By Mudassir Raja
Dhaval Bathia doesn’t lay claim to mathematical zenith, but he has unique knowledge of the subject, a genius which he employs to make the numbers talk. He uses different techniques and methods to solve big calculations in a jiffy.
Born on June 26, 1983 in Mumbai, he rose to international fame in 2015 when he created a Guinness World Record for teaching the maximum number of students at a single venue for 7 consecutive hours without a break. He also carries the Limca Book Record in India for teaching in the maximum number of schools across the world.
Wikipedia notes that during one training session, a journalist from the daily Times of India witnessed how Dhaval “could remember the entire calendar of 100 years in 5 minutes and accurately remember the names and phone numbers of all the 300-odd people present in the auditorium.”
A lawyer by profession, Dhaval’s love for mathematics comes from his reading ancient Indian books on calculations. After developing an interest in the same, he also learnt new and modern methods of solving bigger calculations — at a serious pace.
Dhaval is also a prolific writer. He has given insight on different topics in five books and is currently, involved in the sixth.
The mathematician was in Qatar recently to meet the heads of Indian schools and to familiarise himself with how they educate students in the country.
Community caught up with Dhaval and interviewed him about his accomplishments and future plans.
Tell us about your journey so far.
I come from a family of lawyers — 14 members of my extended family are lawyers. My wife, too, is a lawyer. I have also got a degree in law. In fact, my family runs one of the biggest law firms in India. I have a two-and-a-half year-old daughter.
I was not good at mathematics at school and hated it. The interest was kindled during my vacations when I was in Grade X. My father gave me an ancient book written by an unknown swami (a male religious teacher). The book contained methods and tricks about solving big mathematical calculations. That was the impetus to start learning and practicing the methods that helped to very quickly solve different problems. In contrast, the methods I learnt at school were very slow. I started developing a keen interest in the subject. I also learnt new and updated techniques in due course.
How and when did your love for mathematics make you popular?
I discussed and shared the methods I learnt with my friends and family. I was only 16, then. Everyone was in awe about the ability and the knowledge I had gained. I soon became popular in my area and was interviewed by newspapers in Mumbai. After learning about my ability, the principal of a school located in the vicinity invited me to train his students. I saw students taking interest in my tricks and techniques. This encouraged me to start training the students and create interest in mathematics.
When did you start writing books?
After I started lecturing in schools, I observed that the students, in general, found it hard to get through their examinations. I wrote my first book — How to Top Exams and Enjoy Studies — which guided students on how to pass their examinations when I was only 17. I wrote my second book — Vedic Mathematics Made Easy — when I was 19. So far I have written five (including The Best of Soduko, He Swam with Sharks for an Ice-cream and Memory Power) and the next one is in the works. More than 300,000 copies of my books have been sold across the world. These have been translated in 14 languages; next, these books are being translated into Spanish.
Tell us about your experience training students across the world.
I have personally trained in 378 schools in India, USA, Singapore, UK, Nepal, Oman, UAE, Sri Lanka, Mauritius and Kuwait. These teaching sessions were attended by more than 12,000 teachers and over a million students. I have been training teachers and students mostly in urban areas. I was included in the Guinness World Record in 2015 when I taught 1,400 students for 7 consecutive hours at one place without a break. Actually, the record was made because there was none to beat!
I have been doing all teaching and training free of cost. I have other sources of income, including my legal consultancy firm and publishing.
What was the purpose of your visit to Qatar and how do you see the country?
I have come to Qatar for the first time. I have been to other countries in the Middle East. I am actually writing my sixth book with the theme of excellence in education. In this regard, I contacted principals of some Indian schools here. They invited me to train their students.
In six days, I visited five prominent Indian schools and, in total, trained about 5,000 students. I taught students different mathematical tricks and games. I also taught them how they can exactly tell how old a person is without that person telling them. I also taught them how to know how much money one has in one’s pocket without the person telling them. They really loved it.
I loved Qatar. I have heard a lot about Doha and wanted to come here. I want to visit again. The next time, I am planning to meet principals of other South Asian schools and train their students. I like the education system here and the administrative functions. I see Qatar as a very receptive place. We can have a silent revolution here in education.
Is there a common thread among students that you may have observed while training them?
Students these days have short attention span. They want to have everything done very quickly. It is hard to sustain their attention. They are increasingly getting impatient and quickly lose interest. Generally, our life has also become very fast. Everything is happening very fast around them. They are not able to focus on one thing at a time.
What are you future plans?
I want to train and educate about a million girls from rural areas in different countries in South Asia and Africa. Enough is being done in urban centres. More attention needs to be given to girl students, especially in remote areas. Education is the key to success in today’s world. Children in rural areas also have the right to a decent education.
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