Meet Kanishtha Dhankhar – Model and Advocate for Sustainability and Human Rights in India
We had the absolute pleasure of working with and talking to Indian model Kanishtha Dhankhar as she was visiting Stockholm a couple weeks back. Beautiful inside out, she is not only a well-known face in her country, but an advocate for sustainability, human rights and a clean Yogi lifestyle too. A true source of inspiration.
We love the story you did for us. How was the shoot and what do you remember from that day?
– For me the most incredible thing was the ease I felt. The team and the streets of Stockholm made me feel so completely free. The introduction to the many sustainable labels opened up a whole new world of clothing to me.
Give us the basic facts about yourself – where do you live, what do you do, what do you love?
– I am currently living between a few places: New Delhi and Mumbai in India, and Seoul in South Korea. But to answer your question, Mumbai has been my base for a long time.
– I have been modelling and working on other projects part time. However, modelling is taking a bit of a back seat at the moment, as I am gravitating towards a more stable life and one that engages me with projects concerning the environment and matters of human concerns at large. The most recent project I worked on was a recycling project with Tetra Pak India where we educate the Indian consumer on the importance of recycling. More specifically, the project in an ongoing drive to bring back used Tetra Pak cartons, which are then recycled and reused to make chairs and tables for underprivileged schools.
– What I love is to travel. Exploring new places and cultures fascinates me and gives me insight into a deeper knowledge of the world. Personally, I learn the most from real experiences. I also live for Yoga, but with a more traditional and spiritual approach to it as for me, life is Yoga. Self exploration and Yoga philosophy are two of my favorite subjects and, safe to say, states of life.
Tell us about your relationship to India. What is it like living and working there as a model?
– India is a world of its own. I am really lucky to have grown up traveling all over the country, exploring the many facets of the incredible nation. From its rich cultural and spiritual heritage, vast expanse of natural diversity to the busy cities, quaint towns and little farming villages – it was all part of my growing up there. This is my soul connection to India and the world around me.
– As far as living and working as a model go, it has been a challenge and a reward! After 10 years of working so closely with the industry, I feel like I have a whole education that no book alone can teach on life, work and the many different sides to the functioning of the fashion industry at large, and I feel like I could take on the world with it. The industry in India really pushes you to your limits, but is also in its own way very gentle to work with. There are so many talented people and designers, and we have many fashion weeks and brands that support the industry. Also, we have all the top magazines in the world, so it truly is an economy in its own.
“Modelling is taking a bit of a back seat at the moment, as I am gravitating towards a more stable life and one that engages me with projects concerning the environment and matters of human concerns at large.”
You seem to be very committed to sustainability. Where does this awareness come from and how is it present in your everyday life?
– Yes I am. I feel very passionately about sustainability, and for me it is much more than a word and rather a philosophy to live by – a way of life. The way I see it, it is a more natural and connected way of life. Natural to human beings, but something we have lost because of rapid growth.
– I think the awareness is something that I was born with, because I have been like this since I was a child. I just always loved cleanliness and I loved the great outdoors. I grew up very connected to the land. We lived close the ocean for many periods of my childhood. Every summer holiday my family and I went back to our ancestral village and back then all the ways of life were natural. Cow dung patties to make fires, no electricity, natural fertilizers, swimming with buffaloes in the ponds and riding on tractors. I think all of this added to how I feel about nature and preserving it.
– ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’ is a phrase I seem to have come upon much later in life. But having lived that principal from a young age I can say that it truly resonates with me. A clean surrounding leads to a clean mind and thus a diamond heart.
How are people in India doing on these matters?
– Recycling is not the everyday person’s top concern. Neither is it part of their lifestyle, and this is where the struggle is real. The population is so great and unaware, and this is a big reason to hamper the growth of this incredible nation. The government is taking more measures, and of course we have many NGOs and companies now implementing many reforms, but in the daily life of people, we are far from it. To create a new way of life takes time and especially when the consumer is slow on the uptake. But things will change, it’s just a matter of time.
What can you tell us about Save the Loom and your engagement in this cause?
– Save the Loom is a relief organisation that is supporting the Chendamangalam weavers to restore their weaves again after the great floods that destroyed a large part of Kerala this August. My participation is to support them in any way to bring more awareness and resources as a helping voice and hand to the cause.
If you could make one wish right now, what would it be?
– To get a job with the UN.
Follow Kanishtha Dhankhar here!
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