The announcement of the Nobel Prizes annually is highly awaited. But one subject that does not have a Nobel Prize is Mathematics. Did Alfred Nobel dislike the subject much like many other young students? While the reasons are unclear (and, no, he did not dislike Mathematics though there is an apocryphal story in this regard), mathematicians are honoured instead by two major awards  the Fields Medal and the Abel Prize. The Fields Medal is awarded once in 4 years and honours the brightest minds in the field under 40 years; and, the Abel Prize, instituted only as recent as 2001, goes to outstanding contribution in the field of Mathematics.
For a subject that is the underlying element in all subjects (remember even musical notes have a mathematical underlay), it is surprising that the subject creates phobia in youngsters. Compare this with the comment of Maryam Mirzakhani, the only female mathematician to have won the Fields Medal, that "...the most rewarding part (of doing Mathematics) is the "Aha" moment, the excitement of discovery and enjoyment of understanding something new  the feeling of being on top of a hill and having a clear view.' Not a view that most people would agree with, I think.
Yet, Indians and Mathematics have an old association. The concepts developed by Aryabhatta (whose work on the place value system indicated an implicit understanding and use of the concept of zero, it is argued) and Brahmagupta are acknowledged as seminal works from the fifth century. And, there are more such masters of yore. And, the contribution in the modern era has come from many other geniuses, most wellknown of which is the enigmatic Srinivasa Ramanujam. The tradition has continued and the Fields Medal in 2014 to Manjul Bhargava (based in Princeton University) was welcomed widely in India as he spoke eloquently of his childhood influences of Sanskirt, Mathematics and Indian classical music.
Pure Mathematics, however, is not a glamourous arena. Instead, those accolades go to the inventors of technological products. In this context, it would be interesting to recall a comment from Bhargava who said that 'Mathematics and Science in India, at least in recent times, are being viewed as "tools for Engineering or Medicine" and "not viewed as subjects and careers" in themselves.'
Can this be changed? The Indian Mathematical Society is over 100 years old, having been established in 1907, and believes that more homegrown mathematicians can be produced, given societal encouragement and recognition, coupled with better teaching at school level where curious and questioning minds ought to be stimulated. Perhaps, using the techniques of Vedic Mathematics could be an answer. After all, the rise of Kumon and UCMAS classes are ample proof that Indian parents need no convincing on the utility of Mathematics in grooming youngsters.
Truly what we need to have is less mystery on the subject and more popularity created by generating enthusiasm for the magic of numbers!
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