After protests against suryana-maskar calling it anti-Islam, Hindu organisations have stirred up another controversy calling algebra incompatible with Hinduism and Indian secularism.
Vijay Apte, a member of Bharitiya Hindu Parishad (BHP) first raised the issue when he realized that his daughter was being taught algebra in a government run school in UP. Quoting US senator Lindsey Graham who said “Everything that starts with ‘Al’ in the Mideast is bad news”, he argued that it was time India acknowledged it’s own glorious mathematical past rather than teaching some foreign concept.
The RSS came in support of Vijay, arguing that Aryabhatta was the founder of the branch mathematics that is known as algebra and it should be renamed to bīja-gaṇita (as it is taught in RSS affiliated schools) to acknowledge his contributions.
They also threatened to sue the school for the introduction of religious connotations in school curriculum. RSS spokesperson was quoted saying, “Those who believe that bīja-gaṇita should be called algebra are free to leave India and go to Pakistan to study it.”
What started as a minor quibble snowballed into a controversy on twitter with two opposing camps fighting to get their hashtag on top. Several journalists and a few liberals commented on the issue. Many across the lines lambasted the organization for unnecessary politicization of the issue arguing that algebra was actually of Babylonian origins and this was just a stupid one-up controversy. A few decried the religious fundamentalism and polarization happening under the new government, blaming Modi for this mess.
“Cant they at least leave our children and their education alone?” tweeted a senior journalist before blocking anyone who replied to the tweet.
However a surprising number of people came in support of the move of banning algebra and replacing it with vedic mathematics in the curriculum. Haryana CM was quoted saying, “we’ll see what can be done withing the limits of constitution, if this is by popular demand”. The opposition meanwhile launched a scathing attack on the PM for polarizing the atmosphere as Bihar elections are approaching.
An RTI reply revealed that Vijay, who filed PIL against algebra in the court had failed his 10th due to algebra, he however commented that this had no bearing on his allegations of algebra not being secular in nature.