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Boy wonder

| | in Sunday Pioneer
Boy wonder

At age 11, Pritvik Sinhadc has already authored a couple of books on prehistoric beings, has a solution to disposing of hazardous radioactive waste and is on course to write a book on limb re-generation by crossing human DNA strands with reptiles! It was a difficult time to bring up such a young social recluse and genius child with physical ailments but Pritvik’s family never let their worries show. Deebashree Mohanty speaks with the mother & son to tell you how a genius was born and how he confabulates with world scientists

Palaeontology is his favourite subject, dinosaurs his best friends and radio-active waste disposal his interest area. Meet 11-year-old Pritvik Sinhadc from Dubai. He has already written a series of books on pre-historic flora and fauna and is on way to pen his most complex sequel about how best to do away with the radio-active waste, to hit the stands this September.

While boys his age are trying to drive a remote toy car, young Pritvik travels to the top science universities across the globe, lecturing renowned scientists and professors about his research on fresh water algae and Herpetology — he strongly believes that by crossing selective human DNA strands with certain reptiles, we can re-grow limbs or even lost organs! 

“What is the gravitational pull and how do objects end up in the black hole? Pritvik asked his grandfather over dinner at age 1. My jaws dropped.  I used to think these are just phases which will disappear as he grows up. But this became his passion and he was drawn into it. I was most concerned because I had no idea if this was normal. At one point, I even thought that my only son was suffering from some severe form of autism. That was the most challenging time for all of us,” Indira Dharchowdhuri, Pritvik’s mother who once worked for The Pioneer, tells you. Today, is a journalist and a businesswoman in Dubai who is enjoying parenting a genius.

When he was two-and-a-half years old, the family moved from Kolkata to Dubai and from there on began an exciting journey. “My husband got a great offer , we decided to shift base. Pritvik got called in for an entrance test by the Dubai British School. He passed in flying colours and I heaved a sigh of relief. It was impossible to make him understand the need to sit and take a test. It was another mammoth task to convince his teachers that he was not the ‘normal sorts’,” Indira  tells you, recalling Pritvik’s tryst with formal schooling.

The biggest challenge he faced was of boredom and snoozing in class. School visits became routine for his mother who did not know how to make his teachers understand about her son’s ‘different’ tastes. “I have deep gratitude towards the teachers. They did not find it rude when Pritvik told them he was not interested in whatever they were teaching, that he would rather sleep. The teachers called a counsellor who found Pritvik’s IQ to be over 165. He was a certified genius. For a few months, we did not know how to deal with this revelation but as parents we decided to stand by him and motivate him in whatever he wanted to do,” she recalls.  

Slowly, Indira’s son started developing weirder and more complex tastes and the mother’s concern kept growing. There was a point when he would ask questions about mutation of genes and whether limb regeneration was possible. He shunned public outings and playdates became a burden.

“My son was becoming a social recluse and I had no idea how to deal with this. So, I made a lot of efforts in calling his friends over. But that didn’t work. He would happily give away his toys and slip into his room to read up on his next project. Pritvik was never unfriendly, but he just couldn’t gel with kids his age. On the other hand, he could talk to adults about anything,” she says.

As we talk, it is around 10pm Dubai time. Pritvik has returned from a walk around the colony. That is pretty much the only leisure activity that he has allowed himself. A boy of very few words, he is quick to point out that the walk allows him to get his thoughts together. “I replay all the events of the day and observe everything around me,” he says. Not a big eater, dinner features in his schedule only because it has to. “I am working on my third book and that takes away a lot of my time. I have also been independently researching about herpetology. I study this till 3 am every day,” he says, not willing to divulge much about his book. “It’s more complex than dinosaurs,” he casually says. 

This prodigy’s first book When Dinosaurs Roamed the Earth sold several copies and made him a superstar overnight. Did he ever let the stardom get to him? “That’s the best part. Pritvik might be a genius and a scholar too. But his mind is like the most innocent child. His family is everything for him and he is unaware he is such a mega star. We treat him like a normal child and displaying his talent in front of relatives and friends is a strict no-no,” Indira says.

