NEP will help India regain its love of mathematics
Numbers are one of the most innovative ideas of humanity. They make our daily life comfortable and simple. Imagine if there were no numbers, how difficult it would have been to measure, count, access, record and quantify different parameters. The branch of knowledge that deals with the study of numbers, that is, mathematics, is one of the most prominent disciplines that has a “continuum” of applications from “zero to infinity”. Sometimes “difference” between “chaos” and “stability”, sometimes “integrates” different disciplines of knowledge. It takes us to the “limits” of truth and encompasses the different “dimensions” of experience. It makes “complex” things “real” and fascinates us with the notions of “games” and “probability.”
Discipline is inherently attractive and it takes a beautiful mind to master it. Srinivasa Ramanujan is one of those geniuses that India has produced. Today we celebrate the birthday of Srinivasa Ramanujan as the National Day of Mathematics; I bow my head to this genius. Looking at his genius and reading about his notebooks and his life, it seems that Ramanujan came to this world to serve solely the discipline of mathematics. He solved many complex problems independently and made pioneering contributions to number theory.
Bharatvarsh has a rich tradition and various contributions to mathematics since ancient times.
“Like the crest of a peacock, like a gem on the head of a serpent, so is mathematics at the head of all knowledge.”
This verse from Vedanga Jyotisha (500 BC) is testimony to the pedestal on which we keep Mathematics. Mathematics or Ganit is a dominant discipline in India since ancient times, and the legacy has continued for generations through Guru-Shishya parampara, books and works.
The Shulba Sutras written in 800-500 BC. C. contain geometric shape concepts such as square, rectangle, and right triangle and square roots, etc. Pythagorean triples are also highlights of the Shulba Sutras. Acharya Pingala in 300 BC. C. illustrated the idea of sunyata or zero for the first time. There is also evidence of zero as a placeholder in the Bakhshali manuscript. In the 5th century AD, Aryabhata gave the basis of the decimal system and calculated the value of Pi to four decimal places. Brahmagupta in the 7th century AD clearly defined and used zero and mentioned negative numbers. His treatises Brāhmasphuṭasiddhānta and Khandakhadyaka have detailed illustrations on series, geometry, arithmetic, and algebra, to name a few. Sridharacharya in the 9th century was the pioneer in finding the roots of a quadratic equation. Siddhanta Shiromani has written in four volumes, namely Lilavati, Bijaganita, Grahagaṇita and Goladhyaya by the legendary Bhaskaracharya. These four volumes have complex mathematical ideas in the form of verses. Lilavati was reportedly his daughter and the text is written for her. The works of Bhaskaracharya have theorems and concepts of modern calculus, arithmetic, trigonometry, algebra and astronomy.
In modern times, Indian mathematicians have also solved crucial problems. Ramanujan is the epitome of mathematical excellence, apart from him mathematicians like CR Rao, CS Seshadri, to name a few, have rendered an immense service to the discipline. Our IITs have also solved some critical math problems by creating the AKS (Aggarwal-Kayal-Saxsena) primality test and the Karmarkar algorithm to illustrate some cases. Professor Manjul Bhargava, who won the Fields medal, which is equivalent to the Nobel, brought laurels to India through his number theory.
Our contributions to the discipline are of great importance since the genesis of the field. The new National Education Policy 2020 (NEP) has a meaningful provision and provides a platform to build, nurture, foster, encourage and multiply mathematical thinking. It has introduced the reforms necessary to balance the need for employment and entrepreneurship in the 21st century, which is marked by critical, lateral and mathematical thinking. The NEP appreciated the need for mathematical thinking and its importance for the country to become a vishwaguru. Big data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchains are key technologies today, and mathematics is at the core of all these technologies. Therefore, it is essential to develop the computational thinking abilities of our young people. NEP provides the necessary nourishment by making mathematics enjoyable and engaging using innovative methods from the fundamental step itself. Introducing a high school coding curriculum is also required at NEP as it helps develop computational skills and intuitive reasoning.
Because the applications of mathematics are broad and diverse, by introducing the multidisciplinary curriculum and credit-based mechanism, NEP provides flexibility for students to apply their knowledge. These reforms will be of particular importance to the math-inclined student. In addition, policy provisions to establish Math clubs in Institutions of Higher Education for better interdisciplinary collaboration and research.
I am sure that the Indian mathematics and education system is destined to “rise” under the shadow of NEP. All the ideas of politics are the cornerstone of a self-sufficient India, a vibrant vishwaguru!