect with music.
More than music
In addition to its musical activities, IDL offers a course in spoken English, computer training, and a Braille resource library.
The foundation also provides aids and appliances to the visually impaired and runs a free hostel for the visually impaired that can house up to 80 students.
The IDL has helped over 30,000 visually impaired people in the State and is the recipient of the Karnataka State Award and the Kempe Gowda Award. They have spearheaded eye donation campaigns and helped with education fees for blind students.
Some of their projects in the pipeline include the opening of a college and old age home for the visually impaired and a hostel for visually challenged girls, to commemorate their 10th anniversary.
“Any [visually impaired] person should be able to walk in, have a cup of tea and biscuits and have a shower here. We’re trying to get such infrastructure and resources,” says Paul.