While his mother does all the talking, Pritvik has managed to finish half a chapatti and soup. “He needs to maintain a certain diet because he is ailing,” his mother says, her voice dropping slightly for the first time in the interview.

Pritvik was diagnosed with a serious kidney condition at birth which meant only 50% of his kidneys are functional. To add to this physical malady, the boy also suffers a genetic condition where bonygrowth develop from time to time. “It is not a life threatening disease but extremely painful and restrictive. Recently, we discovered that one of the tumours had grown to 9 inches which could have turned malignant. He had to go through a major operation, that too without any painkillers post-surgery. Pritvik had to bear a 7-inch deep cut without any relief drug because we couldn’t afford to cause any harm to his kidney. It was extremely painful, but my son did not  shed a tear,” Indira says, adding that even the surgeon was taken aback by his strength and will to sail through the pain. To make it sound like no big deal, Indira laughs it off, saying she has passed on this gene to her beloved son. “There is no point in burdening him with all this talk. We keep him as spirited and as light-hearted as possible,” she tells you laughingly.

Now he is all fit and fine but the youngster’s mother is worried that he is not eating a balanced diet. “I eat when I am hungry. I don’t have an inkling about anything specific but I do love my crisps and noodles at times,” Pritvik says. Apart from researching for his upcoming books, the genius is into painting and swims to keep good health. “A couple of laps and I feel re-energised. I cannot indulge in heavy duty activities owing to my medical condition but exercising is important to keep the brain running,” he says.

The boy is used to the expression of awe around him. He likes the attention he gets from his teachers and peers but doesn’t let all that get to him. “There is a long way for me to go still. I am not finished yet. Far from it,” he says and the determination in his voice is contagious. His mother adds: “He knew what subjects to pick at age 3. He told us specifically that sciences were his favourite. When he was 6, he had authored a book and at 7, he knew exactly what he needed to do next. There is logic behind how he had progressed from prehistoric beings to fresh water green algae,” his mother tells you.

And Pritvik is quick to latch on to the topic. “Yes. They are all interconnected. As my interest in palaeontology grew, so did my understanding of evolution and resultant mutations of creatures that are subjected to radioactivity and nuclear waste. This led me to research on how the primary source of radioactive waste is from human activities such as the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, radioactive fallouts at nuclear power plant accidents like the Chernobyl, Fukushima, etc, nuclear testing and improper disposal of nuclear, radioactive and hazardous waste.,” he tells you suddenly getting all excited.

Although Indira feels disturbed that there will be no one to look after her business (an engineering firm and a media house) once she retires, the mother is focussed on providing all support her child needs.

In Year 7 at the Dubai College, Pritvik is way ahead of his peers, especially in subjects close to his heart. He is fond of mathematics and science. “My father is a scientist and granddad is also from a science background. They have taught me the fundamentals,” the boy confesses. But Pritvik’s mother is quick to point out that the work he does is not something even his parents can fathom. “I hear him speak with scientists and try my best to understand what he is saying. I have picked up a few words here and there but I find myself still lost,” she quip.

So, how does he manage to research on subjects alien to his peers? “My network includes a lot of popular scientists and professors all over the world. They help me out whenever I get stuck. I keep in touch with them regularly and keep them posted about the recent developments in my field of study. We have a great rapport going for us,” Pritvik says.

His friends may not understand what he is talking about but they all know he is going to make it big one day. “My best friends in school take interest in the work I publish. But I can tell they do not follow everything,” Pritvik says with a hint of a laughter.

