Can you read blindfolded? This 8-year-old can

  • Rohit Vats, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 06, 2015 15:56 IST

Samyak Jain, a class 3 student at Delhi's Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, claims he is a good painter, loves origami, is a voracious reader, and, like any other 8-year-old, says his cycle tops the list of his most precious possessions. But there is one thing that sets him totally different from other children: Samyak says he can do all this, and much more, completely blindfolded!

Samyak is no miracle, and neither is he a nature's freak. He simply says that whatever he is able to do is the result of hard training: His mid-brain is activated with the help of a well thought-out programme that enables him to function as good as anybody else, but with his eyes closed. Says his father Sharat Jain, a finance analyst: “We came to know of the mid-brain activation technique while searching for neuro-science related stuff some years ago. This concept has been in vogue for more than two decades in countries like Malaysia, Singapore and Japan. By the time Samyak’s summer vacations were over, I started looking for something similar in India and found that a similar centre has been opened near our place.”

One of the happier children in the times of those energy-sapping homework and co-curricular activities, Samyak appears more child like than any of his friends. He counts dancing and singing among his hobbies, but somehow his innocence is preserved in the times of Honey Singhs and so-called stand-up comedians.

It was difficult to believe his claims in the first meeting as he looked as normal, if not ordinary, as most children, but there was one striking feature about his persona, he seemed unusually calm. It was natural to not trust the proud parents, even if it was about a child, so the outcome was largely dependent on the second meeting.

This time, Samyak seemed more forthcoming. He talked about his friends, seniors at school and hobbies. "Bhanavya is my best friend," said Samyak. When I met him the next time, he was sitting with his friends Raghav and Anushka. This time, he said Raghav was his best friend and then he explained the difference, "Ek school ka best friend hai, aur ek ghar ka."

Seniors treat him as a wonder kid at school, “Bhaiyya, didi log bula ke bahut saare sawaal poochte hain.” Did you not enjoy the attention? He sheepishly says, “I do.”

The mid-brain, also known as mesencephalon, is responsible for our visual and auditory senses. Sharat elaborates, “The mid-brains of children go into some kind of hibernation state by the time they are born. It can be re-activated through unique sound waves, but only in the age bracket of 5 to 15 years.”

In scientific parlance, mid-brain activation is a technique that utilises the capabilities of the area in between the left and right brains. This area works as the processer of information and channelise the communication between the two sides. "In Mahabharata, we read about Sanjay who could narrate the incidents of the battle field while sitting somewhere else. It could be due to the activation of his mid-brain. We also hear about saints who could tell things without looking at objects. The unique music of temple bells could have activated their mid-brains, but of course we can’t say anything with surety," explains Sharat.

While cross-examining the claims of Samyak’s prowess, it was quite evident that the child is enjoying the attention he is getting. “We consulted some neurologists and they said it’s normal. Samyak is a very calm and happy child. He has been told to not take media exposure very seriously. Had this training been here some 20-30 years ago, we would have also been benefitted,” added Sharat.

At one point during our interaction with Samyak, we used three layers of blinders on his eyes, but it didn't have any effect on the boy. But then this, his teacher Yogendra Jain says, is just the beginning. “Samyak has completed the first level. In the second level, the child’s reading speed will be accelerated so much so that he can get an idea of the content by just flipping through the pages of a book.”

But why change children into robots? “In a way, we are helping children to cope with the growing pressure of today’s competitive world by making them more efficient at the fundamental level,” argues Yogendra.

There is no indigenous company in the business so far, but the growing number of mid-brain activation centers is bound to attract the Indian players. "I work for a Malaysian company. I got my own 10-year-old son trained first and the changes in his thought process were fascinating. There is no such training for the grown-ups for now," added Yogendra.

Rachna, Samyak's doting mother, vouches for the difference she can see in her child's personality since the beginning of the classes. “He wasn’t at all interested in music, dance and painting, but now he is doing everything.” This task becomes even more difficult in a society which is optimally scared to visit counselors.

Saloni, a medical aspirant and Samyak’s elder sister, says what most people think after meeting the child prodigy, “I am curious how he does it. It would have been nice if I could have also received a similar training. But, it’s ok, my friends like him and that makes me happy.”

(Interact with Rohit Vats at Twitter/@nawabjha)

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