President's Speech at the Inauguration of the RMS Office
(The National College, Trichy, Jan 19, 2015)
Today our dreams of the past 30 years have become a reality. The Ramanujan Mathematical Society (RMS), after 30 years, has found a home, a place, it can call as its own. RMS was founded in this city 30 years ago. Now it has found its home also in the same city. Almost like a young man, who wanders for 30 years, and comes back to his home town, to establish his home.
There was some discussion of developing the RMS office, at a metropolitan place. But there was an equally compelling argument that it should develop at a smaller, peaceful place, where people could come for a visit for an extended period. The financial considerations were also important. Anyway, the latter argument has won, in a very beautiful way!
This development has come about mainly because of two reasons. First, Prof. Balakrishnan, a veteran of RMS, had served as the Head of Department of Mathematics at the National College, and left good vibrations about mathematics and about himself at this place. Secondly, Hon. Padma Vibhusan Dr. V. Krishnamurthy, Mr. Raghunathan, the Secretary, and Dr. Anbarasu, the Principal of the National College, responded generously. Indeed their offer is whole-hearted and very generous.
I am reminded of the benevolent King Raghu, the Founder of the Lineage in which Lord Rama was born, as depicted by the great poet Kalidas. Raghu was not only wholeheartedly generous, but would willingly give to the right person more than his or her desire.
Janasya Saaketa-Nivaasinastou, Dwaawapybhootaam Abhinandya-sattwou |
Guru-pradeyaa-adhik-nispruhorthi, nruporthikaamaad-adhika-pradashcha ||
We not only got the building, but the National College also renovated it, re-painted it, and is putting appropriate furniture, and computers.
I assure Hon V. Krishnamurthy, Secretary Raghunathan, and Dr. Anbarasu that RMS will work hard to be worthy of this generosity of yours, and will give you back more than what you may be thinking.
Hon V. Krishnamurthy, Dr. Anbarasu, and Secretary Raghunathan, have not taken Mathematics as a profession. But they are social leaders, with savvy about social organisations like RMS, and what RMS can possibly deliver. They know how to motivate us and use our knowledge and expertise for the good of the society. They have asked us to develop an integrated master's level programme in Mathematics. We certainly have this expertise, and we would like to deliver on this point. Give us about one year.
The National College also wants us to organise regional programmes for undergraduate teachers' training, and for master's level research scholars, and post-docs. RMS, in collaboration with the Academy of Discrete Mathematics and its Applications, has already started such programmes, all over India. In the last two years, we conducted 20 such programmes all over India. It will be our pleasure to organise such programmes at the National College in a regular manner. Let me add, we have already started such programmes vigorously in a sustained manner, in Pune, Maharashtra, where I come from. Such sustained programmes seem to be developing in Bangalore. We plan to make the National College as its prime centre for conducting such programmes in Tamilnadu.
Let me also tell Dr. V.Krihsnamurthy and his colleagues that RMS has planned to shift its Library from Bhaskaracharya Pratishthan in Pune, which is, in fact, my place of work. Since the RMS Office will be here, we would like to shift the library here. The Library gets some international journals of Mathematics in exchange. It will be inspirational to have such library for the students of the National College, and Mathematics researchers in and around the city.
RMS publishes India's major journal of Mathematics, namely JRMS, which has international stature. JRMS publishes long papers, which is useful for the high-end research community. RMS wishes to start a journal which will publish shorter papers. It will be useful for the University and College faculties.
This brings me to a topic which we experience all the time, but we seldom express it.
There is not so invisible fault-line between researchers and teachers in the mathematical community all over the world. In India, these fault-lines are more visible for historical reasons.
In the British Raj, there was hardly any research coming out of India in Mathematics.
Individual extreme exceptions such as Ramanujan, Pillai, Minakshisundram, Hans Raj Gupta, notwithstanding. This was changed in 1950s-1970s when India developed major research institutes.
It rapidly changed the picture. It was easy to develop Mathematics, as our requirements are few. Some spectacular research in Mathematics came from these research institutes. But this development took place outside the traditional universities and colleges. The University and College faculty carried heavy teaching loads as before. There was no overall research-supporting atmosphere, conducive to creative work at the Universities and colleges. Until late 70s, very few university/college faculty, were engaged in active research. This situation is changing, but we consciously need to accelerate it.
Our recogniation-awards criteria in the mathematical community are based mainly on research only. There is no level-playing field between the faculties at the research institutes, and the rest of the mathematical community.
The situation is rapidly changing, and the difference between researchers and teachers is narrowing down. Good research needs good teaching, and is based on the knowledge of the fundamentals of the subject. Likewise, good, inspired, teaching
can come only by active involvement in research.
Also both need good administrative set up. Administration, teaching, and research should effectively complement each other, if we wish to raise the level of mathematical culture of the whole society.
Keeping this in mind, RMS is thinking of adding its bit to the recognition and awards system in the mathematical community. We wish to start recognising the Fellows of RMS (FRMS), whose criteria are based on
i) Significant Contributions to RMS, and its activities,
ii) Significant Contributions to the mathematical community in India,
for example, excellent teaching, guiding undergraduate -masters-M. Phil-doctoral research, organisational work, etc,
iii) Significant Contributions to mathematical research.
I express my sincere desire that, as RMS acquires it own home, it will also cater more and more to all segments of the mathematical community. We seek co-operation, guidance, and blessings of people like Hon Dr. V. Krishnamurthy, Anbarasu, and Raghunathan.