Tathagat Avatar Tulsi heads towards IIT Mumbai as the youngest IIT professor

This is a bitter - sweet achievement for Bihar’s child prodigy Tathagat Avatar Tulsi. The 22 - year - old physics genius has been appointed an assistant professor at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Mumbai, the youngest to ever hold the position. But amid all the jubilation, there’s a memory that still rankles him. In February this year, he faced an unfriendly welcome from IIT - Patna — where he had applied for the same post — crushing his dream to serve his home state.

“ I wanted to stay closer to home and pursue research from the newly set - up institute but that was not to be. Waterloo University in Canada had offered me an opportunity to pursue post - doctoral research and was willing to pay me Rs 24 lakh per year. But I preferred to stay in Patna,” he said.

Tulsi said the Patna interview board had wanted to know why he wanted to stay back. “ I told them I wanted to do something for my country,” he recalled.But what finally put Tulsi off was the interview board’s precondition that he would have to stay away from the media if he wanted the job.

“ I told them it was unacceptable. I made it very clear that it would not be possible for me to steer clear of the media because of my background. I failed to see why the institute wanted to place a rider like that,” he said.

Subhash Pandey, the registrar of IITPatna, said he couldn’t comment on the issue since all academic matters were handled by a high-level committee. “The director of the institute, professor Anil Bhowmick, is in Hyderabad to attend a meeting. He alone can comment on the matter,” Pandey said. Bhowmick could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.

For Tulsi, joining IIT is just another feather in his cap. He has a long list of such remarkable accomplishments to his credit, including completing his post-graduation in physics from Patna University at the age of 12!

Tulsi, who was hailed as one of the seven gifted youngsters in Asia by the Time magazine in 2003, said it was very easy for him to go abroad.

“ But I chose to serve my country. I do not want to go abroad because I want to do research here and win the Nobel Prize for India,” he said. Tulsi, who will join work at IIT Mumbai shortly, said he wanted to set up a lab to do research on quantum computation. But he still says he wouldn’t have gone anywhere had he got the job in Patna. That painful interview was not the first hurdle in Tulsi’s path.

In August 2001, a delegation of Indian scientists taken to Germany, for an interaction with Nobel laureates, had doubted his abilities. “ Those were dark days for me. People questioned my ability and I was dubbed a fake prodigy,” he recalled.Tulsi slowly slipped into depression. “ But after three years, I decided to fight back and prove my critics wrong. I completed my Ph. D last year,” he said.

At 21, he also became the youngest person in India with a doctoral degree. Tulsi, whose role model is Albert Einstein, said he owed his success to his parents. They had to fight many legal battles to get him the permission to appear for university exams before the prescribed age.

“ My ultimate ambition is to win a Nobel for my country,” he said. The entire country is keeping its fingers crossed to see that happen.


Anonymous { July 18, 2010 at 9:52 AM }
Prof. Tathagat brought glory to the country several times. But what did he get? Humiliation and harassment at the hands of jealous and unpatriotic people. The conduct of IIT Patna's interview board is shameless and shows jealousy of the persons who rejected his application. In interview they put condition to be away from media which was illegal and devoid of manners. How such jealous persons got place in the interview board is a matter of surprise. They misused their authority by being autocaratic. Shame on them.
I wonder that how such persons could be called as scientists who questioned Tathagat's abilities durring the Germany trip because before going to Germany Tulsi was a Guinness world record holder, had MSc degree and CSIR-NET certificate which were sufficient to prove his talent beyond doubt. So only frauds would have questioned his talent. Their unscientific behaviour shows that they were not at all scientists. They should be severely punished for trying to defame a world record holder. Shame on them.

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