Meet Neelakantha Bhanu Prakash Who Surpassed Shakuntala Devi’s Records as the “Human Calculator”

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Meet Neelakantha Bhanu Prakash Who Surpassed Shakuntala Devi’s Records as the “Human Calculator”

Illustration: Robin Chakraborty

This year’s Olympics in Tokyo weren’t held due to the coronavirus pandemic, but India has bagged a gold medal at an international competition anyway, thanks to the efforts of Neelakantha Bhanu Prakash. The competition in question was the Mind Sports Olympiad, an annual competition that was held virtually this year. Neelakantha came in first place against 29 other competitors in the Mental Calculation World Championship, a mathematics event. Only 20 years of age, Neelakantha, who hails from Hyderabad, is a student of mathematics at St Stephens College at New Delhi.

Speaking to the news agency ANI, Prakash said, “This is the first time that India has won a gold medal. It is the most prestigious international competition for games of mental skill and mind sports… This is equivalent to any other Olympic event.” Not only did Neelakantha win first place in the Mental Calculation World Championship, reports are stating that the speed of his calculations surpasses even that of Shakuntala Devi, the vaunted “Human Calculator” who became famous worldwide for her maths skills and was also the subject of a recent biopic starring Vidya Balan.

Neelakantha told ANI he holds four world records, including ones held in the past by Shakuntala Devi, and has 50 records in the Limca Book of Records. He hopes to share his love for maths with other students and make the subject more popular. His bio on Twitter says “Eradicating Math Phobia”, and in the wake of his victory at the Mind Sports Olympiad, Neelakantha has reiterated his intention to change the way maths is viewed by many students in India.

A citizen bagging a gold medal at an international event is always a proud moment for a country. For the 20-year-old math wizard with a vision to usher in the next wave of human calculators, it’s a priceless platform to share an important message.

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