Astrophysics Education and Research in Kerala: Prospects and Problems
Kerala is a small state in South West India. The capital city of Kerala is Trivandrum. Kerala had trade relations with Europe and middle-cast even prior to the time of Christ. It is famous for spices. Assyrians, Babylonians,
Romans, Arabs and the Chinese traded with Kerala in spices, pepper, ivory, timber, teak, rosewood in old ports like Muziris (near Mahodayapuram in Central Kerala where an astronomical observatory existed during the 9th
century). Marco Polo noted the existence of Jewish communities in North Kerala (Malabar) in 821 A.D. Vasco da Gama landed in Kerala in 1498. In the Old Testament there is a reference to a port near Trivandrum. Kerala
was under European occupation from 1500 A.D. to 1947 A.D. It is a land of scientific importance due to its closeness to geomagnetic equator, rich biodiversity and beach sands with minerals. Social development factors of
Kerala like literacy, life expectancy, women education etc. are better than India and comparable with that of industrialized nations. In this paper we will present some salient features of the astronomy education/ research in India in general and in the State of Kerala in particular.
We will discuss here some relevant topics such as astronomical tradition in India, contribution of medieval Kerala astromers to astronomy and mathematics, progress of science education in India since independence, problems and prospects of astronomy (science) education in India and Kerala. We also make some suggestions for improving science education in India.