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April 4, 2000
Shobha Warrier in Madras
Unlike other 13-year-olds, he does not look up to Sachin Tendulkar as his hero or idol. His hero is Bill Gates. It is not cricket that pumps adrenalin into his blood but a software program. When other 13-year-olds eat, sleep, and dream cricket and Sachin Tendulkar, this 13-year-old eat, sleep, and dream about software programs and Bill Gates. We're talking about the world's youngest Microsoft Certified Systems Analysis Engineer, A V Dinesh, an eighth standard student from Madras.
When he was nine, he used to gawk at the computers in shops. The images and numbers that tumbled across the screen enthralled him and he longed to lay hands on those magic keys. He did not demand any toys from his father, just an opportunity to learn more about the machine. Soon, his father enrolled him in NIIT's Leda classes. In no time, he has learnt whatever it could offer.
But he was not satisfied. At the age of 10, he was learning C, C++, Unix and Sybase at NIIT. His classmates were all BEs and MCA students. He was the only youngster there. Once he was back from school at 3.30, he would rush to NIIT to work on the computers. Most days, he even worked late hours since he had no computer at home. He kept himself updated with books available in the NIIT library. As he continued through the courses NIIT offered, he joined courses offered by Microsoft too.
The first course Dinesh opted for, the Microsoft Certified Solution Developer course, he found easy. He could easily grasp Visual Basic, Microsoft SQL server, Windows architecture, etc. But the examination was very difficult for the 12-year-old.
"I found questions like, 'If you are a software developer in a big company, how will you take decisions at the right time?' very tough. But soon I learnt to look in the right direction and in fact I started thinking myself as a software developer in a very big company! And, I cleared all the four examinations in one week."
In June 1999, when he was 12, Dinesh became the world's youngest Microsoft Certified Solution Developer. But Dinesh could not stop there.
As a part of the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, Dinesh began learning Windows NT Workstation, Windows NT server enterprise, TCIP, Microsoft SQL server and networking essentials. Even though the course had 10 papers, he wrote only nine -- he'd already cleared Microsoft SQL server earlier. He started writing the exam on the January 22 2000. By February 16, he had cleared all nine papers and, at the age of 13, he became the world's youngest MCSE.
Dinesh now knows C, C++, VC++, MTML, Jscript, VBScript, A.S.P, and Java and database management systems like MS SQL server 6.5, Access and Sybase 10. He has also learnt operating systems like Unix, Windows 95 and 98, NT server and NT workstation.
"When I first joined NIIT Leda, I dreamt of doing an NIIT course and when I joined NIIT, I wanted to do the big course offered by Microsoft. Now I am planning to do projects. From the age of nine, it was a continuous studying for me. I didn't stop my computer classes even for a day! If not for the encouragement from my parents and the NIIT faculty, I don't think I would have achieved what I have acheived now." Dinesh says. But he hadn't really hoped to be an MCSE.
"I did not study for the records. I enjoyed what I was doing. I wanted to be an expert in the field."
He made use of NIIT's computers to practice and the library there to keep himself updated. His grandfather finally gifted him a Celeron-333 MHz last year after he became the youngest MCSD.
Dinesh is so obsessed with computers that he spends around 6-8 hours everyday with it. On holidays, he can be found hunched over the machine. But despite the preoccupation with computers, he comes in the first five in his class.
"We are a middle class family and it is a costly affair for us to spend nearly 200,000 for education. But when he showed so much interest, I couldn't stop him from learning. I was very happy to spend on him since he showed tremendous interest and aptitude in what he was doing." Said Dinesh's father, A V Narasimha Rao, an officer in the meteorological department.
Dinesh was fascinated by programming. He still remembered the first program that he wrote, printing Hello! Now his plans are to introduce new technologies in the market. "I want to create my own backend. In Oracle or SQL server, you don't have the facility to support pictures. It is not a complete Relational database management system, which can satisfy all 12 rules. The RDBMS that we have today satisfy only eleven rules." He plans to include a separate database for pictures and high-level encryption using lesser memory.
"I don't think anything is impossible. If there is a code, there must be a decoder for it! If we can store a picture in a computer, why can't we store the picture in a database? People say it is impossible but I don't think anything is impossible. I also want to create an operating system, which never crashes so that no data will be lost. Or, why do we need an operating system? If we are able to build a computer, why can't we build an operating system in such a way that applications will directly control or operate the hardware? For example, in Windows we can place a desktop image but we cannot move that image. They say it is a complete operating system but it does not provide what I ask. See we operate cell phones without an operating system."
If the government is magnanimous, Dinesh's plans to enroll himself for a BE or a MCA course will materialise.
"If I am allowed to pursue higher studies in computer science, it will be very useful for my further research. I know that had I been in the US, I would have finished my university studies by now. Here I have to study six subjects and that leaves very little time for computer science. I feel very bad about this system. But there is no thrill in going to the US and studying further. I want to study here in India and do something for my country. We do not have the kind of technology that the US has but I want to make India a country like the US or Japan."
And, his ambition: "I want to become a man like Bill Gates. He is my role model and even I want to be a role model."
Hope at least the IT savvy chief minister of Andhra Pradesh is listening to the aspirations of a boy from his state.
Photographs by Sanjay Ghosh
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