‘Dim-witted’ boy wins ‘Bal Vaigyanik’ award

Mumbai : A boy who was hounded out of a Panvel school for being “dim-witted” has won a gold medal in the prestigious Dr Homi Bhabha Bal Vaigyanik Science Talent Search Competition.

‘Dim-witted’ boy wins ‘Bal Vaigyanik’ award

In fact, his parents pulled him out of the school because he was “mentally and physically tortured”, not only by his classmates but “also by his teachers”. Some other Panvel schools too rejected him as “disabled”, said his mother.

All that was wrong with the boy, Jatin Patil, was that he is autistic. Now a Std. IX student of Vashi’s Fr Agnel Multipurpose school, Jatin won the award for his project on Organic Pesticides and their effect on Aphid insects.

The Homi Bhabha Bal Vaigyanik competition is conducted to assess the aptitude for science among high school children. “It is a three-tier examination and clearing the three levels is no mean task,” said a proud Fr S Almeida, long-time principal of the school, who now heads the Fr Agnel Technical Education Complex.

In fact, Jatin’s story has several parallels with the Aamir Khan film, Taare Zamin Par, which is on autism, a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior.

In the initial written round, Jatin stood first in the Thane Division and sailed into the second practical examination round where only 7.5% of the candidates make the grade. In the third and final Project and Interview round, he chose Organic Pesticides and their effect on Aphid insects.

According to his mother Archana, he chose this because he noticed aphids spoiling their rose and shoe flower plants. He made a concoction of ginger, garlic and chilies as a bio-pesticide, which gave him 70 % results.

He began work on this project in December and visited farms from Karjat to Badlapur. After an interview by a panel of eminent scientists, Jatin was awarded the prestigious gold medal.

The Homi Bhabha Bal Vaigyanik gold medal is just one of Jatin’s impressive list of academic achievements. He stood sixth in the Maharashtra State Scholarship Exams, ninth in the National Talent Search scholarship exam and was ranked 93 in the International Maths Olympiad.

A voracious reader, Jatin is tutored by his mother, a pathologist, and regularly tops his class. Asked what he wants to become, the boy unhesitatingly says, `scientist’.

Anil Singh

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