a tribute to maths wizard Srinivasa Ramanujan, Prime Minister Manmohan
Singh on Monday voiced concern over the “badly inadequate” number of
competent mathematicians in the country.
number of competent mathematicians that we have is badly inadequate”, he
said at a function to here mark the 125th birth anniversary of
Singh also declared December 22, the birthday of Ramanujan, as ‘National Mathematics Day.’
Students have not pursued mathematics at advanced levels over
more than three decades, which has resulted in a decline in quality of
mathematics teachers at schools and colleges, Singh who is on a two-day
visit to the state, told a galaxy of academics at Madras University.
“There is a general perception in our society that the pursuit of
mathematics does not lead to attractive career possibilities. This
perception must change. This perception may have been valid some years
ago, but today there are many new career opportunities available to
mathematics and the teaching perception itself has become much more
attractive in recent years”, Singh said.
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
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
He said Ramanujan overcame formidable difficulties to reach the
pinnacle of greatness, illustrating the inadequacy of University
evaluation system in the early decades of the last century, while at the
same time showing the system displayed enough flexibility to take care
of mavericks like him.
“There have been many reforms since those days but there would
still be talent which would elude proper evaluation. Our institutions of
higher learning must be sensitive to this problem.”
“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.
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