India has been a global leader for ages, being the epicentre of civilization and education. The country is known for producing the best of brains in all dimensions from arts and philosophy to mathematics.
Mathematicians like Aryabhata, Bhaskara, Bramhagupta, and Mahavira have shaped the foundation of mathematics worldwide. The legendary mathematician Aryabhata (476 AD to 550 AD) is credited with inventing the numerical ‘zero’ as early as the 5th century- which was way before anyone around the globe had an idea about it. Meanwhile, Bramhagupta is known for the practical application of numbers for arithmetic purposes.
A brief insight into Srinivasa Ramanujan’s life:
The modern-day pioneers are no less than their predecessors. India’s love for mathematics and science is proven by prodigious sons like Srinivasa Ramanujan, born on 22nd December 1887 in Erode, Mysore State, British India (presently located in Tamil Nadu, India).
Ramanujan’s love for mathematics was discovered at a very early age when he mastered school-level mathematics at the age of 11. His initial exposure to trigonometry was through the book written by S.L. Loney, and by age of 13, he started developing his complex theorems. Throughout his school days, Ramanujan remained an unbeatable intellect capturing all certificates and awards for academic excellence.
A post-schooling career for the mathematics genius was a bit tough, living through acute poverty for most of his adulthood. His lack of interest in other subjects and poor performance forced him to step out of college with a Fellow of Arts degree. Despite all failures, Ramanujan’s passion for the subject of numbers and theorems got him more than desired fame and recognition worldwide.
English mathematician G.H Hardy, recognised the actual potential of Ramanujan and later on, the pair went on to become one of the most prominent mathematicians of all time with ground-breaking theorems.
Srinivasan left for heavenly adobe at the very young age of 32 on 26 April 1920, leaving behind a rich legacy of inspiration for the upcoming math enthusiasts.
The 23-year-old mathematician, Neelkantha Bhanu Prakash is also inspired by Ramanujan and vowed to eradicate Arithmophobia (fear of numbers) amongst the youngsters. In an exclusive session with Odishatv.in on World Mathematics Day 2022, Bhanu shared his deep insights for developing an aptitude for mathematics.
Apart from being recognised by BBC as the “World’s fastest human calculator”, with more than 50 Limca Book records in his name, Neelkantha has also garnered fame as a mathematics teacher by choice.
How to develop an interest in numbers:
On being asked about what makes students Math phobic, he said, “The fundamental of mathematics lies in the teaching process, and the teachers often horribly present the subject. For insistence, you will never find a student scoring zero in literature but in the case of Maths, for writing the wrong answer a student is directly awarded a zero.”
“There should be a lenient approach towards learning Maths, without making it look difficult. Students should be nourished with basics and be allowed to explore the subject in a natural way rather than being forced to learn,” he said.
In short, to develop an interest in numbers, one must learn the subject as people learn any language. First, they learn the basics and then go deep into details such as grammar and phonetics, he explained.
Integration of mathematics in the modern-day education system:
Neelkantha also elaborated on the importance of the integration of mathematics in modern-day education. On being asked about his ideas about the amalgamation of mathematics in the education system, he said, “To integrate Maths into the modern-day education system, the shift in ideology is very important. Math is still perceived as just a subject to read till grade 10. As people realise Math as an essential skill as we grow, the way it gets into the curriculum and teaching will also change.”
Mathematics phobia emerges from lack of understanding of the subject. The subject should be taught as an essential need for day-to-day life’s application. It should be promoted in form of assignments, projects and interactive sessions.
National Mathematics Day, and its aim:
National Mathematics Day was first time celebrated in the year 2012. The day not only acts as an occasion to observe the contribution of Srinivasa Ramanujan but also to make people aware of the importance of learning Maths.
In a developing country like India, where still a large section of the population is deprived of basic education, learning basic mathematics is believed to help people eradicate several problems. Mathematics is as important as the mother tongue, and one must cherish learning numbers by adopting the subject deemed to be villainous by nature as a friend for life.