Students must learn about country's true legacy in maths, not myths: Manjul Bhargava

Textbooks must highlight works of ancient mathematicians: Fields Medal winner

Students must learn about country's true legacy in maths, not myths: Manjul Bhargava

When Manjul Bhargava, winner of the prestigious Fields Medal in 2014, learned about mathematical theories and equations in school, he was shocked to find many of them named after Western scholars when there were Indians who had arrived at the same conclusions first.

Bhargava, professor of Maths at Princeton University, has a chance to change that as a member of the panel entrusted by the union ministry of human resources development with the responsibility of framing the new National Education Policy .

Though he declined to comment on the work of the committee, Bhargava offered his views on Maths education in the country, in a conversation with DH.

Since his grandfather, Purushottam Lal Bhargava, was a scholar of Sanskrit and ancient Indian texts, Bhargava learned a lot about Mathematics through these texts and was inspired by the works of Mathematicians like Bhaskara II and Pingala.

"When I came across the same concepts later in school, I was shocked that these ancient mathematicians were not mentioned. In fact, the way I learned these concepts from ancient Indian texts was actually better," he said.

Bhargava believes there needs to be a scientific, accurate study of the works of these greats, since very little is known about them today.

"There is a vast amount to be studied and a lot of this research is happening outside India. This effort needs to be taken up by Indian mathematicians. India needs to be its own cultural and scientific ambassador," he said.

This knowledge has to be incorporated into school textbooks so that students know the country's true legacy , not myths. "It does a disservice to that legacy when things that are not quite true and things that are true are said in the same breath," he said.

As a pet project, Bhargava intends to compile and publish a book on the works of ancient Indian mathematicians.

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