- Rahul Pareek has been inclined towards fine art since childhood
- In 2018, he started using e-waste for his artwork
- Rahul collects e-waste from neighbours and local mobile shops
New Delhi: Ever thought of making a portrait from old mobile phones, discarded cables, motherboards, and other electronic waste? That might sound like a tall order but Rahul Pareek from Guwahati is not only making such art pieces but winning hearts as well. In January 2020, 21-year-old Rahul, a student of K. C. Das Commerce College in Guwahati created a portrait of Indian Cricketer Virat Kohli using scraps like old keypad phones, wires and paper pins on a canvas. On presentation, the cricketer himself signed the artwork and wrote, “Dear Rahul, this is an outstanding creation!!”
A closer look at the portrait shows dismantled handsets used to depict Virat’s spiked hair. Various smaller devices and parts of phones have been joined together using black thread and wired earphones. Made completely out of scrap, the portrait was put together in three days. Take a look:
— BCCI (@BCCI) January 5, 2020
Rahul has been inclined towards fine arts since childhood. He even used to take special classes for fine arts. But, Rahul’s love for art took away his attention from studies and as a result, he flunked class 6. While talking to NDTV, Rahul said,
My failure didn’t go well with my parents obviously so they decided to cut me off from arts and sent me to a boarding school. My parents were also of the opinion that art cannot be a means of livelihood hence, they wanted me to study well and make a decent career.
It is only after Rahul finished his higher education and returned to Guwahati, he reconnected with his love for art and started putting his imagination on a canvas. Rahul who is into different kinds of artwork including painting with colours, and even tea decided to use electronic waste or e-waste to stand out and send the message on e-waste.
Global e-waste production is on track to reach 120 million tonnes per year by 2050 if current trends continue, according to a report from the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE) and the UN E-Waste Coalition released at Davos in 2019. Less than 20 per cent of e-waste is formally recycled, with 80 per cent either ending up in landfills or being informally recycled – much of it by hand in developing countries, exposing workers to hazardous and carcinogenic substances such as mercury, lead and cadmium. E-waste in landfills contaminates soil and groundwater, putting food supply systems and water sources at risk.
To begin with, in 2018, Rahul made a portrait of then Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal through a motherboard of a computer.
Recalling the process, he said,
Initially, people in neighbourhood and at electronics shops refused to give me e-waste as they thought I will sell off precious metals and valuable parts to earn money. After a lot of convincing, I managed to gather waste and create a piece. Since the idea was new, it got a great response from the people, even the CM and that set me on the path to creating more artworks.
Rahul has created around 25 portraits of celebrities like Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar, Former President of India A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, among others. The waste warrior cum artist says that initially, it used to take him a month to complete a piece but now that he has got a hang of it, he manages to create portraits in a week. He added,
My parents have realised that I am made for art and it is my artworks that have brought us recognition and respect. Today, even people in the neighbourhood or local mechanics and shopkeepers know me and save e-waste for me. Some even drop by at home to deliver e-waste. I dismantle them like in case of phones; I take out the battery, keypad and other smaller parts and then use the body of it.
When asked why he uses art as a medium to create awareness about the growing problem of e-waste, he said,
Nobody appreciates on the face messaging. Today, if you will ask someone to stop generating waste, it will probably fall on deaf ears. But through innovation and creativity, you can catch the attention of people and communicate.
Rahul has won many awards for his innovative artworks. He also made it to the Asia Book of Records. The young artist is now planning to create a portrait of PM Narendra Modi.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.