Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has declared 2012 ‘national mathematics year’ in honor of maths wizard Srinivasa Ramanujan’s 150th birth anniversary. The Prime Minister who made the declaration at a function honoring Ramanujan in Chennai, also said Ramanujan overcame formidable difficulties to reach the pinnacle of greatness, illustrating the inadequacy of the university evaluation system in the early decades of the last century, while at the same time showing that the system displayed enough flexibility to take care of mavericks like him.
He said the country was proud of Ramanujan and Tamil Nadu has a special claim on him for he was a Tamilian.
“Along with CV Raman and Subramanyam Chandrashekhar (both Nobel laureates), he is among the three great men of science and mathematics that Tamil Nadu and India have given to the world of modern times”, he said.
Singh also said that the perception that the pursuit of mathematics does not lead to attractive career possibilities must change. “It is a matter of concern that for a country of our size, the number of competent mathematicians we have is badly inadequate”, he said. Singh also said that this had resulted in a situation where the quality od mathematics teachers at schools and colleges has declined.
The Prime Minister said the mathematical community has a duty to find out “ways and means” to address the shortage of top quality mathematicians and reach out to the public, especially in the modern context, where mathematics has tremendous influence on every kind of human endeavour.
Noting that the Central government has pursued a policy of encouraging scientific activities of diverse kinds, the Prime Minister said, “Given our traditions, we naturally attach special importance to mathematics…in many ways, mathematics can be regarded as the mother science”.
“A genius like Ramanujan would shine bright even in the most adverse of circumstances, but we should be geared to encourage and nurture good talent which may not be of the same calibre as that of Ramanujan”, Singh said.
Honouring Professor Robert Kanigel, who has written a biography of Ramanujan, Singh said this book has made Ramanujan well known to the public at large all over the world.