“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

As a Dhol (drum) player, I was introduced to powerful beats at an early age. Mere training of the beats, though, wasn’t enough. My maturity as an artist came from understanding the artistic meaning behind the white spaces – the moments of silence that define the power of a beat and capture the emotion of a composition. My life has revolved around this silence – the negative space in music that to me represents those who lack a voice in society.

I am also that white space. In the mirror every morning, as I adorn my head with a colorful turban, I see my younger self staring back at me and screaming for help. He reminds me of the school bullies who had set my turban on fire. I was only 10 years old. My presence as a white space is the very essence of society, and I have vowed not to let such “silences” go unnoticed.

Such white spaces exist in the global arena and between nations and communities – as some underserved countries and populations are desperate for innovation that is beyond their reach. I want to create sustainable medical technology that will enhance accessibility within such “white spaces” globally, and convey that silence is not merely a lifeless backdrop on which beats of music are painted. Rather, silence is a color in itself, and the most powerful one.

— Samrath Oberoi