Young Achievers

Young Achievers

Dhanvi Reddy and Chandan Prasad

Dhanvi Reddy & Chandan Prasad
If you ever thought rocket science was the preserve of grey-haired scientists in ISRO and NASA, it’s time to revise that opinion. Two class XII students of Bangalore’s highly rated Bishop Cotton Boys’ School (estd. 1865) — Dhanvi Reddy and Chandan Prasad — have developed a dextrose engine powered rocket which has astounded the nation’s scientific establishment, including scientists in ISRO, Hindustan Aeronautics and officials at the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

"I have not come across an innovative project like Ebender in the past quarter century. It is truly unique and I hope it gives other youngsters across the country the inspiration to culivate a scientific temper," says R.K. Maheshwari director general of civil aviation.

The student duo was inspired to build the rocket christened Ebender, following the launch of ISRO’s INSAT satellite in 2001. They started by reading about rocket science from books borrowed from the Cottons library and surfing the net. "The website of Richard Nakka, a Canadian rocket enthusiast, provided us a lot of information about rocket building and we interacted with him by e-mail," recalls Reddy.

The budding scientists began work on ‘Mission Ebender’ when they were in class X, almost two years before they started the actual assembly (June 2004). Since Mission Ebender was an extra-curricular project and required unauthorised use of the lab and materials, Reddy and Prasad felt it prudent to enshroud it in secrecy. But two months later Dr. Abraham Ebenezer, principal of Bishop Cotton Boys stumbled upon their secret discovering their tools, nuts, bolts, drilling machine, circuits and accessories.

But to their delight Ebenezer was more than impressed because he immediately announced a fee scholarship of Rs.21,000 for each and awarded them the 22K Gold Crest — the highest honour for a Cottonian. Moreover Ebenezer took it upon himself to liaise with and obtain all the required clearances from the DGCA and Air Traffic Control authorities. Since then, Ebender has been cleared for launch and currently the boys are awaiting clearance from ISRO.

The outcome of a sustained two-year effort is the 10-ft tall and three inch diameter rocket weighing 7 kg. "I’m confident that Ebender will attain an altitude of 3.2-3.8 km and traverse a distance of 5 km laterally within a total flight time of 12 minutes," says Prasad. Primarily a data acquisition and photography rocket, in the course of its flight it will shoot pictures and acquire meteorological and physical data about planet Earth.

Both the boys want to pursue further studies in aerospace engineering in the US. While Prasad wants to specialise solely in rocket science, Reddy aspires to pursue a degree in management inform-ation systems along with aerospace engineering.

Srinidhi Raghavendra (Bangalore)

Parimarjan Negi

Parimarjan Negi
"My ambition is to become the world’s youngest grandmaster," claims Parimarjan Negi, all of 11, proudly displaying a trove of national and international trophies, cups and medals he has won in his short career as one of India’s most promising sub-junior chess players. A class VI student of Delhi’s Amity International School, the youngster is flush with success after winning a bronze medal at the World Youth Chess Championship, 2004 held in Crete, Greece, in the under-12 category against stiff competition from seasoned international players.

After a brilliant 6/6 start, Parimarjan lost his rhythm and went down to Zhao Nan of China in the seventh round, but a quick recovery in the last four games netted him three points — enough to see him through to bag the bronze. "The competition was quite stiff this year," recalls Negi, "but I was resolute about winning and making my country proud." Now he has set his sights on the gold in the World Youth Championship scheduled to be held in France later this year.

That isn’t overweening ambition considering Negi has checkmated some of the best young chessmasters worldwide, since he precociously started playing chess at the tender age of five. Already he has won gold medals in the Asian Youth Championship 2002 (under-10 category) and in the Commonwealth Championship 2003 held in Bangkok. In 2000, when he was barely eight, the prodigy trounced renowned players to bag the gold at the British Junior Chess Champ-ionship. Ditto at the Asian Youth Championship held in Teheran in 2002. Young Parimarjan attributes his astonishing track record to his training under several national and international grandmasters including Russian Grandmaster Ruslan Scherbakov and Evgeny Vladimirov of Kazakhstan who coached world champion Gary Kasparov.

Inevitably given that chess is a mind game, Parimarjan is a top scorer in class, normally averaging 90 percent plus. Describing himself as an all-rounder Parimarjan also plays badminton apart from chess training which takes up at least two-three hours daily, "a routine I never miss". Though the lad is keen to conquer ever more horizons in chess, he is mindful of the financial strain it imposes on his middle-class parents (his father J.B. Negi works with the International Airport Authority of India and mother Paridhi for the Life Insurance Corporation). "The coaches, air tickets and hotel bills add up to quite a lot and though my school has helped, it’s not enough," he admits.

But with a razor sharp mind and media-savvy attitude, there’s every likelihood of his being able to make the right moves to solve this problem as well.

Neeta Lal (Delhi)