K Visalini – the teenager with the highest IQ in the world – in an interview with ParentCircle, speaks about success and intelligence.
By Arun Sharma and Amrita Gracias
She is a teen who has delivered lectures at various renowned institutions, addressed international conferences as a chief guest and keynote speaker and even delivered a speech in the presence of more than 700 scientists on the invitation of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). She is also the youngest person to have obtained 13 international certifications from CISCO, Microsoft and Oracle, which individuals usually attempt to obtain after completing their master’s degree or when looking to enhance their career. But, in the case of this child prodigy, it all began at the tender age of 10!
Surprised how someone can do all this even before she has stepped out of her teens? Well, don’t be. She is Visalini, the girl who holds the record for having the highest IQ in the world — a phenomenal score of 225!
Visalini talks to ParentCircle about her areas of interest, her experience of delivering a lecture at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and her plans for the future. She also has a word of advice for youngsters pursuing higher studies.
PC: You hold the record for the highest IQ of 225 in the world. Tell us something about how it was measured?
KV: IQ or Intelligence Quotient isn’t something that can be measured by just anyone, and neither is it an assumed value. The right person to measure an individual’s IQ is a clinical psychologist. In my case too, a clinical psychologist conducted a series of tests to calculate my IQ.
PC: Were there any specific incidents that made your family realise that you were different from other children, as far as intelligence was concerned?
KV: When I was about one and a half years old, I used to ask my parents many hypothetical questions. For instance, I asked why raindrops fell from the sky to the earth and not the other way round! Or, why fishes lived in water and couldn’t move out of it. My grandparents were teachers, so there were pieces of chalk lying around our house. Using them, I began to draw on the floor. My parents noticed that I could draw a perfect circle freehand when I was just one and a half years old. And, I told them that the circle was, in fact, my mother’s smile! All these things made my parents realise there was something special in me and that I was different from other children.
PC: Tell us about your interaction with the Prime Minister, Mr Narendra Modi.
KV: My father received a call from the Prime Minister’s office saying that the Prime Minister would like to speak to me. We initially dismissed it as a prank call but after further communication, realised that the call was indeed from the Prime Minister’s office! So, via video conference, I spoke with Mr Modi. During our conversation, I told about my achievements, and he said, “Visalini, whatever you have achieved at this young age is a great service to our country, India!”
PC: You have numerous certifications in the field of IT. Do you have a special liking for the field of computer engineering? How did you develop that interest?
KV: Yes, I have a liking for computer science. It was my initial interest and I started with networking. But, I have also developed an interest in Artificial Intelligence (AI). Research on AI is increasing world-wide and I have read about it extensively on the Internet as well as from books. From the moment I began reading about AI, I was fascinated by it and would like to do research in this field in the future. Although computer science was my preference, I am now moving forward with my interest in AI.
PC: You have addressed various international conferences. Tell us about these.
KV: Yes, I have addressed 11 international conferences, all of which were attended by some very senior delegates from around the world. I was invited to address these gatherings as the chief guest and keynote speaker at the age of 11. I am also the world’s youngest TEDx and Google speaker.
PC: You were invited by ISRO to deliver a lecture to 700+ scientists. Tell us something about that experience.
KV: It was truly the most memorable moment of my life when I was asked to address more than 700 ISRO scientists. I was even presented with a memento of the Mangalyan, the satellite that was sent to Mars by ISRO. To me, this is the most prestigious souvenir that one can receive from one’s country. Anything else is easily available in a shop, but you can never get a satellite! I received a standing ovation from the scientists. Once again, I would like to express my gratitude to the director of ISRO, Dr Mylswamy Annadurai, for providing me the opportunity.
PC: You were born with a degree of speech impairment and your mother used to read to you while you were a child. Do you think that all that early reading that you were exposed to contributed in some way to increasing your IQ?
KV: Actually, IQ is not something that can increase or decrease. It is almost like a quantum value given by nature, or God. Reading may help increase your knowledge; but, your IQ always remains constant. It has nothing to do with your interests or passions, and it’s also different from your memory power. One does not influence the other. People tend to confuse the two easily. So, it is important to know the difference between them.
PC: So, you say that IQ cannot be improved at all?
KV: Not just me, even science has proved it as well! However, I am sure you would have heard of drugs or tablets in the market that claim to improve IQ levels. I would like to request the public through this interview to not fall for these false claims. No drugs can increase IQ. If this were true, it would be possible for everyone to have a high IQ. And, my IQ wouldn’t have stopped at 225, it would have increased greatly!
PC: What is the role of your parents in your achievements? And, what have you learnt from them?
KV: They are my backbone and the reason for my achievements; and, they continue to take me forward. I have learnt important skills like time-management and decision-making from them. They are good role models. My mother has also helped me learn the importance of ‘time to work and time to play’ — when it is time to work, focus on nothing else; and in the remaining time, you can do everything else. I will always remain grateful to my parents!
PC: What are the other activities that you like to pursue?
KV: I am a district level swimmer. Swimming is a good physical exercise. It keeps me fit. I also play chess, which helps me a lot with my concentration. I am a bharatanatyam dancer and am well- versed in Sanskrit slokas. I have learnt these entirely on my own with absolutely no professional training. In fact, my mother often complains that I dance all the time!
PC: How did you manage to deal with all the success, and the resulting attention, at such a young age?
KV: I always credit my success to the grace of the Divine. It is something that I have been blessed with. I don’t consider my age or my experience as factors that determine my success. In fact, people may regard me as popular, but I am just a regular teenager. People tend to think that I’m always studying, but, at times, I’m just a lazy teen who wants to go to bed late and get up late!
PC: What are your plans for the future?
KV: I want to first complete my PhD and research. Then, it is my dream to open my own firm in my home town of Tirunelveli so that I can create job opportunities for the locals. Nowadays, it is common for people to move to bigger cities to work in the IT sector. So, I would like to create a technology hub right here to provide them with similar opportunities. This is something I would like to do for the place of my birth.
PC: What is your advice to youngsters in general?
KV: Don’t work or study 24x7! It is enough if you study for just an hour or two. But, make sure you put in all your effort during this time and don’t let distractions like social media come in between. Understand the concepts rather than just mugging up the lessons. Also, choose your subjects for higher studies based on your preferences instead of pursuing something that someone else has chosen for you. Although my father wanted me to become a doctor and my mother wanted me to become a professor, they gave me the freedom to choose my career. They guided me, but I chose the field of computer science, especially networking, out of my own interest. I would like to request parents to guide their children but give them the freedom to choose their career. And, I don’t think I would have excelled in something that was forced on me. So, make your own decisions and follow your own passions. Your teenage years are the best time of your life; so, enjoy them. Remember that marks don’t define you. They will not get you everywhere, but knowledge will.
*Visit Visalini’s website www.kvisalini.com, which she created on her own at the age of eleven.
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