Tag Archives: colonial knowledge

Frontline’s Calculus of Caste: C. K. Raju

Guest post by C. K. RAJU

[Frontline carried a historically ill-informed article on Indian calculus which also had mathematical and casteist errors. When the errors were pointed out, the magazine ignored it, contrary to journalistic ethics. Here is Prof Raju’s response to that article.]

Frontline (23 Jan 2015) published an excessively ill-informed article by Biman Nath on “Calculus & India”. The article suppressed the existence of my 500 page tome on Cultural Foundations of Mathematics: the Nature of Mathematical Proof and the Transmission of Calculus from India to Europe in the 16th c. (Pearson Longman, 2007). This suppression was deliberate, for Nath and Frontline ignored it even after it was pointed out to them. They also refused to correct serious mathematical and casteist errors in the article. That is contrary to journalistic ethics. To understand my response, some background is needed.

According to my above book and various related articles, the calculus developed in India and was transmitted to Europe. The second part of the story is lesser known. As often happens with imported knowledge, calculus was misunderstood in Europe. Later that inferior misunderstanding was given back to India through colonial education, and continues to be taught to this day just by declaring it as “superior”. That claim of superiority was never cross-checked to see if it is any different from the other flimsy claims of superiority earlier made by the West, for centuries, for example the racist claim that white-skinned people are “superior”. Continue reading Frontline’s Calculus of Caste: C. K. Raju