Friday, May 05, 2017

M.S. Narasimhan discusses modern mathematics in India.
K.Chandrasekharan who figures prominently in the interview left TIFR in 1965 for ETH, Zurich.

P.S. A personal reminiscence: Alphansos for KC. It was sometime in the seventies. One Puthran, registrar of TIFR wanted me take some Alphonso mangoes to Komaravolu Chandrasekharan (KC). KC who left TIFR in 1965 still had loyal following. Puthran got a nice box made in the workshop so that the mangos would not be spoiled. I too them to ETH, Zurich and asked for an appointment with KC. His secretary said that he was busy and no appointments were possible for the next few days. I was duly upset and left the mangos in his office telling her that it was a present from somebody in India. By the time KC got to know about the present and gave me an appointment, the mangos rotted. I got along better with KC later on and took Avakai pickles for him which he gracefully accepted. I also sent him a few Telugu books like Kanyasulkam for which I got a note of thanks in his beautiful handwriting. And on later trips, he gave me a few books that he wrote or edited. Sometimes when I saw him I was reminded of the phrase 'The Lion in Winter'. The great man passed away last month at the age of 96.

P.S.2. By the time I joined in 1964, the atmosphere that Narasiman described was gone. Local professors were scrambling for students also trying to prevent competitors from outside entering. Slowly careerism took over. Other centres came up too, sometimes personal fiefdoms. These became mainly centres of neoliberal asking for more and more funds from the governments, comparing themselves with western professors and the benefits they were missing. It was good when it was going but I am not sure whether emphasis on higher education and research institutes at the expense of primary education was such a great thing. Moreover lot of the trained people 

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