Rampant digitisation in India has seen leaders, changemakers, and influencers emerge from the unlikeliest places and groups. The internet has become the ultimate leveller, propelling netizens to new frontiers.
For 20-year-old Sukhnidh Kaur, the biggest advantage to increased internet penetration is the ability to teach as well as learn. The youth activist, researcher, educator and Founder-Editor of digital platform Gifted India is a recent graduate of St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai.
She shares what irks her, makes her happy, and other general observations through music, creative illustrations, and poems over Instagram. And they resonate well with her over-31,000 followers.
Offline, Sukhnidh engages her fascination with behavioural science and economics; online, she blogs about the intersection between the two. She is always game for puzzles and reading, harbouring a deep love for non-fiction.
The Instagram adventure
Sukhnidh has gained all the right kind of attention on Instagram. And when the platform was rife with discussions around the #MeToo movement last year, her song, ‘one-minute masterclass on consent’, took off and caught the attention of mainstream media.
At the time, Sukhnidh and her sister, Harnidh Kaur—who has over 30,000 followers on Instagram herself—served as a medium to call out allegations. The stories that came out in the 10 days of that exercise left her traumatised and exhausted, and music became her way of venting it all out in a productive manner.
She is also an ardent supporter of LGBTQIA+ rights, and freedom of speech and expression in the country. Her illustration works often challenge patriarchal norms.
On exploring and understanding ‘giftedness’
As Founder and Editor of Gifted India, Sukhnidh is driven to educate people about what it means to be gifted and the host of challenges that comes with it. “Giftedness does not begin and end at high intelligence,” she says, undoing the popular notion of seeing gifted children—who showcase advanced abilities—on the beneficial and superior end of the spectrum. She asserts that gifted children are, after all, children, and need to be treated with the same tenderness to nurture them.
Sukhnidh says giftedness strikes her as a blind spot in the Indian education system. She hopes to have more conversations about giftedness in mainstream education and wants to bring on board more students, teachers, parents, administrators, and psychologists.
“There is so much I want to write about, interview people, and hear their perspective and compile research-based information on giftedness, and present it in a way that is accessible for everybody to read,” she adds, stating that while she will keep the platform running, this is not where she is heading for, career wise.
She recalls a two-week-long summer internship with GenWise Talent Development, where she assisted scholars and engaged with gifted children, conducting various activities.
“They were talented and gifted in many domains; some were quantitatively inclined, some are creatively inclined, and there are others good at expression. Some love to read literature, some love to solve puzzles and debate politics, and it was a real mixture of different things,” she says, expounding the flaw in calling students excelling in mathematics as ‘intelligent’, while deeming those interested in humanities to be less so. Giftedness is not measured by standardised performance; there’s a lot more to it, she says.
A lot of her teaching experience during the internship complemented the papers, articles, and books she had read, regarding giftedness and child prodigies. Her interaction with several gifted children shows the toll being competent takes on their mental health.
“Anxiety peaks during daily chores, and seeps into the decisions I make about helping myself and distributing my energy through the day. My one boon – the ability to analyse things from all perspectives – becomes a bane. I overthink the trivial and the important,” Neelakantha Bhanu told Gifted India.
This is the larger struggle for Neelakantha, who has been named the world’s fastest human computer, holding four world records and 50 Limca records. And thus through the Gifted India platform, Sukhnidh presents the reality of many gifted children in the country whose ability is often a double-edged sword.