Celebrating India’s contribution to the world of knowledge 

Context: Recently there have been debates and discussion over India’s contribution and achievements in various domains of knowledge.

The debates arose because despite immense contributions, India’s achievements remain unattributed and uncelebrated despite 5,000 years old civilization. The topic became more important as India is going to celebrate its 75 years of Independence.  

What have been the Indian contributions to world knowledge? 

India has contributed a lot since ancient times, which has been crucial in the development of modern concepts. 

Albert Einstein once said, “We owe a lot to the Indians. They gave zero, and taught how to count”.

The scientific discovery could not have been possible without such contribution in the field of knowledge. 

The modern mathematical concepts were born in India several centuries ago – (1) In the 7th century CE, Brahmagupta proved that the product of a negative and a positive number is a negative number. (2) The Virahanka work is similar to the Fibonacci Series, (3) Pingala’s Meru Prastara can be related to Pascal’s Triangle, and  (4) Madhava (c 1,400 CE) found the approximate value of pi (p), and (5) In fact, the Indian numeral system (e.g., Bakhshali Manuscript) is the source of the Arabic numeral system. Later, it was transmitted to Europe.  

In the field of space sciences, Hinduism related ancient cosmological ideas that were central to Hinduism form the basis of modern cosmology. The Hindu religion faith related to an infinite number of deaths and rebirths has some similarities with the theory of the multiverse. 

India was a centre of manufacturing and trade. The Damascus swords were made from Wootz steel in India. Till the 19th century, Lahore, Amritsar, Agra, Jaipur, Gwalior, Tanjore, Mysore and Golconda were some of the few manufacturing centres for the Wootz steel. The art was lost after the advent of the British 

In fact, Kautilya advocated interest rates that varied with risk (His treatise known as Sukraniti). This concept is related to constant optimisation of risk and return. These thoughts are the basis of theory of differential interest rate which is one of the founding pillars of modern economics. 

India’s rich heritage comprises both tangibles like architecture and intangibles like the wealth of knowledge.  

Way Forward 

Dhara: An Ode to Indian Knowledge Systems” has been launched by the Ministry of Culture in this direction. It will enable academic scholars to add rigorous reasoning and scientific credibility to India’s contribution and achievements across domains.  

Further, Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav commemorating the 75th year of Indian Independence provides an occasion for doing something in this regard.

Source: The post is based on an article “Celebrating India’s contribution to the world of knowledge” published in The Indian Express on 09th April 2022.  

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