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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Indian boy tops NASA examination 

Saurabh came top of 200,000 students worldwide

A 17-year-old boy from an obscure village in northern India's Uttar Pradesh state has topped an international exam run by Nasa.

Saurabh Singh beat 200,000 students worldwide to top the prestigious International Scientist Discovery exam conducted by the National Aeronautical and Space Administration.
The other two Indians who passed the exam are President APJ Kalam and the late Nasa astronaut, Kalpana Chawla.
President Kalam was seventh in 1960 and Chawla 21st in 1988.
Dingy study
Now politicians, administrators, social workers and teachers are all vying to fete the boy from Ballia district.
"All this attention is so funny," says reticent Saurabh.

His study is a dingy corner in a dilapidated house

Saurabh's feat is all the more impressive because he hails from a backward district, with few passable roads and irregular electricity, in one of India's poorest states.
His father is a teacher while his mother is a health worker with the local government.
His study is a dingy, poorly-lit corner in a dilapidated house in obscure Narhi village, 55km (35 miles) from Ballia town.
After scoring 72% in his school leaving exam, Saurabh left for Rajasthan state to prepare for his engineering school papers.

He read about the Nasa examination in a newspaper and decided to take it.

"I had never even heard of Nasa before I saw the newspaper advertisement. I realised I was familiar with the subjects as they were part of my school syllabuses. So I decided to take a chance," says Saurabh.
Grit and determination
He says he studied up to 18 hours a day preparing for one of the world's toughest exams.


Father Ram Keshwar Singh and son attend many ceremonies

He was put on a 100-strong shortlist to appear for the final papers.
When the results came in, the reticent young boy from Ballia had excelled in all five subjects - scoring A++ in four and A+ in one.
Saurabh has now met President Kalam and cannot wait to go to Nasa.
"After reaching Nasa there will be no looking back for me. I will devote all my time to science and would love to return to India and work for my country," he says.
For the moment, his father takes him from one ceremony to another in Uttar Pradesh.
"Everyone wants him to celebrate his success," says Ram Keshwar Singh.
Even the state's legislators have decided to donate a part of their wages this month to set up a prize fund for Saurabh.
Saurabh's recipe for success is simple - "Where there's a will, there's a way," he says.
"Of course, honesty and determination should never be lacking."

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