Nisar Sultan Lone
The successful launch of Vikram lander on the southern hemisphere of the moon is celebrated throughout the country and rightly so as it indeed is a huge achievement for ISRO in particular and for the country in general. With this feat India becoming the fourth and first to send the roller on the southern part of the moon. The project being an indigenous enterprise certainly deserves accolades from every corner and quarter. Here it is sine qua non to touch upon the factuality of such historic discovery which certainly in my opinion is a consequence of the inspiration ascending from the fore fathers like the tiger of Mysore, Tippu Sultan. Since his era India has been doing well in this area of research. His ingenuity in rocket science has been a source of inspiration for Indian scientists. The space research is in a way an inherited character of Indian scientists. In this piece I will elaborate upon the positive impact of this success on our society.
In 2004, I was on my way to Indian Institute of Science (IISC) Bangalore to participate in a conference at Math’s department of the Institute. During the same time A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, the missile man of India was serving as president of the country. While travelling by train to Bangalore my fellow passenger asked me about my visit, to which I said that I am a research scholar and am going to IISC on hearing this some more people came sat around me and were curiously asking about the research and the TATA institute. I found them thrilled as I was someone who arrived from some different planet, actually those days a news had surfaced that Kalam has a lab in IISC and he is carrying his research from there. I was enjoying the moments to my fullest after watching the love and respect of the people for a researcher; such was the impact of Kalam being a scientist and becoming a president, ruling the hearts and minds of masses. People had got this realization that it is the researchers, scientists, the technocrats who are of paramount importance over all other professionals. I was very happy thinking that our social fabric is changing and moving towards the right direction. Woefully my fantasy didn’t last for long. In the year 2010, a professional doctor from my home place topped the Indian civil service examination. Suddenly, and swiftly things turned upside down. His success shifted the focus of youth towards bureaucracy. Our talent, our good students started opting for a career in bureaucracy instead of pursuing their career in academics.
The change had a very adverse effect on the mind and affected our higher education and research. As per my own observations good students have not been taking up conventional subjects as their career option. They are either opting for a professional course just after passing 12th, or they opt for those subjects that are comparatively easier. In the sense that it requires less work and are scoring subjects for clearing civil services at state or central level. These repercussions on our academics is a result of the over-romanticization of the power and perks someone gets just after putting up a little effort which is not the case while serving as an academic. Now looking at the prevailing situation of our place, here I will discuss the subject of my interest viz Mathematics.
Recently mathematics was dropped as a major subject in a good number of higher educational institutions after seeing the response of the students towards the subject. This indeed is a depressing situation that a subject known as ‘queen of all sciences’ is becoming kind of an endangered species in the institutions of higher learning. The essence of mathematics is not something to be discussed here but I would like to quote here an expample of a mathematician Professor N. Wildberger, were he plots the graph of the development of countries/races over the period of nearly three thousand years and another graph showing the strength in mathematics of the countries/races over the same period. The fascinating fact comes out that the two graphs coincide,meaning that the development of a country is directly proportional to its progress in the field of mathematics. Now taking the discussion further I find it inevitable to talk here about the institution where I am rendering my services as a teacher of mathematics, the JK Institute of Mathematical Sciences (JKIMS). The philosophy and the driving force behind its inception were to have a research institute at par with Chennai Mathematical Institute (CMI). The aims and objectives of the institute were to imbibe and foster a culture of Mathematics in the valley and also to popularize the mathematics education amongst the young minds. Now after ten years after its inception it looks that the institution has not taken a stride in this direction yet, as progress of the institution has not been so tangible to be felt. To attain the aims and objectives set for at the time of its establishment I think the institution is yet to be taken seriously from different quarters.
Now I hope that the success of the mission chandriyaan will have positive influences on our social fabric. I believe the social structure and the ethos of our place largely depends upon the things we (over) glorify, and give importance to. If today India is being proud, it is because of the blood and sweat put in by Professor Somnath and the company, in making the project a pride for whole of the country. Today every Indian is proudly saying that we have great scientists/technocrats not saying that we have great bureaucrats. To conclude I want to underline the fact that our pride certainly lies in great scientist, mathematicians, philosophers, economists, environmentalist, great teachers but not the ones whom we over-glorify; unnecessarily.
The author is working at JK Institute of Mathematical Sciences; Srinagar and the views are his own.