Thursday, June 11, 2009

State of mathematics in India: an assessment

M.S. Raghunathan's assessment in The Hindu is fairly positive. Here are the concluding paragraphs:

In sum, it is fair to say India has indeed become a player of reasonable standing in the international mathematical arena — not quite a big power yet but with reasonable prospects of attaining that status. An indication is that India has won the bid to hold the International Congress of Mathematicians in August 2010. The event, by far the most important international mathematical meeting, takes place once in four years. This is the first time in over a hundred years (the first congress was held in 1897 in Zurich) that India will be hosting one. The venue for the 8-day congress is Hyderabad. The other Asian countries that have hosted an ICM are Japan (1990) and China (2002). An invitation to give a talk at the congress is considered highly prestigious. It is again a measure of our standing that since 1970, there has been at least one invited talk by an Indian working in India, a record not matched even by some West European countries or China.

The attendance in recent congresses has been around 3,500 and that is the kind of number expected at Hyderabad too. Some 700-800 Indian mathematicians are expected to participate. There will be plenty of possibilities for (postgraduate) students to participate, giving them an opportunity to interact with the finest mathematical minds and enlarge their horizon. There will also be programmes in the run-up to and during the congress reaching out to the general public, attempting to give them an idea of what mathematics is all about.