Intro: Have you ever felt that calculators, mobiles and computers have reduced our capability to do mental math? At times we feel lost without these gadgets even for simple calculations. It’s a proven fact that Mathematics helps keep the mind sharp, quick and focused. Wouldn’t it be great if we can learn quick and easy ways to do mental math!
All those who are ceaselessly awed by everything Western – here is a reality check. In 2012, a study revealed that almost half of British adults have math skills of an 11-year-old or worse, leaving them struggling to manage family finances or even calculate change! America’s newspapers have reported how teens from Asian nations dominated a global exam given to 15-year-olds, while US students showed little improvement and failed to reach the top 20 in math, science or reading!
It’s time some among our ‘esteemed intelligentsia’ stopped believing that God created purely super humans in the West, and populated India with lesser beings whose salvation lies only in following them – hands folded and eyes closed. In fact, it’s high time they let go of their deep-rooted mind blocks regarding everything ‘Indian’ and be willing to at least consider a open-minded research into our historical knowledge base.
Since ancient times, India has awed the world with its knowledge, culture and achievements. The advent of ruthless foreigners and centuries of subjugation has managed to destroy not just our records but even our basic self-esteem. It’s time to reconstruct our national pride and explore the historical positives we have lost over time.
The latest discourse on Vedic Math is again being drawn into this quagmire of controversies by those who have never bothered to actually understand what it is all about.
What is Vedic Math? While kids normally love to hate math, Vedic math techniques help calculations become quick and fun. By using the 'sutras' of calculations, a whole range of mathematical problems can be solved orally. Even a child can solve multiple-digit additions, subtractions, multiplications and divisions without pen and paper! An average student can calculate 10 times faster using Vedic Mathematics.
Vedic math simply helps develop mental capability and speed. Already scores of institutes are offering online as well as offline courses in Vedic math and many ambitious parents who are not content with regular school training are enrolling their children for supplementary training in mental math to improve their academic performance and beyond. The principles of Vedic Math are based on what happens in the mind as one calculates numbers. It uses short and efficient aphorisms to express principles and rules of working; produces and encourages easy routes for problem-solving and develops strategic thinking.
No one is replacing standard school curriculum of Mathematics with Vedic Math. But what is the harm in teaching additional techniques to help students stay quick on their mental feet?
Even the UK Government recently announced that calculators will be banned in math tests for 11-year-olds from 2014. This came after the realisation that over 17 million adults have maths capabilities of an 11 year old. This stresses the importance of mental math skills for students.
In an interesting incident recently, former US President Bill Clinton and his team of delegates had first-hand experience of what Vedic Math can achieve when they interacted with students of the Government Praveshika Sanskrit Vidhyalaya at Sanganer, Rajasthan. They were amazed to see two Class X students solving a mathematical calculation using the Nikhilam method of Vedic Math even before many delegates could do it on a calculator. Impressed with their fast calculations, Clinton asked the students to get in touch with his foundation for any assistance required for their education in future. The CAT result, declared in December 2014, was topped by Neha Manglik, a BITS Pilani final year student who scored 100 Percentile. In an interview with a news magazine she revealed that when she realised she needed to improve her speed in calculations, she turned to Vedic Mathematics.
It’s time to get rid of stereotyped categorisations. Instead of rubbishing our ancient knowledge, let us encourage more scientific research in it so that we can prove its worth to the world. And if there is an anomaly, let us correct it through research-based analysis. Simply raising a cacophony for the sake of it will get us nowhere.
Abha Khanna Gupta (The writer is a senior journalist and