Pythagoras’s theorem actually an Indian discovery: Harsh Vardhan
Potrait of Pythagoras of Samos (circa 570 to 495 BC), Ionian Greek philosopher, mathematician, and founder of the religious movement called Pythagoreanism. (Via Getty Images)
MUMBAI: The inauguration of the 102nd edition of the Indian Science Congress wasn’t without reference to ancient science. Union minister of science and technology, Dr Harsh Vardhan, said Indians had selflessly shared their knowledge of science with the world.

Drawing attention to ancient Indian sciences, he said, “Our scientists discovered the Pythagoras theorem but we very sophisticatedly gave its credit to the Greeks. We all know we knew ‘beej ganit’ much before the Arabs, but very selflessly allowed it to be called algebra.”

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Congress, hosted by Mumbai University at its Kalina Campus, on Saturday. Themed ‘Science and Technology for Human Development,’ the Congress will host sessions by Nobel laureates, eminent scientists and academicians.

Mathematics experts said they were not very convinced by Vardhan’s view. “We know Indians have contributed to mathematics to a great extent. However, I was surprised to hear what he said. Maybe the way he thinks about mathematics is different than what we academicians do,” said a mathematics professor from Mumbai University, who was present at the inaugural function.

But Vardhan’s contention also had its backers; with many saying India’s contribution cannot be ignored. “We gave the world zero. For everything in mathematics, be it algebra or anything else, we have to start with zero. So we cannot ignore what we have contributed to mathematics,” said another professor. Vardhan also inaugurated the Pride of India expo, a science and technology exhibition showcasing technologies, products, R&D initiatives and researches.

Harsh Vardhan said our scientists discovered the Pythagoras theorem, but we very sophisticatedly gave its credit to the Greeks.

A symposium titled ‘Ancient Indian sciences through Sanskrit’ is already under the scanner for a paper presentation on “Ancient Indian Aviation Technology”.

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Modi spoke of the need to rekindle love for science and technology and relax excessive regulations and cumbersome procedures for our universities to give a boost to research.

“Our scientists should be able to explore the mysteries of science and not get stuck in government procedures,” said Modi. He added that our research is restricted to central agencies, but it must be made broad-based. “We have to place the university system at the cutting edge of the research and development activities in the country,” he added.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (left) with Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis during the 102nd Indian Science Congress 2015 at University of Mumbai, on January 3, 2014.

Speaking about the great work of Indian scientists, Modi said, “Just as children see sportsmen as role models, scientists should also be the same. Parents should feel pride in their children becoming scientists.” He lauded Isro for putting Mangalayan in the Mars orbit on the first attempt.

He linked a nation’s progress and development to science and called for efforts to make sure science and technology reached the poorest, remotest and most vulnerable person. The PM felicitated Nobel laureates and Indian scientists.

Read this story in Hindi — पाइथागोरस प्रमेय भारत ने खोजा थाः हर्ष वर्धन