Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A confluence of ideas

A confluence of ideas

The 9th D D Kosambi Festival of Ideas will be held from February 1 to February 5 at Kala Academy, Campal, Panaji. This year, Sudha Murthy (author), Arvind Kumar Gupta (toy maker), George Papandreou (former prime minister of Greece), Poonam Khetrapal Singh (regional director of WHO South-East Asia Region), Richard Schechner (theatre director, author), will share their thoughts and Ideas with the people of Goa

The 9th D D Kosambi Festival of Ideas will be held from February 1 to February 5 at Kala Academy, Campal, Panaji. It is truly a platform of sharing thoughts and mutual interaction. Young students, along with people from various social strata participate in this festival.
This year, Sudha Murthy(chairperson of the Infosys Foundation in India and trusty of the Infosys Foundation USA, a prolific writer in Kannada and English), Arvind Kumar Gupta (toy maker), George Papandreou (former prime minister of Greece), Poonam Khetrapal Singh (regional director of WHO South-East Asia Region), Richard Schechner (theater director, author, editor of TDR, and University Professor at the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University), will share their thoughts and Ideas with the people of Goa.
The inaugural address is by Sudha Murty who will speak on ‘The Circle of Life’; on February 2 Arvind Kumar Gupta will speak on ‘Nurturing Scientific Spirit in Children’, on February 3 George Papandreou will speak on ‘Intercultural Dialogue for Humanising Globalisation’, on February 4 Poonam Khetrapal Singh will speak on ‘Sustainable Development Goals, the Challenges and Opportunities for Health’. The concluding lecture will be held on February 5 where Richard Schechner will speak on the topic- How to perform the 21st century.
All these lectures will be held at 5 p.m. at Dinanath Mangueshkar Kala Mandir, Kala Academy, Panaji
The Directorate of Art and Culture had initiated the D D Kosambi Festival of Ideas to commemorate the birth Centenary of the legendary Damodar Dharmanand Kosambi the Indian mathematician, statistician, historian, and polymath who contributed to genetics by introducing Kosambi’s map function. He is well-known for his work in numismatics and for compiling critical editions of ancient Sanskrit texts. D D Kosambi was also a Marxist historian specialising in ancient India who employed the historical materialist approach in his work. He is described as the patriarch of the Marxist school of Indian historiography. He was an enthusiast of the Chinese revolution and its ideals, and, in addition, a leading activist in the World Peace Movement.
About the speakers
Sudha Murthy: Sudha Murthy was born in 1950 in North Karnataka. She started her career as an engineer with TELCO (now Tata Motors) and is now the chairperson of Infosys Foundation. A prolific writer in English and Kannada, her books have been translated into all major Indian languages and have sold over four lakh copies around the country. She is a columnist for English and Kannada dailies with 25 books and 156 titles to her credit – including novels, non-fiction, travelogues, technical books, and memoirs.
Arvind Kumar Gupta: Arvind Gupta graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur (1975) with a degree in Electrical Engineering. He has written 24 books on science activities, translated 175 books into Hindi and presented 125 films on science activities on Doordarshan. His first book ‘Matchstick Models & Other Science Experiments’ was translated into 12 Indian languages and sold over half a million copies. He has received several honors, including the inaugural National Award for Science Popularization among Children (1988). For 11-years he worked in a Children’s Science Center located at the Inter-University Center for Astronomy & Astrophysics, Pune. He shares his passion for books and toys through his popular website

Saturday, January 9, 2016

A Scholar in his time: The contemporary views of Kosambi the mathematician

Thanks to Arvind Gupta for sending this paper.
University of Hyderabad, Hyderabad, TS 500 034

Kosambi introduced a new method into historical scholarship, essentially by application of modern mathematics.” J. D. Bernal [1], who shared some of his interests and much of his politics, summarized the unique talents of DDK [2] in an obituary that appeared in the journal Nature, adding, “Indians were not themselves historians: they left few documents and never gave dates. One thing the Indians of all periods did leave behind, however, were hoards of coins. [...] By statistical study of the weights of the coins, Kosambi was able to establish the amount of time that had elapsed while they were in circulation . . .
The facts of DDK’s academic life, in brief are as follows. He attended high–school in the US, in Cambridge, MA, and undergraduate college at Harvard, graduating in 1929. Returning to India, he then worked as a mathematician at Banaras Hindu University (1930-31), Aligarh Muslim University (1931-33), Fergusson College, Pune (1933-45), and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (1945-62), after which he held an emeritus fellowship of the CSIR until his death at the age of 59, in 1966.
Today the significance of D. D. Kosambi’s mathematical contributions [3–71] tends to be underplayed, given the impact of his scholarship as historian, and Indologist. His work in the latter areas has been collected in several volumes [72] and critical commentaries have appeared over the years [73, 74], but his work in mathematics has not been compiled and reviewed to the same extent [75, 76, 77, 78]. Indeed, a complete bibliography is not available in the public domain so far [79]. This asymmetry is unfortunate since, as commented elsewhere [75], an understanding of Kosambi the historian can only be enhanced by an appreciation of Kosambi the mathematician [80].
DDK is known for several contributions, some of which like the Kosambi-Cartan-Chern (KCC) theory [81], carry his name, and some like the Karhunen–Lo√®ve expansion [37, 39, 82], that do not. The Kosambi mapping function in genetics [40] continues to be used to this day [83], but the path geometry that he studied for much of his life [84] has not found further application. DDK’s final years were mired in controversies, both personal and professional. His papers on the Riemann hypothesis (RH) [65, 66] brought him a great deal of criticism and not a little ridicule, while his personal politics put him in direct conflict with Homi Bhabha and the Department of Atomic Energy. This contributed to his eventual and somewhat ignominious ouster from employment at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. His early and passionate advocacy of solar energy was practical and based on sound scientific common sense. In some of his arguments, he seems even somewhat Gandhian, and although this was a contrary position to hold in the TIFR at that time, the essential validity of his argument remains to this day [85].