In early 1890s, the parents of a boy living in Kumbakonam, India couldn’t afford to provide for him as needed, they sent him to live with his maternal grandparents. Then he spent the next few years moving back and forth between his maternal and paternal grandparents households. Along the way the boy developed strong interest and aptitude for mathematics. In his early teens he managed to master advanced trigonometry and started discovering sophisticated theorems on his own. At the age of 16, someone gave him a copy of G. S. Carr‘s A Synopsis of Elementary Results in Pure and Applied Mathematics. He studied the book in details, and the following year he independently developed and investigated famous mathematicians theories. His name was Srinivasa Ramanujan.
After dropping out of college to work as a mathematician to provide for his family, no institution was willing to give him a chance. Some believed he was a fluke, others were held back by the fact he had no formal higher education. While working as a clerk to make ends meet, Ramanujan was linked with a professor at Cambridge University, Godfrey Herold Hardy (G.H. Hardy). From there, with the help of Hardy and others in his circle, Ramanujan made substantial contributions to pure mathematics, including field of mathematical analysis, number theory, infinite series, and came up with solutions to mathematical problems considered to be unsolvable.
Need to Nurture talent
Most of us believe that the intelligent people who are to shape our future are scientists, economists, engineers, scholars from prestigious universities and colleges, that all talented people we are packed in certain countries, cities in the world. Therefore it is very convenient to ignore the fact there are a lot of very talented individuals, kids like Ramanujan with rare potential living in the underdeveloped parts of the world whose talents can be crucial to solving some of the problems we face as a civilization. The cold hard fact is most of these kids will not have the chance develop their talent due to lack opportunity and access to necessary resources. Therefore, they will not have the chance to make their contribution to the world.
Simply accepting this cold hard fact might have been ok in the past, but now that we are faced with a sense of urgency to solve existential problems as a species, we need a much larger pool of talented people working on the solutions to these problems. And it is certain that all the necessary talents are not within the 100 miles radius.
What we often fail to realize is the fact the intelligent people we know or have heard of have been given the chance to succeed. They’ve had the resources and support necessary to enable them to succeed, and in majority, that’s the reason they could accomplish what they have accomplished. The talented people in the underdeveloped communities and countries are in need of these same opportunities in order to succeed.
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Increase the odd of the human civilization’s continued existence
We have had major breakthroughs in science and technology, but the truth is there are still a ton of problems that still baffle our most brilliant scientists, economist and other scholars; numerous diseases that are still mysteries to researchers and doctors, cancer is estimated to kill about 7.5 million people annually, whole populations being displaced due to sea level rise due to global warming with no viable solution in sight, doctors and scientists are still puzzled by the human brain, etc. Some people whom nature has equipped with the ability, the talent to help figure out some of these riddles may not be able to attend prestigious universities, they may not have the mean to be where geniuses are expected to be found. Therefore, it is imperative that we find them, to link them to their G.H. Hardy. The main problem in the underdeveloped countries is definitely not a lack of talent. It is just a lack of access to resource.
When we provide all talented people with a chance to excel, we increase our pool of problem solvers, of innovators, of the people pushing the world forward. We increase the odd of the human civilization’s continued existence.