It is not as if there is only study on his mind. The youngster also likes hanging out with friends over a movie or some burgers. The last movie he watched was Jurrasic World and Pritvik says he quite liked it. “It was a visual treat,” is all he has to offer as a review. The dinosaur fetish means he has them all over the place. “There are about 270 make belief pre-historic creatures in his room. There is a specific corner for each one and Pritvik gets very distracted if even a single thing has been moved. He went to sleep with a toy T-Rex when he was 1. Ever since they are his sleep mates,” Chowdhuri says.

As for the future, Pritvik’s parents have never come in between his work and they plan to let him decide his own course. “Where is the need? He has proved his mettle each time. Everytime he picks up a complex thing to do, I feel he is going to burn out, but Pritvik has stood his ground in each and every way. I know my son will not be a staid engineer or doctor. He is meant for much bigger things,” she says.

Although he has never babbled and started speaking fluently when he was 6 months old and authored books at 5,  young Pritvik says the real achiever is his mother. “If it was not for her understanding me and her constant support, I don’t think I would have been where I am today,” he says. What does he want to do when he grows up? “I am looking forward to launching a Government-approved scientific palaeontology digs in various parts of the world. At the moment, I am enjoying my work and projects. Let’s leave it at that,” he says.

The works

What are you currently working on?

I am researching on three aspects:

1: Prehistoric creatures, including Rare Dinosaurs (my fourth book) and new theories in palaeontology. I am also updating my first book When Dinosaurs Roamed The Earth that made me the world’s youngest author on palaeontology at seven. I am also  working on discovering Middle East Cretaceous marine invertebrates and late Miocene Arabian continental vertebrate fossils in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi.

2.Radioactive mutations (my second book titled Impact Of Radioactive And Nuclear Waste On Marine And Land Species), where my research shows that the uses of freshwater algae are boundless as it can remove Strontium 90 from radioactive wastewater and hence could clean and recycle radioactive spent fuel rather than sending it abroad for disposal.

3.Limb regeneration or re-growing lost limbs or perhaps even organs by crossing selective human DNA strands with those of certain reptiles. I am researching on my own in herpetology for the last two years!

Tell us more about your third book coming this September.

Currently, three of my books are scheduled for publications from Macro Media:

Impact Of Radioactive And Nuclear Waste On Marine And Land Species, Walking With Prehistoric Beasts and Rare Dinosaurs is my third book, on which I gave a lecture at the PAN-IIT Meet in April 2014, in Dubai. I was nine then and it fetched me standing ovation from scientists, engineers, businessmen, philanthropists, environmentalists and many others. My next book titled Impact of Radioactive Waste on Marine and Land Species is all about. I want a different solution rather than sending spent fuel abroad for recycling or disposal.

How did the palaeontology bug bite you? What is it that intrigued you the most?

I have no clue… As far as I can recollect, I’ve always been in love with these fantastic, absolutely mind-blowing prehistoric creatures….The fact that they once roamed in our backyard gives me a thrill I simply can’t express.

Accolades

  • Awarded the Megastar Science CREST Award — a project-based awards scheme for the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) from the British Science Association.
  •  He became the Young Science Ambassador from the British Science Association.
  • Honoured several times by distinguished institutions like the Emirates Environmental Group, Blossoms, the Knowledge and Human Development Authority in Dubai.
  •  When he was eight years old, Pritvik gave a lecture on the catastrophic Impact of Radioactive and Nuclear Waste on Marine and Land Species and enthralled a packed crowd of over 75 environmentalists, professors, academicians, scientists and students at the Emirates Environmental Group’s 9th Community Lecture of the Year.
  • At nine, he lectured on the same subject at Dubai International Academic City.
  •  In January 2013, he was invited by the Senckenberg Naturmuseum Frankfurt, Germany, to exchange a book with paleontologist Dr Bernd Herkner and talk about the prehistoric era.
  • Academically, he has topped the primary section of Dubai British School on the World Maths Day. He has also won the Golden Calculator Award from the World Maths Day organisers.
  • He has been formally assessed and declared as ‘Gifted in Maths and Science’ by Dubai British School.
 
 
 
 
 

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