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A genius in the making

Meet 13-year-old Ashwath Rabindranath, one of the winners of the Britannia India Child Genius contest



WHIZ KID Ashwath

It's easy to brand Chennai-based Ashwath Rabindranath a geek. This 13-year-old prefers tomes loaded with information, "encyclopaedias mostly". Even his light reading is heavy — Isaac Asimov kind of science fiction.

He has never been hooked to the Cartoon Network. But enjoys watching History Channel and the series on various subjects that BBC telecasts regularly. He watches films occasionally. He's not much interested in cricket either, despite studying at Vidya Mandir ("I know my school has produced many State and National-level cricketers"). He's hunched over the computer for long hours. He tells you in the manner of a scientist, "I use the Internet to do my research on various subjects." Research? Well!

Based on these self-revelations and the fact that he was placed third out of 320 children (short-listed from 20,000 around the country) in the Britannia India's Child Genius show (a quiz programme anchored by Siddhartha Basu and telecast on Star World) and ranked 13th in the National Science Olympiad, one could easily think of him as a swotting machine and a stay-at-home.

Just when I slot him in the geek category, Ashwath reels off a list of interests that real geeks may keep away from. Such as - being on the phone for an hour ("Usually, the call is made to exchange information, but becomes a jabbering session"), being on the dot at the tennis court ("I play the game pretty well"), not missing an opportunity to hit the road ("I have visited almost all of Karnataka and Kerala") and allowing himself occasionally to read thrillers.

But before you could complete "Ah, he's just like any other kid," he surprises you with his professor-like talk. "I enjoy working with numbers. I wonder why people are allergic to mathematics. This subject is more about understanding than studying. Actually, there is nothing to study in it."

Ashwath says despite being busy professionals, his parents (Dad's a business consultant and mom a doctor) have spared no effort to direct the course of his knowledge-seeking endeavour.

PRINCE FREDERICK

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