Sunday, September 19, 2010


The other day I was reading 'INSTRUCTIONS TO AUTHORS' in an Indian science journal and it says "all the photographs should be numbered using Arabic numerals. I was surprised and disappointed that our people are not aware that the nine digits were invented in India not in the Middle East. It is true that the travelers from Arab to India had taken the knowledge of numerals with them and spread it in the West. If the Western world had not got the knowledge from India through the travelers, they would still be writing in Roman numerals that would have made the advent of science and technology rather impossible.
In this age of Patents and 'Intellectual Property Rights', we must at least acknowledge and appreciate the wisdom of ancient Indians that they had invented not only Zero but also the nine numerals. We can read the book 'Wonder that was India' by A. L. Basham where more details are available. I would not blame Westerners for their ignorance because they had got the knowledge from the Arabs and thought the numbers to be Arabic. However, our Indian scientists should know better. To be extra courteous we may call them Indo-Arabic numerals.

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