It's not part of the school curriculum, but exam-oriented parents and students have no problem sending their children for coaching and tuitions. We're talking about Vedic maths, which boasts of teaching students the secret behind those off-putting numbers. A student of Vedic maths who has mastered the world of numbers will be able to calculate 998 x 997 in less than five seconds, and analyse the square root of 117 in a minute. And despairing parents are seeing this as an opportunity to give their children an edge in the classroom.
And it’s gaining popularity not only in the city, but also abroad. "The Internet is one of the reasons why it has become so mainstream," says Gaurav Tekriwal, president of The Vedic Maths Forum India. "Students from all over the country are using it to help them in entrance examinations like the CAT, GMAT, SAT."
To meet the growing demand, workshops, seminars and classes are being organised in schools, universities and clubs. "We see loads of books, DVDs, online classes, and even You Tube videos on this subject," says Gaurav.
Ten-year-old Riddhi Patiria has been taking Vedic maths classes over and above her regular school curriculum. Her mum, Sonal, admits that she has no idea about the 1-2-3 of Vedic maths, but wants her daughter to learn this skill of fast calculation. "The Vedic maths course is completely different from the IGGSC board that they Riddhi has in Utpal Sanghvi School," she says.
Students are the main beneficiaries of this method as they can directly apply the formulae in their examinations and school work, and the results, they say, are good. Mamta Kanakia conducts private classes at her house in Vile Parle. "Students are eager to learn Vedic maths today as it is a simple way to solve mathematical problems," she says.
It also helps tackle a natural apathy, sometimes even hatred, towards the subject. Students, who would simply go blank when faced with a Math problem are finding it easy to apply the rules of Vedic maths. And they like it, because it gives them "super-natural abilities".
But the problem, say proponents of the subject, is acceptance. Indians tend to dismiss their own culture, unless the West takes to it. A case in point is yoga. "We need more entrepreneurs to popularise Vedic maths," says Gaurav. "I am glad that people are slowly taking interest, because given the state of education reforms in our country, it would take at least 200 years before this system is implemented in the classroom. We are still teaching children ‘stuff' which was relevant to the Industrial Age, when people were needed to work in factories," he says.
Vedic maths has become part of the curriculum of many international schools and there is a growing demand for able teachers abroad. It's not just students who have taken up the subject. Gaurav conducts classes for adults and senior citizens in the US, who he says are interested in the subject because it helps increase their concentration and sharpens their mind.