Two IKS lectures at IIT Gandhinagar to throw light on ‘Pan-Indian Traditions of Science & Technology’ and ‘Development of the Indian Numerals’

Gandhinagar: The next set of lectures in the Indian Knowledge Systems (IKS) semester course at the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (IITGN) will provide the participants a peek into the rich traditions of Indian Science, Technology and Numerals.

Prof M D Srinivas, a theoretical physicist and a historian of science, will deliver a lecture on ‘Pan-Indian Traditions of Science and Technology’, on February 26, while Dr Kim Plofker, a faculty of Mathematics at the Union College in Schenectady, NY, USA, will deliver a lecture on ‘Development of the Indian Numerals (and how they became “Arabic”)’, on February 27. Both lectures will be held at IITGN campus, AB 1/102, from 3:30 to 5 pm. They are a part of the fourth edition of the IKS semester course being conducted at IITGN on the theme of ‘The Ancient Idea of India’.

Prof M D Srinivas taught at the Department of Theoretical Physics, University of Madras, during 1976-96. Since 1996, he has been working as a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies, Chennai, which is devoted to the study of Indian civilisational ideas and institutions in diverse fields of public activity. In particular, he has worked on various aspects of Indian tradition of mathematics and astronomy. During his lecture on February 26, Prof Srinivas will shed light on the pan-Indian nature of the sciences and knowledge systems and on the various mechanisms that strengthened the civilisational unity of India and its knowledge systems. This will be illustrated with a few examples drawn from the history of Indian tradition of linguistics, mathematics, astronomy and medicine.

In the second lecture on February 27, Dr Kim Plofker will explain how the Indian decimal place-value system with zero, the ancestor of the worldwide decimal system of today, emerged in the early Common Era and rapidly spread through South and Southeast Asia. Subsequently, it transmitted to the West as ‘Indian numbers’ with many diverse hypotheses about its origins. It will try to trace the evolution of such hypotheses to highlight how the field of history of science has developed and responded to increasing knowledge about the ancient world. Dr Kim Plofker’s research focuses on the history of mathematics and astronomy in India and its connections with science in the Islamic and early modern European world.

Students and individuals from Ahmedabad/Gandhinagar, who are interested in studying and understanding Indian knowledge systems, can join the course lectures for free by filling out an online registration form on the website: http://iks.iitgn.ac.in/.

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