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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

‘Mathematics, Sanskrit should go hand-in-hand’

There is an immediate need to connect Sanskrit with mathematics and both subjects should be taught together to make “ancient scientific language” flourish in India and other countries, says the first Indian-origin mathematician to win the coveted Fields Medal.

Sanskrit needs to be connected and taught with other Indian languages, said Manjul Bhargava, 40, who has ancestral roots in Jaipur and is working on a Sanskrit-mathematics-based curriculum suitable for students of class 5 to 10. The wizard of numbers is likely to meet Human Resource Development minister Smriti Irani on January 15 to discuss his project.

“Sanskrit and mathematics should not be taught in isolation, as is happening at present. The ancient language naturally connects to mathematics and other Indian languages,” he said.

“There is need for curriculum modification and refresher courses for teachers that would enable them to teach Sanskrit-mathematics in new perspective” Bhargava told HT.

He came to Jaipur after attending the Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas in Gujarat and the recently held Indian Science Congress.

All the economically and scientifically developed countries like France, Germany, China, and Japan take pride in their own languages and prefer English just as a second language, he said.

“India was colonised for long time period during which Indian culture was de-emphasised. Now it’s time to de-colonise and change the colonial mind set as China and Japan have done,” said Bhargava stressing that India needs to free herself from such mindset to become a global leader — scientifically, economically and culturally.

“India is one of the few countries trying to give preference to a foreign language (English). It should be a secondary language and all the subjects should be taught in Hindi, Sanskrit or in other Indian languages,” he suggested.

Bhargava claims that a large number of computer scientists and mathematicians in the world study Sanskrit for better understanding of subjects but the language is ignored in its native country.

Bhargava, who was afraid of Mathematics classes, started loving numbers after reading Sanskrit books of his grandfather Purushottam Lal Bhargava who taught the language at University of Rajasthan.

“Learning mathematics will become fun and interest in Sanskrit too will increase through the new curriculum which will have creative elements. In fact, all Indian languages must be given importance so that they can be connected with employment,” said Bhargava who teaches a course ‘Magic of Numbers’ built by combining Sanskrit and mathematics at Princeton University.

On his next visit to Jaipur, Bhargava plans to share his ‘Magic of Numbers’ with some local schools. The course is an amalgamation of Sanskrit, mathematics, classical music, magic and games, he elaborated.

Mathematics, Sanskrit should go hand-in-hand’
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