Mathematics is a nightmare for many students world over. Mathematical anxiety or maths phobia is a serious issue that several students face.
But for Vivek Raj from Kerala's Alappuzha district, mathematical calculations are a breeze. Give this 30-year-old any single or double-digit number and he can multiply or add it to itself as fast as lightning to produce even 12-digit numbers!
While all of us watched Vidya Balan's stellar performance as Indian math genius Shakuntala Devi in the biopic, did we Keralites know about our own human calculator?
Vivek was in class 7 when his father gifted him a calculator. But by the time he grew up, he himself became the calculator!
"I was interested in numbers right from childhood. I love playing and calculating with numbers. This is not something I have to sit and take effort to study. It's something that I enjoy doing. It comes to me naturally. What do you do when you look at a number plate or a date calendar? I tend to multiply the numbers with itself for as many times as I can calculate. It's fun for me," says Vivek.
Vivek likely developed this unique talent with numbers after studying the 1965 book Vedic Mathematics by Bharati Krishna Tirtha. The book contains techniques to solve mathematical arithmetics in an easy and faster way.
Vivek uses these tricks as well as the ones he has developed over the years to help students overcome their fear of Mathematics. He also runs an educational centre named Vedic Math Monastery in Alappuzha district.
In 2016, Vivek made it to the Limca Book of Records for his two most astounding feats - fastest addition and multiplication. Raj was given the number 67 by the examiners, and he multiplied it five times (67 x 67 = 4,489 x 67 = 3,00,763...) within 15 seconds and got an 11-digit answer.
"I want to change the way how students look at maths. Many of the students are extremely scared of it — even to attempt it! That is basically because of how it has been taught to them for so many years. There are many methods to learn maths easily. Vedic Maths should be a part of our curriculum. I have requested our Education minister to implement the math technique in schools," says Vivek.
"Unlike science or history, maths need not be done in a particular way. Competitive exams can also be cleared easily once students are able to crack maths problems as time management to find the right answers is also important," the wizard added.
Vivek hopes to be a changemaker in today's educational system. From students as old as 10 years to a 70-year-old student, Vivek helps them to learn and love maths the way he does.