**Chennai:**Declaring 2012 as the ‘National Mathematical year’ as

a tribute to maths wizard Srinivasa Ramanujan, Prime Minister Manmohan

Singh on Monday voiced concern over the “badly inadequate” number of

competent mathematicians in the country.

number of competent mathematicians that we have is badly inadequate”, he

said at a function to here mark the 125th birth anniversary of

Ramanujan.

Singh also declared December 22, the birthday of Ramanujan, as ‘National Mathematics Day.’

Students have not pursued mathematics at advanced levels over

more than three decades, which has resulted in a decline in quality of

mathematics teachers at schools and colleges, Singh who is on a two-day

visit to the state, told a galaxy of academics at Madras University.

“There is a general perception in our society that the pursuit of

mathematics does not lead to attractive career possibilities. This

perception must change. This perception may have been valid some years

ago, but today there are many new career opportunities available to

mathematics and the teaching perception itself has become much more

attractive in recent years”, Singh said.

The Prime Minister said the mathematical community has a duty to

find out “ways and means” to address the shortage of top quality

mathematicians and reach out to the public, especially in the modern

context, where mathematics has tremendous influence on every kind of

human endeavour.

Noting that the Central government has pursued a policy of

encouraging scientific activities of diverse kinds, the Prime Minister

said, “Given our traditions, we naturally attach special importance to

mathematics…in many ways, mathematics can be regarded as the mother

science”.

He said Ramanujan overcame formidable difficulties to reach the

pinnacle of greatness, illustrating the inadequacy of University

evaluation system in the early decades of the last century, while at the

same time showing the system displayed enough flexibility to take care

of mavericks like him.

“There have been many reforms since those days but there would

still be talent which would elude proper evaluation. Our institutions of

higher learning must be sensitive to this problem.”

“A genius like Ramanujan would shine bright even in the most

adverse of circumstances, but we should be geared to encourage and

nurture good talent which may not be of the same calibre as that of

Ramanujan”, Singh said.

Honouring Professor Robert Kanigel, who has written a biography

of Ramanujan, Singh said this book has made Ramanujan well known to the

public at large all over the world.

He said the country was proud of Ramanujan and Tamil Nadu has a special claim on him for he was a Tamilian.

“Along with CV Raman and Subramanyam Chandrashekhar (both Nobel

laureates), he is among the three great men of science and mathematics

that Tamil Nadu and India have given to the world of modern times”, he

said.