# Recalling Ramanujan on the eve of National Mathematics Day

In the year 2012, this day of December 22 was declared as National Mathematics Day to commemorate the birthday of Srinivasa Ramanujan and his contributions to the field of Mathematics. In his honour, there is one Ramanujan Math Park at Kuppam, in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh and a postal stamp featuring him. Ramanujan is hailed for his natural genius, as he has left behind 4000 original theorems in Mathematics despite his lack of formal education due to a difficult and poverty ridden childhood and a short life-span. There is also a particular numerical figure associated with him.

It is 1729, the smallest number which can be written in the form of sum of cubes of two numbers in two ways, i.e. 1729 = 1³ + 12³ = 9³ + 10³. It is called Ramanujan number. The Ramanujan day is meant to be celebrated at all levels of formal education from schools to varsities by holding various kinds of events and activities to instill the interest for Mathematics among the students and bring in them a sense of appreciation for this subject which they are generally averse to. One can get to know more about Ramanujan by picking up some book on his biography from any library. I want to bring up something else. On this day, let us try to realize how important Mathematics is, with or without having the necessary aptitude to do it. As quoted by Galileo, Mathematics is the language of God. It is the music of reason.

The physical Universe operates mathematically. The design or the layout of everything around us from our homes to a homeland is just the game of algebra and geometry. Mathematics is the basis of everything from money, buildings, and roads to the internet, food production, and even hospitals. We connect and communicate through numbers, be it our house number or lane number or mobile number or car number. We make the measurements, we count, we calculate, we weigh, we estimate, we encompass, we eradicate and we accomplish. Mathematics also encroaches into the intangible things and comes up with greater clarity of otherwise abstract ideas. Mathematics has a transversal nature. Naturalists are unable to provide a reasonable explanation for why Mathematics applies to the physical world.

Calling it a happy coincidence is no explanation at all. For another group of thinkers, the mathematical setting of Universe could not be possible without God himself being a supreme mathematician. Down from God; let us come to the guys on earth and their unfortunate reluctance towards the majesty of Mathematics.

Why do our boys find it boring and why don’t our girls go for it. We hear a lot of them switching from Mathematics to say medieval history. Why do they go to seek a refuge in poems or lean in literature? To my understanding, there is no problem in as far as the contents of syllabi in Mathematics are concerned nor do the teachers undo what they are meant to do. The problem essentially lies in lack of motivation especially in terms of glory of careers offered in future thereby driving the best brains elsewhere. The governments must think of offering prestigious positions to mathematical wizards working on real life problems than those rendering us a routine substandard service.

According to a UNESCO report, released in January of 2022, only 12.3 per cent of Indian lower secondary school students (aged 10–16) are proficient in basic mathematics. Declining mathematical aptitude

is not just a neighboring problem but it is global. As for instance, in a report released in June of this year, the average math score has fallen by 9 points between 2020 and 2023 in the National Assessment of Educational Progress of the sample of 8700 number of 13-year-old students in the U. S. A. This has been called a deep learning loss and needs much more than a swift academic recovery after Covid-19 crisis.

The international commission on mathematical instruction (ICMI) has laid huge emphasis on placing Mathematics as an important subject in overall curriculum. If we reflect on the history of curriculum in general, then mathematics (geometry and algebra) were two of the seven liberal arts in Greek as well as in medieval times. This historical role supports the notion that mathematics has provided the mental might required for other disciplines such as biological, chemical and earth sciences, engineering, economics, social sciences, statistics, electronics, and even music and art.

Mathematical literacy is taken to include basic computational skills, quantitative reasoning, and spatial ability. Mathematics may not be a whole life to us but it is definitely the lifeline especially in the era we have ushered in and without which we shall cease to have a meaningful existence. A naive idea from a clean and uncorrupted mind being worked out on a blank paper with a pencil and an eraser on the side (for the need to redo) involves a great deal of thought process. It is a far more productive process (both for the individual and for the society) than reading the ready-hand books in prose and poetry which may eat up our own originality of thoughts unique to every individual. Poems do not perform, parameters do. Emulations do not execute without equations. Moreover if one wants to communicate to God, one has to learn His language in letter and in spirit.

Dr. Qudsia Gani, Head Department of Physics Govt. Degree College, Pattan, Baramulla