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Reality TV hunts for India's smartest kid

April 23, 2004 15:54 IST
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While in some parts of the world reality TV sets out to see who can survive the longest eating bugs on an island or in a house with roommates from hell, in India the focus is more cerebral -- finding the brightest kid in the land.

Rupert Murdoch's Star World satellite channel in January launched a search for the greatest child genius in India, the nation which brought the world the complex concept of 'zero'. Some 18,000 whiz kids applied.

The numbers have now been whittled down to 320, and a 27-episode TV event will be launched on May 25, entitled 'India Child Genius', to find the country's top brainbox.

The show will be conducted by quiz maestro Siddharth Basu from Star's New Delhi studios.

During the hour-long weekly show, the children -- aged between 10 and 13 -- will be tested on their verbal and non-verbal reasoning skills, their literary and artistic abilities and on mathematical and scientific concepts, Star officials said.

A standard quiz will also be held during which the smarties will be grilled on subjects such as geography, history, mythology, the English language and general knowledge.

Their ability to spell will also be put under the television spotlight.

The show will be run along the lines of 'Pop Idols', including interviews with kids, parents and teachers, with the aim of turning the winner into a national star.

The brainiest of them all will be able to boast the title 'India's Child Genius'. Prizes worth Rs 50 lakh (Rs 5 million) are also at stake.

Star, which dominates ratings in India, made its name in July 2000 when it launched Kaun Banega Crorepati, a Hindi equivalent of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, hosted by Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan.

Station chiefs are confident 'Genius' will draw the same sort of audiences.

With emphasis in India on academic excellence -- to the point where some children hang themselves from ceiling fans when they fail their exams -- and with Indians priding themselves on their cognitive and numerical skills, their confidence may be justified.

-- AFP

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