Young minds not pursuing maths, says PM (Lead)

December 26th, 2011 - 5:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh Chennai, Dec 26 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Monday expressed concern that young minds with a natural ability for mathematics were not pursuing the discipline at an advanced level, resulting in a “decline in the quality of maths teachers at the school and college level”.

In his inaugural speech at a function to mark the 125th birth anniversary of eminent mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan, the prime minister said there was a “general perception that pursuit of maths does not lead to attractive career possibilities”.

“This perception may have been valid some years ago but today there are many new career opportunities available to mathematicians and the teaching profession itself has become much more attractive in recent years,” he said.

He declared 2012 as the National Mathematics Year and Dec 22, the day Ramanujan was born, as Mathematics Day.

“The mathematical community has the duty to find ways and means to address the shortage of top quality mathematicians in the country. It must reach out to the public, especially in the modern context where mathematics has tremendous influence on every kind of human endeavour,” he said.

Stating that mathematics can be regarded as the mother science, Manmohan Singh said natural sciences have had a symbiotic relationship with mathematics.

“Life Sciences did not seem to have much use for mathematics till about a hundred years ago, but lately mathematical interventions have had tremendous impact on biology,” he said.

A noted economist himself, Manmohan Singh said: “The work of many of the Nobel laureates in Economics is highly mathematical.”

“Aryabhata in the fifth century, followed by Brahmagupta in the next are recorded to be among the all-time great mathematicians. And we taught the world to think of zero as a number and the modern way of representing all numbers with 10 symbols,” the prime minister remarked.

He said Indian mathematics continued to remain in the forefront after Aryabhata almost for a thousand years and cited Madhava to have discovered the essentials of Calculus.

After a long gap, it was during the second decade of 20th century that the country could once again stake claim to producing world class mathematics and that was because of Ramanujan, he said.

Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal, also precent at the occasion, said Ramanujan’s life shows that it is not necessary to have a regular university degree.

Union Ministers G.K. Vasan, Jayanthi Natarajan, V.Narayanasamy were also present at the function.

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