Child prodigies have been with us, always. However, many of them have had their genius questioned, as to whether or not a parent or a mentor was behind their amazing skills. It is only when their talents were authentically established that people around them could acknowledge them as prodigies. Sixteen-year-old Shreenabh Agrawal from Nagpur is one such amazing kid who proved the sceptics wrong and consistently displayed his precocious genius after he unfurled it at several acclaimed forums.
Shreenabh’s mother realized her son’s potential when she noticed his stunning memory and creativity at age three. She found he could memorise lengthy scriptural passages and paint like an artist. “As a child prodigy, he seemed to have emerged fully formed at birth, his talent already developed, his gifts fully ripe,” recalls Tinu who has obsessively coached him all along and shown enormous patience and discipline in her desire to nurture and foster Shreenabh’s natural abilities. It began with the toddler smearing paints and dripping splatters around; but the nimble fingers soon started turning out pictures with the proficiency of an artist.
His parents began noticing changes in him, and started understanding his special needs. They bought him books because he announced that he preferred them to toys. He seemed to have a natural affinity for painting and figures. Later on, in Class 5, he showed a flair for figures. He cleared the Gauss Contest conducted by the Association of Mathematics Teachers of India. The test is aimed at discovering and encouraging students who have the capacity for original and creative thinking, readiness to solve unfamiliar and non-routine problems, exhibiting a general mathematical ability appropriate to their level.
True to a genius’ stereotype, Shreenabh was not endowed with robust physical health, but displayed several uncanny traits and a remarkable aptitude for logical thought-building at his young age. His mind is like a sponge with a high capacity for soaking up knowledge. He has been a star student and high-achiever at his school, Chanda Devi Saraf School, and secured All India Rank 3, scoring 99.2% in the ICSE examinations.
As Shreenabh kept shooting far ahead of other children his own age, and doubled up as a teacher for his peers, his mother wondered if they ought to try to hold him back a little. “I didn’t quite understand where we were heading with him during those early years. Shreenabh is now a happy, well-adjusted child who loves to laugh and enjoy life. I no longer worry about his social life, since he has plenty of friends. He loves books, but he is not a bookworm. He can forget books and studies and enjoy himself when he needs it. Despite his devotion to study, he finds time to play chess and indulge in arts.”
The list of Shreenabh’s accomplishments are truly astonishing: First prize in the 2018 International Essay competition organised by the Government of Japan in collaboration with several multilateral institutions; First prize winner in 2018 Pendle War Poetry Competition, London, in the Under-18 Overseas category; part of a contingent of World Peace Leaders for a live interview conducted by Radio Chico Schweiz Switzerland for the fifth World Peace Week, September 2019; winner of ‘Himalayan-2016’ title in the scientific talent search examination Vidyarthi Vigyan Manthan (VVM) held at IIT Delhi; appointment as the first international freelance youth reporter for Radio Chico Switzerland, and many others.
Shreenabh has published two books, 150 articles, five research papers, and has one patent “Triple Lock Bore Hole Protection Lid” to his credit. He loves applying STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths] in creative ways to solve social problems. He also presented a research paper titled Mahila e-Haat: A Gender-based e-Commerce Initiative that was selected for the 2019 IIM-NASMEI Summer Marketing Information Systems Conference at IIM Indore. His project got an A grade and citation at the National Children Science Congress 2019.
As a wonder boy, Shreenabh sparked public interest and media glare quite early. It’s fair to say that the parents have helped turn their son into a mini-celebrity, making him available for scores of interviews and news conferences. People seem to have a natural tendency to glorify exceptional children and ascribe incredible behaviours to them on account of their nebulous perceptions. But Shreenabh’s parents have been careful to dispel all these. “He is simply a normal boy with a high capacity for learning,” they affirm.
At school, Shreenabh works towards collective success of his class. “I’m generally pretty shy, hesitant to show my work,” he admits. This reticence poses a challenge for those who need to explore Shreenabh’s diverse repertoire of talents and the vast knowledge base. Shreenabh hasn’t found the media coverage demanding. Does he feel uncomfortable being called a child prodigy or a genius? “I’ve got used to it. I feel like I’m in my rightful place,” muses Shreenabh.
His father, Moujesh, is a technocrat in the Central Government and mother, Tinu, is director of Prarambh, an HR organization. They never expected the life into which Shreenabh has led them, but neither have they been intimidated by the pressures. In pursuing it Tinu seems to enjoy the diligence it takes to nurture such a child. The challenge for prodigious children is the successful transition to adulthood.
“We want Shreenabh to be happy,” say his parents. “We want him to grow into a well-adjusted person capable of living a fulfilling life. We have not set the achievement bar too high for him. All we ask is that he is able to achieve his goals. We have tried to give him the tools and faithfully stood by him and set him on what we think is the right path!”