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Records were never my dream: youngest IIT prof

Jul 13, 2010 11:43 PM IST India India

Bihar boy Dr Tathagat Avatar Tulsi has become the youngest assistant professor at the prestigious IIT Bombay. The child prodigy had finished high school at the age of nine, earned his BSc degree at 10, and MSc degree at 12 and then received his Doctorate in Quantum Computing from the Indian Institute of Science at the age of 21.

Dr Tulsi spoke to CNN-IBN about his achievements and why he decided to join IIT Bombay despite an offer from a Canadian university.

CNN-IBN: It must be a great day for you? You decided and chose an IIT over a Canadian university?

Tathagat Tulsi: Thank you very much sir. It's an honour to get such compliments from you. I am a very big fan of yours. It's a very good and successful day for me that I joined IIT-Bombay as a professor at the age of 22 years. IIT-Bombay is a well known institute all over the world and I am very happy that they have offered me this assistant professorship. People join IIT faculty at the age of 30-35 years and I am very young. I believe that I am the youngest professor of India. That is why it is a very good achievement for me.

CNN-IBN: Tathagat, why did you choose IIT over a university in Canada?

Tathagat Tulsi: Actually, I wanted to work in India. Long time back, I had decided that I will not go abroad for long term; I may go abroad for a short term visit like two-three month visit for research. That is why I was not willing to take up a job abroad. I wanted to work in India. IITs are world class institutions. This was the reason behind the choice of IIT over Canadian university.

CNN-IBN: Tathagat, I remember in 2001, the Department of Science and Technology in Germany suggested that you are a fake prodigy, and that you had mugged up jargon. It seemed that you were very hurt by the criticism. We didn't hear of you for years. And now you have resurfaced. You are the youngest holder of a Phd. How difficult was it when people said you were a fraud prodigy?

Tathagat Tulsi: It was very difficult for me in August 2001 when there were charges against me. Those charges were, of course, false but what mattered to me was that the media was publishing those charges like anything. They were not listening to me. And that hurt me a lot because when everyone around you starts suspecting you, your credibility, it becomes it is very hard to live. And for a 13-14 year old kid it becomes very difficult. I went into depression. That is the reason why you did not hear much from my side. But of course, now I am very happy that I have achieved and I think it is a fitting reply to my critics. Now I am looking forward to my work.

CNN-IBN: It there a dream, a goal that you have for yourself? Is it just being in the Guinness Book of Records again and again for breaking these records for being the youngest professor or is there something that you dream about.

Tathagat Tulsi: Records were never my dreams. My childhood dream was to win noble prize and I very much wanted to do scientific research. I am attracted to science, particularly physics and the theories of physics. That is the reason why I finished my 10th class, BSc and MSc as early as possible. At the age of 12 years, I finished my MSc just to start my PhD level scientific research. That is why I started and I am now happy that I am doing my scientific research and doing what I wanted to do. I am working towards fulfilling my childhood dream of winning a noble prize.

CNN-IBN: We appreciate you joining us. All the best and enjoy your tenure at IIT-Bombay.

Tathagat Tulsi: Thank you very much.

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