Indic Influences on the Mathematical Traditions
By Vinod Varshney
New Delhi: India not only gave the concept of zero to the world, but had influenced many foreign mathematical traditions by its disocoveries. Much was not known until Radha Charan Gupta proved
this by his immaculate research. For his pioneering work he will be honoured at the International Congress of Mathematicians being held in Hyderabad during August 19-27, 2010.
Radha Charan Gupta, currently engaged in extensive research work at Ganita Bharati Institute in his native city Jhansi (Uttar Pradesh, India), will be awarded the Kenneth O. May Prize. It is acknowledged that no scholar in the twentieth century has done more to advance widespread understanding of the development of Indian mathematics. He skillfully analyzed many unknown ingenious mathematical formulas in Sanskrit. He also published several papers on the remarkable mathematical discoveries of the Jaina tradition, many of which had been almost inaccessible to anyone except specialists in Prakrit. He has also traced the influence of Indian mathematical discoveries in foreign traditions, or expounding Jaina, Buddhist or Hindu cosmological theories.
Prof. Gupta’s major contributions in the field include work on the history of development of trigonometry in India. He had been the President of the Association of Mathematics Teachers of India since 1994 until recently. He also founded the journal Ganita Bharati. Radha Charan Gupta was the gold medalist in the M.Sc. mathematics examination at Lucknow in 1957, and earned a Ph.D. in the history of mathematics from Ranchi University in 1971.
He became a professor of mathematics at Birla Institute of Technology, Ranchi in 1982. Mr Gupta is the first Indian to receive this prestigious international award for history of mathematics. His research work is a superb example of objectivity. He maintains, ” Different cultures, including the Indian, have contributed immensely in the development of mathematical knowledge, and it should be recognized by all.” Many would be surprized to know that he has contributed some 500 original international grade research articles, but he even today does not use any modern amenities like computer and internet which could have improved his productivity and visibility many times.
Considering the working conditions his contribution is even more creditable. “Indian mathematics grew maximum in the Gupta Period, also dubbed as Golden Period Of India, and many great names like Aryabhat and Bhaskaracharya emerged. Later for a few centuries there was lull, but again between 14th and 17th century Indian Mathematics grew in South India and such great names as Madhav and Neelkanth emerged, whose contributions have much connection with modern mathematics.”, told Prof Gupta in reply to a question.
He said, “There is no dearth of talent in India, but working environment here is peculiar and the one who can
protect oneself from this, can only contribute something. This is the main reason why any Indian so far could not get the Felds Medal, considered as Maths Nobel Prize.
This article originally appeared in the www.mynews.in.
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