He could not solve a mathematical problem on a piece of paper because of his visual impairment.

But, this did not dampen Pratish Datta’s love for mathematics, or his zeal for pursuing a career in mathematical research. Not only was he able to do complex mathematical calculations but he scored the highest grade among all M.Sc. students this year.

Mr. Datta was awarded the Professor Jagadish Chandra Bose Memorial Gold Medal for the best academic performance among the outgoing students for the two-year post graduate course in science at the 58th convocation of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kharagpur on Saturday.

“I do calculations mentally”

“I could not even write a simple mathematical formula, all I did was remember it. I do all the calculations mentally and then dictate it to my scribe, who puts it down on paper,” 23-year-old Datta said, after being awarded the degree in Mathematics by the institute.

Suffering from retinoschisis — an eye disease characterised by the abnormal splitting of the retina’s neuro-sensory layers, resulting in loss of vision, Mr. Datta has been dependent on his mother for all his lessons since his childhood.

“I would read out the lessons, including mathematical problems, and he would memorise them,” his mother Ranjana Datta said, adding that since Mr. Datta was interested in mathematics, she encouraged him to take up the subject.

His cumulative grade point average was 9.87 — higher than any other M.Sc student at the IIT. After graduating with mathematics from St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata, he joined the institute in 2010.

Keen to take up teaching and research as his career, Mr. Datta has enrolled in a Ph.D. programme on Cryptology and Network Security at IIT Kharagpur.

In the last two years at the institute, Mr. Datta has amazed his teachers with his ability.

“Extraordinary mind”

“Pratish has an extraordinary mind and his way of learning is only through listening to lectures. But whatever he listens, it gets inked in his mind. We were also confused when he joined the institute, but he emerged with flying colours with his ability to rise above adversities,” head of the mathematics department Professor P.D. Srivastava said.

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